Category Archives: smart cities

Capgemini and Siemens team up to make buildings smarter

Iot isometric flowchart design bannerCapgemini and Siemens’ Building Technologies division have announced a new partnership to develop analytics-based services for the smart buildings space.

The new team will focus on developing the Siemens Navigator platform to produce an enhanced IoT management platform featuring asset management and analytics technology. The objective of the technology will be to increase energy efficiencies of the buildings, as well as the lifecycle potential of their customers’ real estate assets.

Siemens claims customers using their platform currently save 10.5 million tons of CO2 per year, though by incorporating Capgemini’s IoT, data analytics, and cloud capabilities, the ambition is to extend and drive this digital transformation project, in a phased approach.

The smart building industry has been gathering momentum in the last few months, though hasn’t been grabbing the same headlines as autonomous cars or the overarching smart cities projects. One estimate puts market value as high as $36 billion in 2020, highlighting that buildings can consume anywhere between 20-40% of the total energy intake of a country, creating a lucrative market for potential IoT vendors. While energy efficiency is one of the more obvious drivers for smart buildings initiatives, safety and security factors have also enhanced the growth of this market.

“The Internet of Things is a massive accelerator for digital transformation,” said Capgemini’s Olivier Sevillia. “Building a consistent strategy and providing an innovative platform for IoT services is an asset that companies can leverage for the benefit of their clients.

“This cloud based data driven services project will make the widespread benefits of connected buildings a reality for Siemens Building Technologies’ real estate customers, helping them to make more informed business decisions and realise operating efficiencies. Capgemini will support this roll-out from strategy development through to implementation and integration.”

Enabling smart cities with IoT

The Internet of Things will help make cities smarter

The Internet of Things will help make cities smarter

The population of London swells by an additional 10,000 a month, a tendency replicated in cities across the world. To an extent such growth reflects the planet’s burgeoning wider population, and there is even an interesting argument that cities are an efficient way of providing large numbers with their necessary resources. What we know as the ‘smart city’ may well prove to be the necessary means to manage this latest shift at scale.

Justin Anderson is sympathetic to this assessment. As the chairman of Flexeye, vice chair of techUK’s Internet of Things Council, and a leader of government-funded tech consortium Hypercat and London regeneration project Old Oak Common, he is uniquely positioned to comment on the technological development of our urban spaces.

“We are in an early stage of this next period of the evolution of the way that cities are designed and managed,” he says. “The funny thing about ‘smart’ of course, is that if you look back 5000 years, and someone suggested running water would be a good idea, that would be pretty smart at the time. ‘Smart’ is something that’s always just over the horizon, and we’re just going through another phase of what’s just over the horizon.”

There’s some irony in the fact that Anderson finds himself so profoundly involved in laying the foundations for smarter cities, since architects have been in his family for 400 years, and he intended to go in that direction himself before falling into the study of mathematics – which then led to a career in technology.

“There are lots of similarities between the two,” he says. “Stitching lots of complex things together and being able to visualise how the whole thing might be before it exists. And of course the smart city is a world comprised of both the physical and virtual aspects of infrastructure, both of which need to be tied together to be able to manage cities in a more efficient way.”

Like many of the great urban developments, the smart city is mostly going to be something invisible, something we quickly take for granted.

“We’re not necessarily all going to be directly feeling the might of processing power all around us. I think we’ll see a lot of investment on the industrial level coming into the city that’s going to be invisible to the citizen, but ultimately they will benefit because it’s a bit more friction taken out of their world. It’ll be a gradual evolution of things just working better – and that will have a knock on effect of not having to queue for so long, and life just being a little bit easier.”

There are, however, other ways connectivity could change urban life in the coming years: by reversing the process of urban alienation, and allowing online communities to come together and effect real world change.

“If you can engage citizens in part of that process as a way that they live, and make sure that they feel fully accountable for what the city might be, then there’s also a lot of additional satisfaction that could come from being a part of that city, rather than just a pawn in a larger environment where you really have no say and just have to do what you’ve got to do. Look at something like air quality – to be able to start to get that united force and be able to then put more pressure upon the city authorities to do something about it. Local planning policy is absolutely core in all of this.”

Anderson sees technology as an operative part of the trend towards devolution, with cities and their citizens gaining more and more control of their destiny. “If you build that sort of nuclear community around issues rather than just around streets or neighbourhoods, you get new levels of engagement.” For such changes to be effected, however, there is plenty that still needs doing on the technical level – a message Anderson will bringing to Internet of Things World Europe event in Berlin this October.

“I think the most important thing right now is that technology companies come together to agree on a common urban platform that is interoperable, allowing for different components to be used appropriately, and that we don’t find ourselves locked into large systems that mean cities can’t evolve in a flexible and fluid way in the future. We have to have that flexibility designed into this next stage of evolution that comes frMakom interoperability. My drive is to make sure everyone is a believer in interoperability.”

IBM to pour £2bn into Internet of Things business unit

IBM is putting billions of dollars into creating a standalone IoT division

IBM is putting billions of dollars into creating a standalone IoT division

IBM announced it plans to spend up to £2bn over the next four years to consolidate and revamp its Internet of Things technologies and services into a standalone business unit. The move seems aimed at broadening its appeal beyond proto-IoT segments it traditionally caters to.

Through its Smart Cities and Smarter Planet programmes the company has effectively been offering what many today refer to as Internet of Things technologies, but the renewed investment will see IBM mobilise and train a massive fleet of consultants (over 2,000) on its consolidated IoT services portfolio, and offer a cloud-based platform for companies to help them marry data real time IoT data streams with other data sets and services.

The company also plans to carve out a section in Bluemix, IBM’s platform-as-a-service, for specialist IoT services, and expand IoT-focused partnerships with a range of technology and service providers.

“Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president, IBM Analytics. “This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it’s a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters.  Over the next decade, integration of IoT in business operations and decision-making will transform business.”

The move is part of a broader reorganisation effort currently underway at IBM, which is seeing the company realign internally (and trim headcount) to more effectively support service and technology development around cloud, mobile, security, and data analytics. Its Internet of Things offerings are both increasingly drawing from those other segments, and broadening beyond traditional smart cities or intelligent manufacturing segments use cases – areas where IBM has traditionally played.

In February for example ARM and IBM jointly announced an Internet of Things starter kit to enable developers to rapidly prototype mbed-based IoT applications using Bluemix, which ships with a development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 processor. The companies are aiming the kit at startups, which hasn’t traditionally been IBM’s nor ARM’s target demographic.