“Digital leadership is not a cliché but a necessity.” Christina Patsioura, IoT Research Analyst, Beecham Research

Smart Summit London, now in its third year, will welcome a number of expert speakers discussing the impact of IoT on Homes, Cities, Utilities, Insurance, Retail and Connectivity.
One of the speakers, Christina Patsioura is an IoT Research Analyst at Beecham Research LTD, with a particular focus on the Industrial IoT, Industry 4.0 and Industrial Analytics.

Since 2015, she has been working as an IoT Industry Analyst in Germany and the UK, monitoring the overall market activity, performing analyses of companies and use cases.

Christina, who will be moderating the ‘Understanding Public Sector Challenges’ panel in the Smart Cities Summit, took some time to complete the speaker questionnaire:
Please outline your role in smart city developments?
We at Beecham Research are operating as a Market Research and Consultancy for the Internet of Things and the Smart Services areas. In this context, we have published a number of relevant reports that cover the topics of Smart Cities Platforms, and we have been following the Smart Cities implementation projects quite closely. It has been a very interesting sector to keep an eye on, especially when talking directly with the affiliated vendors, learning about all the components that are needed in order to bring together a Smart City solution, that is fit for the very specific needs of the community.

What are your key highlights of advanced urban living?
The key trends are the following: people are increasingly concentrated in big urban environments, so-called mega-cities, however the trend of mobility is pretty evident. Increasingly, people, mostly the younger generations, are pretty mobile and seem to be in a need of having the right tools to support this lifestyle. Technology and digital tools, along with the necessary infrastructure, namely communication and transportation networks, are essential for this purpose.
Second trend, is the increasing lookout for experiences that can be “instagramed”; people are developing the habit of wanting to visit places that can offer an experience which they can later transfer it to their virtual world, their social media accounts and their computers so that they share this with their peer network and also “store” it for future views. For this purpose, people need the adequate network coverage, the right smart devices at their fingertips and the existence of platforms which can then be used in collaboration with their input of text, photos, data in general. These platforms are the mobile apps that allow for public exchange of comments and evaluations of places the people visit and services that are offered.
Third trend, is the increasing need to have access to online tools, to reach out to public authorities online, with the scope of gaining information, because of wanting to file complaints or even suggestions, to report malfunctions in the administration processes, etc. In order to be able to these, people are empowered through the provision of adequate digital eGovernance platforms. People want to be able to report an accident in the streets, the need for road maintenance, etc., quick and easily with the use of their smart mobile devices, and get some feedback from the respective authorities almost in real time.

What do you consider to be the best ways to involve citizens in smart city developments?
Smart Cities is the perfect area of implementation of all these new technological concepts such as the IoT, Big Data, Analytics, etc., that shows in the most eloquent way how important the human factor is. Smart Cities projects are always initiated by the public authorities, or at least, they require a strong involvement of the local policy entities in order to be fulfilled. The end-user of a Smart City feature, namely the smart street lighting, the real-time information on the local public transportation routes, the concept of open data and so on, always requires the citizen’s participation to this bi-directional communication. The best ways for these authorities to bring the active role of the citizen into the equation is through the provision of communication channels, we call them platforms, to do that. Imagine a faulty piece of infrastructure, say the holes on the streets. A Smart City feature would enable citizens to report these incidents to the relevant authorities, share it somewhere where every one of their fellow citizens would be able to know and to notify the maintenance workers on the location and the nature of the incident so that they come to fix that. Same story for eGovernance tools and the active participation to the official politics processes of the community. The logic is, that every one that wants to, should be able to reach out to every person who is affiliated and in charge of addressing their requests and vice versa. Means of massive yet smart communication is the key.
While citizen data is essential for shaping future city services, what are your thoughts on how and when it should be used?
There are mainly two prevalent approaches in the story of how the Smart City data should be used: the open and the closed one.
The open approach talks about the need to be open, meaning that a citizen of a Smart City should be able to access any type of data that is generated, in order to enhance their participation, their role to inquire and exert influence in the public affairs, but also in order to address their everyday issues and queries, in case they are enterprises the open approach would mean that they will be able to build services and provide added value from the process of the public data and so on. In this case, the role of the regulators, namely that of the connectivity providers, that of public authorities and the legislation bodies, is key to ensure that the data is being used appropriately and within a context that is in unison with the citizens rights and the laws of the country. For example, issues such as “the telecommunications provider see where I live, but they cannot access my health record” or “this retail company can see from where I shop everyday but they cannot use that for marketing purposes” etc. all these are questions that are already a big part of today’s debate in the public sphere and the Smart Cities landscape and it lies upon the hands of the local communities to decide.
How do you think information-sharing should be encouraged across departments and verticals, to foster collaborative planning?
Collaborative planning, data and information sharing and interdepartmental collaboration are primarily stemming from the existence of the relevant leadership and its ability to influence the internal processes. Digital leadership is not a cliché but a necessity. Especially in Smart Cities areas, we have never seen any actual project taking place that was not backed up by an adequate leadership initiative throughout the entire project’s horizon. If the leadership to foster such an environment is in place, then the human factor involved will adopt the right culture and facilitate the digitalisation of their everyday tasks and their operation.
Which connectivity options have you considered/chosen?
With Smart Cities projects, we have seen every type of connectivity being deployed for particular applications. There is not really the concept of “one-type-fits-all”. Any type of connectivity can be deployed according to the type of application, the infrastructure in place and the desired outcomes. Short range for product identification, LPWA for monitoring of assets, satellite for vehicles and traffic management and so on.
How is technology developing to support vehicles and transport of the future?
There is a lot of activity underway for the so-called autonomous driving vehicles. We have seen a couple of pilot projects where autonomous vehicles were deployed as means of public transportation in real life conditions. In the majority of these cases, the city infrastructure provided an adequate environment for these vehicles to be tested, namely small to medium-sized cities, with limited to medium traffic, where the respect for disabled people is quite wide, as well as cycling is really popular, etc. There is an issue about whether autonomous driving vehicles could co-exist with the traditional human-driving vehicles, cope with pedestrians, etc., significant improvements are made in the artificial intelligence computers that are used to drive the most advanced cars, but there is still a lot to be done until we can live in an autonomous driving world. Another, more immediate and important trend, is that of the electrification of vehicles. I believe that soon most cities will have a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles moving around.
How is smart technology addressing climate change concerns?
Smart Technologies, most importantly the Internet of Things, are based on data – its collection, analysis and usage. Data is stemming from devices and humans and can influence, if not transform, the way devices and humans function. In this sense, Smart Technologies can pave the way to the Green future we all envisage, by enabling people to use environmentally friendly means of transportation, adjust their consumer habits accordingly, control and enable the minimisation of resources used by factories and enterprises, etc. In some cases, the industry is not oriented to address these changes that are needed, for example the autonomous driving cars manufacturers are mostly interested in advancing the technology that drives their vehicles and not that which minimises the fuel consumption or the one that can electrify their vehicles. Therefore, government, local authorities, policy entities and citizens associations are in the position to exert a great deal of influence if they can understand the way these smart technologies work. An example stemming from the IoT and the Smart Cities area would be a smart parking implementation: sensors to be installed need not only track the position and traffic of vehicles, but they can also be used to monitor the fuel consumption and provide a policy tool to the public authorities so that they provide benefits to car drivers who are not polluting with their driving behaviour. The IoT and the Smart Technologies will find their mission to enable green cities.
Discussing the funding issues – which services are more likely to receive funding and which are seen as “nice to have”?
The funding for the Smart Cities projects primarily derives from the state, the European Union’s for the EU countries, or the local communities budget. It is therefore, imperative to make use of public money for useful and essential things and not “nice to have” ones. As for which services are worth to be funded this is entirely a domestic issue that the citizens community need to address along with all the stakeholders that are involved in such a project. We at Beecham are continuously observing the geographic variations of applications that are built with the same technological tools. Just because you have specific tools in place, it does not mean that you will need to replicate the same cases, simply because each community has its own issues to face. For example, a company providing IoT-based solutions for Smart Cities can be found to implement a utilities management project with the aim to increase efficiency in one city, and for public safety reasons in another one. Smart Technologies have the participation of the end-user, or in the case of Smart Cities, that of the citizen, at their core.
How far will automation go in the smart city?
It highly depends on the infrastructure that the city can provide. Τhe areas where a city can see the benefits of automation include the public administration related services, for example ATMs providing documents the citizens need, information requesting in disparate spots in the city, and so on, of course transportation is a key area for automation, including automated guided vehicles as well as smart parking, fleet management for the local authorities services, such as garbage collection, traffic management, utilities maintenance, and so on.
Where do opportunities lie for future city developments?
Although we are accustomed to talking about Smart Cities as a standalone concept, more of an umbrella term for a specific set of solutions, each city has its own unique needs that can be addressed in very specific ways. For example, metropoles differ quite a lot comparing to the smaller towns, we see an interesting diversification of Smart Cities activities according to different locations and geographies and all these add to the fact that, first, each application is unique in the end of the day, and, second, the human factor and the way people respond to and interact with technology, is the defining factor of the success and development of a Smart City project.
More or less, the technology is in place, the tools are existing, the companies are gearing up to develop their smart solutions. Now it lays in the hands of the community to take advantage of the offerings and integrate them in order to make citizens everyday life better. 

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About Smart Summit London

Smart Summit is a 2 day conference and exhibition covering the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and its impact on the digital society.

Now in its 3rd year, the event features Europe's leading Smart Home Summit and a further 5 tracks all designed to compliment each other.

With over 180 visionary speakers, gain a unique insight from industry heavyweights and hear case study examples from major contributors.

Make sure you are present in London on the 19th and 20th September for THE Smart IoT event of 2017.