Smart City Santander: Proven Technology, Uncertain Business Models

The city of Santander boasts 20,000 fixed and mobile sensors throughout the city – on buses, in parks, waste bins and in buildings.  These sensors capture bus locations, humidity in the air and soil, pollution etc. They tell bus riders when their bus will arrive; they tell city park workers when to water the gardens. They also dim lights when there is no one on the street at night, and turn them on when cars or pedestrians pass. They create a complex internet of things and a rich source of data. Together with the platform enabling the aggregation, analysis and visualization of these data, they (will) provide a valuable tool at the disposal of city leaders, enterprises, developers and citizens. Today Smart Santander is a living lab (with an application pending to be part of the European Network of Living Labs). 

Having launched in September 2010 with €6 million budget (primarily from the EU) and 15 partners, the project is now in its 3rd and final phase.  With its sensor network, the city demonstrates the benefits of the Internet of Things across several initiatives:

  • Urban mobility: Sensors on buses and in taxis make it easier for citizens and tourists to find transportation; parking sensors help drivers find available places more quickly.
  • Water management: Sensors embedded in urban gardens detect soil humidity and enable more efficient watering; the broader water initiative envisions smart water meters in homes and buildings, and use of the sensors by Aqualia, the city’s water company.
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Mind The Tech Expectations Gap:Many Employees Are Not Satisfied With Work Technologies, Especially In Europe

“Happy employees make happy customers” or so the saying goes. Employee satisfaction and engagement are correlated to business outcomes.  Finding the right employees, providing them the tools they need to do their jobs, keeping the good ones happy, and keeping them around is the job of the whole organization – even the CIO.  Yet employees report significant dissatisfaction with the technology provided to them at work:  the technology expectations gap.  And that gap is more pronounced in Europe than elsewhere. 

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New Data Brokers Will Drive The Data Economy

With all the talk of data out there, who is actually using it and what are they using?  Turns out, most data used in the enterprise today comes from internal applications. That is starting to change, and the trend will accelerate.  But for now, when asked which data types were important to their firm’s overall business strategy, the majority of business intelligence users and planners cited internal sources such as transactional data from corporate apps or other customer data. Only about 1/3 of respondents reported the importance of external sources such as scientific data, partner data or other 3rd party data. Fewer still used unstructured external data such as Twitter feeds or other social media sources. Current data sources are limited.  Yet both business and IT decision-makers recognize the need to improve their use of data:  56% of business and IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester see improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes as a top priority. And, that potentially includes expanding the use of external data... if they can find it.   

Where do they go for external data?  What types of data might complement their transactional and other internal data? How can corporate strategists and market research teams identify new sources of information? Where can they find them, and how can they acquire and consume them? Can they be combined with internal data? Are the sources safe? reliable? sustainable?

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