I had the pleasure of attending this years BelTech conference hosted in the amazingly designed Titanic building. The conferences was based on a few topics including smart cities, startups and practitioners. I focused on the smart cities and practitioners.
The opening keynote was presented by Kate Atkinson the co founder of Datasnap.io a company focused on the development of products that provide data and insight into customer engament. Using proximity tracking technology DataSnap tracks the movement of patrons at venues and provides data to the customer. Kate talked about the challenges of working with customers and trying to improve the data they require. One of the big requests from customers was to have live maps of the location to watch live data of patrons and how the move around a venue. This can be hard to provide when no real detailed floor maps are available. The solution for this was to map the proximity sensors to rooms or areas. Instead of tracking the location of a patron track their movement between sensors. The result gives data on how many patrons move from A to B then to C and how many move from A to C without stopping at B. This allows the customer to workout why patrons are skipping B and find ways to change this.
The smart cities session was run with a number of mayors from across the UK, US and europe. The discussion started off talking about the state of smart cities currently, the different cities that were brought into question were; Skien (Norway), Lowell (Massachusetts), South Dublin (Ireland) and Donegal (Ireland). The main theme from each mayor was the focus on bringing companies together to provide a better smart city. However this does come with some challenges, the mayor of Donegal talked about issues with the structure of the local government and how parts had been broken up and segregated from other resources such as online payment and the management of customer interactions. This does however provide a gap that can be filled with smart technologies. The mayor of South Dublin made points about how people expect more from the city with the higher taxes being introduced, this is to help provide more services such as free wifi. Whereas the mayor of Lowell focused on how the city was already smart and push more resources into the existing schemes and even starting more projects. These schemes are the usual that people think of when you hear smart city, funding startups and university based incubator programs. A change from the free wifi, online services and tech startups the mayor of Skien focused on how the growth of the smart city can actually benefit the citizens health and lifestyle. One issue facing all cities is the increased life expectancy which in turn puts more pressure on the heath care system. Skien is focused on building smart homes and integrating smart systems into people’s lives to help protect and improve their way of life.
My take away from the talk, smart cities are becoming a big part of the political thought process and are not a thing of the future, some locations are better suited than others. This can be driven on the geographical location such as remote area’s (always hard to provide high speed broadband etc). Some other reasons could be linked to the technical competence of the local government as some of the mayors were not the most conversed in modern tech and this was clear at point of the talk.
You can read more on the talks below:
The Internet of Things