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The Convergence of Select for Cities Vision and Reality at SCEWC18

At Select we have a vision of connected cities, where people, processes, data and things are all linked, actionable intelligence is easily extracted, and personalised services are available on demand. In our future cities are the frontier of open innovation. Thanks to the Internet-of-Everything people can share ideas, rapidly create and test new urban services and in effect, anyone can be an innovator.

It’s a vision shared by many in the Smart Cities world, and last week 21c Managing Director, Susie Ruston McAleer, representing Select for Cities, joined the Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) stand at the Smart Cities Expo and World Congress (SCEWC) in Barcelona to see how much closer we are to achieving this future. Here are the three things she learned.

1. 5G is almost here!

It was impossible to take a turn anywhere in the expo without hearing the buzz of ‘5G’ on someone’s fast moving lips. For those not in the know, 5G is the innovative next (fifth) generation of mobile connectivity which will offer ten times faster speeds than today’s networks and will carry vast amounts of data to make IoT and the Internet-of-Everything a reality. Whilst today’s network architectures are insufficient to cope with Select for Cities Internet-of-Everything goal, 5G with its new spectrum and lower latency will make it much easier to handle hundreds of thousands of devices simultaneously. To date 5G has almost been grouped in a category of mythical powers, widely talked about but rarely seen in practice. SCEWC however has changed that with companies including Cisco, Ericsson and Samsung all announcing trials in 2019.

2. Cities are embracing the Platform economy

Digital platforms in recent years have been proven to drive innovation and change the way services are created, delivered and consumed, putting people at the centre of their own worlds. Private companies such as Airbnb and Uber have led the way with new platform-based business models, and now Cities are keen to embrace the opportunities platform thinking provides to deliver better city experiences for their residents and visitors. However, unlike the private sector, the public sector has no room for failure, so a range of potential issues must be thought through first including data ownership, privacy, labour laws and trust. In the spirit of ‘practicing what you preach’ 42 cities leading the sharing economy including Barcelona, Amsterdam, New York, Paris and Singapore converged at SCEWC and agreed 10 principles to help the public sector leverage the power of the platform economy.

3. R&D procurement is becoming more agile

The days of 150-page bids and loooong delivery times are gradually falling behind us. Bureaucratic processes benefit no one, not the city needing help, or the supplier with a potential solution. Today thanks to new procurement practices such as PCP, PPI and other open accelerator calls there is a wealth of small to medium funding opportunities that Contractors can apply for to help fund and quickly advance their innovations. On the OASC booth alone these included SELECT for Cities itself, SCIFI which uses an accelerator programme to test the framework conditions for innovation in mobility, energy, and clean environment and SynchroniCity who recently closed its call for next-generation Internet-of-Things solutions.

So, what does this all mean for the SELECT for Cities and all the Contractors who have taken part in the pre-commercial procurement competition to build large-scale Internet-of-Everything platforms? Well in a nutshell the convergence between the city platform vision and reality is almost upon us, and the Contractors are well placed to lead and take this new market forward in a manner that works for them. By the end of SELECT in 2019 they will not only have viable working solutions but also credentials and case studies from real-life deployments in the SELECT procuring cities of Helsinki and Antwerp. By investing in the future through R&D they are positioned both as the go-to experts for open innovation platforms, but also as pioneers of the procurement revolution.

For more information on Select for Cities ambitions and to find out more about the three Contractors (Team Engineering, Team Indra and Team University of Florence) who will be testing their prototype platforms in the Living Labs of Helsinki and Antwerp, go to

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