HereatCES: on the road to smart cities

I was invited to attend CES by the nice people at Here so I thought I’d write a little blogpost about what they are up to and what I thought.

First a little bit about them. here is a mapping company which is mostly owned by German automotive companies (Audi, BMW, Daimler) and recently sold a 10% stake to Navinfo, Tencent and GIC Private Limited and 15% to Intel. So it’s a company in transition in terms of its interest in the mapping space. It is clearly starting to invest in finding out exactly how maps and #iot can interact.

We (including Sayan who co-founded the Bangalore #iot meetup) were shown around 3-4 exhibits in their lovely 2 storey exhibit space right outside the Las Vegas Convention halls (so less crowded thank god).

The first exhibit reminded me of a Microsoft Surface or Reachable demo as it was using little units on top of a table-sized map to play with the different ‘city KPIs’ (which strangely included population level) and see how it may affect urban design decisions, upgrades in the system and general transportation decisions for city stakeholders. The data fuelling the maps was real time data that had been captured the year before and it was fun to see the extrapolated movements of the city. These changes were based on a report with projections from the city of Berlin. I think as a visualisation tool this is pretty nifty especially for city stakeholders, I can imagine them wanting to order one of these tables, but as a malleable piece of data gathering I suspect unless a city has a CTO, they won’t know how to feed this map with the right data. Population for eg. isn’t strictly predictable and may point to actions that have nothing to do with transport. The city may need to think about alternative transportation needs as older citizens lose their driving licenses in their 70s and hospitals start to engage with various ways of delivering services at home. Would the map highlight or help map this need? I’m not sure. Perhaps there is a demo version Here will invest in, some kind of SimCity way of looking at transportation as part of a broader ecosystem within the city. Showing the difference between bike, bus, delivery van and waste collection would be terrific and right now there’s no way to ‘feed’ that in unless the data is coming from a partner. That said Here is developing a developer platform which will be launched later today, so worth seeing who starts to play with what they have built.

The second showcase we were shown was the use of sensors inside cars to use computer vision and help map in real time parking lot availabilities for other drivers and also changes in the street signage and roadworks. We were shown the driver’s view as well as the ‘camera’s view’.
I’ve always been interested in construction sites as having an impact on roads, especially as a pedestrian who thankfully doesn’t have a disability. But if you’re in a wheelchair or blind and a road is suddenly obstructed overnight by new scaffolding how are you supposed to know unless the structure itself speaks to the ‘city’ and maps services like Here. Could a set of GPS units be helpful, when placed at the extremities of building scaffolding, in helping plan the anticipated change in travel for all citizens?

Lastly we were shown some Augmented Reality display which made me slightly queasy so I preferred meandering to the rest of the booth and looking at their future indoor mapping applications. I’m very interested in the edges of automation in a connected workplace so it was interesting to see that’s something Here are looking at.

There’s a lot there, so it’s worth rummaging around their site and having a look. They’ve got lots of offices around the world too and with the developer tools they’ve built and upcoming features, I’m sure they’ll want to talk to people from the London IOT Community. I’ll see how we can get them to come over and maybe run a workshop!

Interview with Liz Thrussell, freeman at The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists

Almost a year ago I had lunch with Liz Thrussell a freeman at the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, our hosts in tomorrow’s showcase event. They were keen to make sure young #iot startups were put in touch with the fantastic network of the livery company. I asked her a few questions:

What is a livery company?

The 110 livery companies in the City of London represent the traditional guilds in the City such as Goldsmiths, Apothecaries,  Ironmongers, Mercers, etc. dating back to the 12th Century.  They are commonly known as “The Worshipful Company of …….”.    The liveries play a significant part in City life, not least by providing charitable-giving and networking opportunities.

What does the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists do?

The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) is the 100th livery company in the City of London.  Our four main pillars are Charity, Education, Industry and Fellowship.  We support charities, run events and contribute to the advancement in information and communications technology.

How do you support startups in the technology sector?

We have mentoring programmes, pro-bono support and the Entrepreneurship Panel supports early stage IT companies.  We’ll present this briefly at the London Capital Club tomorrow!

 

Hope you’ll join us tomorrow!

 

London’s Connected Living Room

In October, we were very pleased to be hosted by City Hall who have offered us London’s Living Room. We showcased the best of local consumer #iot companies hoping to attract the GLA’s partners’ attention. #iot products and startups still struggle to find access to finance in this great city, so this is an exciting opportunity.

Companies present that evening:

Education

BBC micro:bit

SamLabs started by young graduates from Imperial College

Primo Toys

 

Smart business

Moo NFC cards, the latest product from this East London success story.

Provenance

 

Smart home products

Ding , who was just awarded £50K by the Design Council as a Spark finalist.

BleepBleeps

Trackener

Kemuri

Blue Maestro

Sherlock by One Fine Stay

Flood Network

nCube

 

Smart play experiences

I Can Make

Fabulous Beasts

Hackaball, started by Made by Many

 

Other

iotUK

 

Thanks to our friends Pypr for the video.