Resolutions and Predictions

Making this real….

It’s not like me to be this open about my views, I’m normally a Reflective Introvert (an ISTJ for those who know), but I feel like times are a changing...

As such, I’m not normally a fan of New Year’s resolutions or predictions but by Walking the Talk of some of my previous blog posts I’m resolving to take a lead and provide some thought leadership, rather than regurgitate somebody else’s views.

Big Data (BD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are no longer buzz terms and have moved on from being localised prototypes, to actually making a real impact in more ways than you think.

In my field of the Built Environment; which includes the full life cycle of physical infrastructure and its use (not just buildings), the evidence of BD and IoT is slowly starting to emerge.

They are becoming real in the form of ‘Smarter’ initiatives such as Smart Cities and Smart Buildings. (Credit to IBM who championed this terminology). And we’ve all heard of Smart Motorways… (My experience on the M62 for the past 10 years has been largely positive – AFTER the works are complete!).

Some further examples are:

  • Smart Cities – using enhanced Public area street/mall lighting to monitor and manage traffic. Using big data to predict high risk buildings susceptible to fires, geo-tagged movement of vehicles and people across cities shows where to target or avoid for many commerce based initiatives.
  • Smart Buildings – Complete Front of House experience solutions – Security Access and Control, Direction services, Room Booking, Desk use Detection – real-time analysis and management of your property utilisation.
  • Smart Equipment – notifies you of service / maintenance needs – flagging risks before they become issues, optimising the assets’ use of energy and extending its operational life.

It’s great to hear that my own city of Manchester is leading the way in making this real on a city wide scale too

Manchester is working to see how BD and IoT can improve healthcare; transport; energy and environment; and culture and community – using the built environment as its physical IT network and using its citizens as the bits and bytes of data flowing around it.

This is not just some large scale experiment. It’s a piece of innovation and a natural evolution. Why do it? Well it’s to help enhance our lives. The application of BD and IoT can be applied democratically. For example: pollution sensors that help people avoid high polluted areas on their commutes, prioritised cycling lanes to favour the volume of cyclists in use or favour cars if not cyclists and adjusting / targeting public transport to suit demand.

This is important because our cities, buildings and built environment are being used at an increasing rate. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have captured this in an entertaining and informative way with their Futures report and video.

What people might not recognise…

What’s really enlightening is the way that:

  1. The tech bit, should be (and is), transparent to the beneficiary (you and me).
  2. Without knowing it, our behaviour creates the data that drives the benefit.
  3. The insight from the data is highly visual and intuitive.

‘Open data’ at a very public and granular level is being used to make important far reaching decisions. Big corporate systems are no longer in control of everything.

Control is in the hands of organisations that can use that data and then passed to those who want to benefit from it; easily a cheaply.

The gap between data helping to overcome a problem with a solution is massively shortened and made available to all.

Oh and just for those who think this is all a bit too far fetched…will those smart systems start to ‘learn’ from that open and public data – you betcha!

Removing a layer of manual intervention is positive and as ‘things’ become even more intelligent, the Turing Test will be substantiated.

2016 -2020…

One of the reasons offered as to why the above might never become a reality, is that organisations will be reluctant to share data to allow this to happen. In my view this misses the point about the whole ‘Open’ world we now live in (OpenGovernment, OpenSource, OpenData and OpenStandards etc). Linked to the above – data and its use is becoming more and more democratised and commoditised.

Whilst some organisations will be mandated to share and use Open Data, others will freely volunteer it and instead choose to create wealth from its shared use. Increasing amounts of data will simply be free to consume.

For example – What’s the point of maintaining a fault in a building within an agreed four hour service window if your data is telling you that nobody has travelled to the office that day? Equally, does the severity of that fault get raised if you know it is effecting the productivity of your organisation? What about measuring and prioritising those kinds of decisions at a city wide level? All these scenarios are possible with real-time Open data fed by things and people.

The extension to what we are seeing right now is that the built environment will be controlled in a more real-time way. The levers that control its use (desks in buildings, cars on roads, visitors to hospitals, etc.) will come from their actual use. Moreover, organisational strategies will consider the dynamic use of data more and more and will therefore need to be increasingly agile. Any long awaited standardisation of built environment data will not happen. So whilst I remain one of the biggest proponents of quality data, going forward, patterns in open data will be used more than relying on precise matching of data fields.

In five years’ time I predict that our built environment will be managed and controlled by real-time use and sharing of open data, without the need for data standards.

Organisations who can bring this vision to life will be the winners.

Blimey…not like me to be that confident…I’ll be watching this space.

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