A Look Into 2019: Smart Cities and Smart Buildings

What's in store for next year in these areas of innovation?
Published: January 6, 2019

The new year is right around the corner. What does it have in store for smart city and building initiatives? Taking a look ahead, here are my three bold predictions for 2019.

2019 Will Be a Year of Experimentation for Smart Spaces
Work has been evolving in recent years. The focus of smart spaces will be to accommodate a new way of working, with more remote work, digitally enabled work and flexible work. Employees need spaces that can adapt to their everchanging priorities and needs. 2019 will continue to be a phase of experimentation as the tech giants of Silicon Valley lead the charge and discover which smart applications work and which ones may fall flat. Owners and operators will learn from these technology companies and adapt what works to a variety of tenants, not all of which are tech-savvy, exploring smart applications that drive adoption and ease of use with employees and give operators greater visibility into their operations.

Additionally, property owners will leverage use cases for preventing equipment failures and costly system replacements, responding to emergency events and automating routine workflows to mitigate initial technology investment costs.

IoT Platforms That Drive Results Will Move Beyond the Trough of Disillusionment
With Internet of Things (IoT) platforms squarely in the trough of disillusionment (part of Gartner’s “Hype Cycle,” referring to a period during which interest in a technology wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver), the next five years will need to show solid, easy-to-understand case studies that demonstrate the value of the IoT. During the next five years, organizations will focus on data and outcomes enabled by IoT platforms, and that focus will drive real results. Commercial real estate will reach large-scale implementations of IoT applications that automate some tasks first, ahead of health care, due to its highly regulated nature.

Harbor Research has noted four critical needs for IoT platforms as they evolve in 2019 and beyond, including:
• Enablement of real-time temporal, spatial and state-based contextual processing
• Providing tools for the development of real-time applications
• Simultaneous and asynchronous action on any type of information from any device, storage or streaming source
• Configurable software platform architecture enabling both peer-to-peer and client-server distribution of services

Smart Buildings Will Move Beyond Their Walls to Connect With Smart Cities
For smart cities to gain traction, we need to focus the agenda for smart cities toward smaller use-case studies for improving areas like public safety and sustainability. That needs to start with connecting the information inside the built environment to a smart-city context. Recently, significant advances have been made to connect these built environments with the cities that surround them, particularly with sensors that connect buildings to existing infrastructure.

The sharing of information between these smart buildings and smart cities needs to happen through a common infrastructure, as well as common data standards and access models, prioritizing interests of citizens and businesses to improve city life and safety. In the near future, smart building technology will be integrated with smart-city services to save lives by automatically updating first-responders on security lockdowns, building fires and medical emergencies. However, for smart cities to succeed, deployments should focus on the technology’s intent, and not on the technological capabilities, to improve outcomes.

Franco Castaldini is ThoughtWire‘s chief commercial officer. He is a veteran marketing, business-development and product-strategy executive who has led high-growth go-to-market strategies for innovative startups and large global enterprises. He joins ThoughtWire from GE Digital, where he led the commercial strategy for a high-productivity application-development platform. Franco joined GE Digital with the acquisition of Bit Stew Systems, where he helped to position the company for rapid growth and its successful exit in late 2016 for $208 million. Earlier in his career, Franco was the president of Leva Energy, a company he co-founded, which developed an innovative distributed generation system for industrial and commercial companies.