Smart City Themes

We’ll explore a wide range of key themes and ask searching questions around those themes. A selection of the questions we’ll ask at Venturefest include:

Smart Energy

A smart energy system fit for the 21st Century needs to radically rethink the place that energy holds in the world and in our lives.

Tomorrow’s energy system needs to minimise wastage, optimise efficiency, utilise storage to flatten peak demand, deal effectively with decentralised production through renewables, respond to user demand for real-time household data, engage with the marketplace for smart meters, apps and devices.

These allow users more convenience and control, focus on affordability, nudge behaviours through smart tariffs, and build resilience to climate change, fluctuating energy markets and other infrastructure stresses.

  • How can we make sure that a decentralised energy grid is resilient to future shocks and stresses?
  • If scale is needed for effective production, storage and offsetting peak demand, is this only for large corporates or will a distributed methodology be effective?
  • What is the appropriate regulatory environment?
  • Will smart energy grids lead to the end of fuel poverty or increase it?
  • In the ‘Internet of Energy’ who will win the battle to be ‘Google’?

Intelligent Transport

Urban mobility has undergone a radical shift from the large-scale public infrastructure and the private automobile to the rise of mobility on demand services like Uber, and collaborative lift share services like BlaBlaCar. Yet most city’s roads are still congested.

Amazon and Just Eat look to robots and drones to optimise delivery, and city authorities look at clear air zones, smart parking and dynamic charging to shift demand.

But consumers expect a quick, cashless, low-cost service from A – B and care little for the regulatory, commercial, or privacy policies needed to make that the norm.

Yet most city’s roads are still congested. Amazon and Just Eat look to robots and drones to optimise delivery, and city authorities look at clear air zones, smart parking and dynamic charging to shift demand. But consumers expect a quick, cashless, low-cost service from A – B and care little for the regulatory, commercial, or privacy policies needed to make that the norm.

  • What is the roadmap to driverless cars, who owns and regulates the infrastructure and what commercial models of operation might we expect?
  • As we move towards Mobility as a Service – who will the main providers be, who will be the early adopters?
  • Is it the streets or the skies in the battle for fast, low-cost delivery?
  • How can we value our air quality as much as our road independence, and whose data can we trust?
  • Are successful cities also walkable cities?
  • Connected infrastructure requires detailed data layers about the city and other moving parts – who should own it, how should it be refreshed, and who pays?
  • Dare we envisage an intelligent mobility system where no one ever dies again in a road traffic accident?

Intelligent Infrastructure

Embedded sensors and ubiquitous digital communication networks are enabling a world where ‘dumb’ and ‘silent’ infrastructure assets are springing to life. These assets are becoming increasingly intelligent, connected and self-aware.

Intelligent infrastructure holds the potential to create new models of asset management, allaying fears of uncertainty about the lifespan, and declining availability of funds for maintenance and upkeep.

Shared business cases for co-investment and city management systems could create a new resilience to increasing shocks and stresses.

  • What needs to change in the Planning System to enable the delivery of ‘digitally enabled’ places?
  • Who will design and build smart homes, how do they know what the market wants and needs?
  • Is effective city management based on real-time big data more important than personal privacy?
  • How will VR and AR impact on the future public realm?
  • Can IoT help deliver infrastructure that is resilient to climate change and other stresses?

Smart Living

What does it mean to ‘live smart’ in a world where there are more connected devices than people, yet natural resources are increasingly scarce?

Where intelligent systems are fast replacing traditional jobs but there are 650,000 Air BnB landlords in 191 countries? Where a data trail arises from virtually every human interaction but data ownership is rarely discussed or understood?

Smart Living will explore how digital technology is impacting on all aspects of our day-to-day life, from health to wealth; employment and skills to home, family and leisure.

  • Whose data is it anyway?
  • Can the shared economy also be a fair economy?
  • What will we count when we’re bored of counting our steps?
  • Is online gaming a valuable work skill?
  • Will conversational interfaces replace the need for screens?
  • Is smart living going to reduce climate change?
  • Do I want a robot helper when I am old?
  • Are smart cities more sociable?
  • How do we teach technical skills for technology that doesn’t exist yet? And who should pay?

Smart Money

The banking and finance sector is anticipating more change in the next two years than in the last 200. Technology is the driver with Blockchain, Bitcoin, Crowdfunding, mobile payments and Peer-to-Peer Lending leading causing a level of disruption that will change our relationship with money forever.

  • Will open standards for banking create a new market for data driven apps and services, helping us manage our money more effectively?
  • Will Blockchain replace our need for banks?
  • How long before we become a cashless society, and what are the risks of a phone for a wallet?
  • Can digital enable citizens to co-invest in city infrastructure?
  • Is there a backup if the whole system crashes? How vulnerable have we made already made ourselves?
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