The conference was opened by the Founder of DIGIT, Ray Bug, who announced that Scotland alone spends £9 billion on IT Services per annum. But, where is all of that money going? Read on to find our key insights from the day.
Steven Revill, CEO from Edinburgh-based organisation UrbanTide,highlighted in his talk Hangzhou, a Chinese city that is recognised as the smartest city in the world. With a population of 9 million residents, the whole city is controlled by Artificial Intelligence which began implementation as the “City Brain” project in 2016. The city infrastructure is altered on the fly by the AI system.
Residents are fully tracked - from where they are, to their activity on social media - and this data is uploaded to the AI database. The City Brain notifies residents - via their mobile - of any emergencies, traffic congestion and even updates on weather conditions. The Hangzhou citizens were not asked for permission for their data to be accessed and used in this way, but reports hail the project as a success. The city has announced a significant reduction in traffic congestion, road accidents and crime rates - so residents are happy with the process.
So, what about in the UK?
Whilst Steven made clear that we do not share data as well as we could, Cornwall has taken the first steps in building a Smart Community, with a 2020 vision to “develop the UK’s first fully integrated smart energy network”. The community consists of 300 connected houses where smart data is collected on heating and energy use and for monitoring the well being of the elderly.
During the conference, we also participated in a break out session ran by Sam Orton, Product Specialist of Yotta Ltd. Sam described how they are using IoT to develop Smart Motorways. These motorways are able to control vehicle speeds and predict road repairs, whilst also notify of any traffic accident or congestion.
Travel and Transport
A key discussion point at this year’s IoT conference was the exploration of travel and transport. IBM’s Industry Technical Leader for Travel and Transportation, Sharon Moore, took to the stage to deliver a sharp analysis of the industry. Sharon reiterated that research has shown how door-to-door travel is becoming less popular. Instead of packing a bag and stepping foot on a plane, people are swapping this physical experience for a virtual reality that takes place in the comfort of their own home.
Sharon noted how elements such as terrorism abroad is affecting the public’s desire to travel. Although virtual reality offers a simpler way to switch up scenery, the travel industry is therefore facing hardship. If people desire cheaper travel, then we must find a way to ensure that cultural and managerial attitudes are dealt with to counteract these new technologies.
An interesting example of how companies can combat this was from Boeing, who are using IoT to predict maintenance issues on their planes, therefore trying to increase the number of people who trust them to travel.
On the same thread, Europe’s largest cargo port, Rotterdam, have also used IoT to enhance the 42km area by implementing technologies which use sensors to measure water and weather changes. This has allowed shipping companies to predict the best times to enter port and improved safety by calculating clearance heights for the ships.
Next to take the stage was Martyn Wallace, CTO of the Scottish Digital Office, who is looking to work with organisations to develop Smart Homes. Martyn outlined new technologies that, if introduced into the home can improve well being, safety and save money for the home owners. The main benefactor of this use of the IoT would be the elderly, to alarm operators of any possible emergency.
He used an example of WiFi lighting in fridges, which allows the fridge to monitor whether or not it has been opened that day. Other examples of Smart Home technologies include reminder services, sensors, assistance devices and intelligent appliances.
The insights from the day gave such an inspiring look into the future of IoT technologies and their use in what will be a ‘Smart World’. However, the biggest message that came out of the conference was that although IoT is being used to develop Smart Cities, industries, Smart Homes and all of the above, we are still not collaborating and sharing enough and we are still working with the data in silos. We need to take more of a collaborative approach to this data, and close the skills gap for more people to get involved.