1 December, 2015

Smart City Expo in Review.

Our team members Jens Mueller, Yannick Bollhorst, and Alex Nyahoe had a great time recently, when they joined the Cisco exhibitor booth at the 3rd Annual Smart City Expo World Congress to present IoT enabled Next Generation City Infrastructure Management. As usual, they returned full of excitement over all the new possibilities that are being explored through IoT Innovation. Here are the insights they shared with me about this event.

How do you believe your presentation, IoT Enabled Next Generation City Infrastructure Management, was received?  

The presentation was very well received.

Once people realized that they can literally start their digital transformation anywhere, be it building or infrastructure, the possibilities really resonated with them. During the presentation, we were able to show that even in cases where they don’t know where to begin with digital transformation, through relayr’s structured process we can help them identify the most beneficial solutions for their organizations and help them define a starting point and give them the tools to implement those solutions.

We discussed the importance and benefits of retrofitting existing buildings and infrastructure to enable the Smart City, and outlined the structured process for showing them how to do that. As people began to connect with the idea that, today, retrofitting really is the biggest digital transformation opportunity, you could see the interest and excitement grow.

We have previously discussed smart cities as far as sensors being retrofitted to benefit water and sewage systems, power, transportation, and of course building infrastructure management. What other systems are there that we encourage the smart cities to look at?

Elevators. We also see elevators as part of the smart city transportation concept. In many buildings of the world, an elevator will carry as many people as a subway train does in a day. Imagine the huge buildings in Dubai or in New York, for example. Some buildings have 10 or more concurrently running elevators, carrying thousands of people in the morning and those same thousands of people in the evening, in addition to the regular flow of traffic throughout the day.

Elevators are part of the connected transportation system. This is something that companies and cities are just starting to get their heads around.

What is a smart elevator? What does it do? How are we changing the way elevators deliver services to people? 

Let me give you the example I share most often. Consider a 75-story office building in New York, or any other city in the world, with 10 elevator systems running in parallel. Between 8:00 and 10:00 am, 7,500 people are arriving during that small window of time. The elevator today would not know if the standard office worker is going to floor 10 or floor 43 until the passenger is on the elevator and pushing a button. If there are 15 people on each trip, all going to different floors, then the wait times both for an available elevator and time spent on the elevator are extensive.

We can use IoT technology to optimize those traffic jams. Imagine a courtesy application on a smart phone or an ebeacon downloaded by a worker in this building. The application or ebeacon identifies that person’s proximity to the building and notifies the elevator that the worker is approaching and works on 43rd floor. The elevator can group this passenger with other approaching workers who are also arriving for the 43rd floor – or a cluster of floors like 41-45, and send a text alert to each of the people arriving to go to elevator 7, limiting the number of stops the elevator makes on that trip.

The traffic optimization that could be achieved, just through this functionality alone, could result in a daily:

  • reduction of the amount of time spent waiting for an elevator
  • reduction of the amount of time in in  elevators
  • increased energy efficiency for the entire elevator system

This is just one application area for digitally optimized elevators in an office building. The application areas for smart elevators are as extensive as the building types themselves.  Imagine the use cases for hospitals or shopping malls or residential high rises.

What were some of the new ideas we learned from the event?

The new message that we heard often was the growing interest in creating an individual digital footprint and connecting the dots between the home and the office. Allowing individuals to transport their ‘digital profile’ into the workplace, for example by personalizing workspace, to create a comfortable atmosphere and enhance productivity is an idea that is gaining traction in many areas. This trend is probably being encouraged by the new wave of companies like Google, who are offering much more relaxed and open office spaces to encourage creativity and improve work-life balance. We are already seeing projects like this taking off today and expect to see the trend continue to grow over the next few years.

What kind of feedback did we receive about our solutions at this event? Are we in line with what the market really needs right now?  

The feedback we got was a confirmation that relayr is definitely on the right track. The relayr Cloud, our Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), offering was met with significant interest and the people we spoke with really liked the idea of being able to implement a project size of their choosing and having the option to scale up their solution as they see the benefits grow and the increased efficiency of different areas of the business.


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