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Monday, December 1, 2014
What’s the Second Act for the World’s First Intelligent Community?

While in Singapore earlier this year, I had the chance to meet with executives of the Infocomm Development Authority, the government agency responsible for that city-state’s information and communications technology.  Singapore was named ICF’s very first Intelligent Community of the Year in 1999.  So, fifteen years later, what kind of second act has it come up with?


Singapore, if you’re not familiar with it, is an urban nation located on an island at the southern tip of the Malay Penninsula.  Since gaining its independence from Malaysia in 1965, it has risen into the top ranks of industrialized nations, with the third-highest per-capita income in the world.  That feat is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Singapore’s only natural resources are the ones between its people’s ears.  It is one of the top five busiest ports in the world, the fourth biggest financial center, and a production hub that generates 26% of GDP from manufacturing.

Singapore became our first Intelligent Community because of its early success in building a ubiquitous broadband network called Singapore One.  They have not been letting the grass grow under their feet since then.  Starting in 2010, they set out to become a “Smart Nation” by creating a new national broadband network (NBN) operating at much higher speed and serving as an engine for education, innovation and economic growth. 

Their NBN has much in common with Australia’s national project.  Both aim for “open access,” meaning a network that stimulates competition rather than entrenches monopoly.  The government is the “NetCo,” responsible for building and operating the underlying fiber infrastructure.  It licenses “OpCos” or operating companies to run the active transmission systems on the NetCo asset.  The nine current OpCos include incumbents like SingTel as well as newer entrants like BlueTel, Tata and StarHub.  They sell bandwidth to retail service providers (RSPs), of which there are currently 27, and it is the RSPs that actually deliver services to customers.

By separating the various levels of the network, Singapore’s NBN encourages aggressive competition, which boosts performance, lowers costs and generates new kinds of services.  Since January 2012, the NBN has grown subscribers by 45% to 550,000.  Singapore’s average download speed leaped 690% to 67 Mbps from the start of NBN services to mid-2013, and average upload speed is right behind it at 53 Mbps.  Prices, meanwhile, tend to fall, particularly for packages with speeds of over 200 Mbps.  

Best of all, the RSPs are beginning to figure out ways to make money with all that bandwidth.  You can sign up for a “Fibre Plan for Gamers” if you need flaming-fast response times to battle intergalactic evil.  A student package includes access to a vast database of resources, while a monitoring and surveillance service lets you keep track of your property 24x7.   There is even a “Time-Critical Financial Data Services Delivery” that lets individuals and small businesses play on the same field as the flash traders. 

At first glance, this may seem just another top-down, government-knows-best kind of project, which so often fails to deliver what it promises.  But look closer, and you see Singapore doing what it has done well for five decades: building great infrastructure and creating clear policy rules, so that investors and innovators can get to work.  Call it urban and regional planning at its best, and a prime example of the Revolutionary Community at work. 

Nobody in the world knows yet what to do with speeds of 100, 200 or 1,000 Mbps at the residential and small business level.  To find out, you have to do what Singapore is doing – and a lot of us will be learning from the world’s first Intelligent Community for years to come.

Monday, November 24, 2014
The Part that is Broken is the Part You Plan For (Part 1)


A man who knows a little something about planning and nurturing a community, Dominican preacher Walter Wagner, the pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer parish in New York, is the unlikely source for the best thought to guide our new theme and the sixth criteria for this year’s Smart21 communities.  Writing about the deep, emotional disruptions that change activates within us, Father Walter writes, “Life moves.  Awareness of creation reveals flux in each situation and departure in every relationship.  While life’s currents carry gifts of surprise and relief in their wake, their flow also surfaces one of life’s great, intractable pains: homesickness.  This ache knows no boundaries.  It steals its way into our heart, all the way into our living room.  Homesickness brews loneliness, fatigue, frustration, and hurt.  This combination serves up a longing for a place where we might be safe, warm, carefree, known, understood, provided for and cherished.  The heart pleads, ‘Is this too much to ask?’

As we look around the world, it seems that too often the answer is, “Yes.”  But to those of us interested in building the intelligent community, and sensing that a healthy place to call “home” must be the foundation for any attempt at a good life, our new Smart21 offer diverse examples of how planning and execution remove some of the ache for home that Wagner writes about.  In our new group of candidates for Intelligent Community of the Year, a combination of technology and leadership, along with an embrace of the rough truths about change, seem to have been identified.  The planning efforts among the new Smart21 take change into consideration.  They recognize changes in their communities and follow by taking action.  You cannot do better than this.  (Well, maybe a little better.  Read on.) 

Adopting to change is front and center this year.  It is the reason why our sixth criteria is so important.  It is also why the new Smart21 have an obligation to show us – and to show you – their best ideas for planning communities.  It is the reason why I ask everyone who comes up to me after a speech the same question, “Do you like living here?”  If they answer yes, I know something good has happened and that it can be extracted and perhaps multiplied through planning and collaboration.

One of our newest Intelligent Communities, Sherbrooke, Canada (population 169,200), symbolizes this harsh acceptance of change over a long-term.  In the community’s nomination form, it admitted candidly that it experienced “a particularly difficult transition for a city with a culture derived from heavy manufacturing, lifetime employment and a mistrust of successful entrepreneurs.”  That last phrase caught my eye.  This was a place where unexpected occurrences, like the globalization which pounded it in the early part of this new century, was not a welcomed newcomer.  Sherbrooke admits that its basic problem was that there was no home planned for the unexpected or for change of any kind.  Not until 2007. In that year the mayor brought together 300 stakeholders to identify a new direction and set free a new spirit.  Five years later, the city formed an Intelligent Community Roundtable with several goals, one of which was to improve the lives of its citizens using digital technology and to “break the silos formed by local institutions…to increase collaboration.”

Embedded in this story of an aspiring Top7 community is the basis for an idea whose time has come for urban planners, forward-thinking mayors and especially those of you tasked with plans for the rollout of Intelligent Communities.   It is to plan for ways to enable stakeholders and citizens to profit from the transitions that are coming, rather than to be shaken to the core by them.  We talk a lot about turning the unexpected, or the “broken,” into the welcomed.  It is sprinkled throughout our ethos of entrepreneurship, which has added the worship of “failure” on everyone’s list of buzz ideas.  But no one knows what that really means from a planning perspective, since most plans still suggest a linear trajectory for a place and its economy.  We remain risk adverse at the deepest levels.

Should a new planning exercise, one that launches a “revolutionary community,” include an anticipation of where fissures will occur?  Not only to not only plan for them, but to embrace them?  Should we be looking at the parts of a community that seem “busted” much differently?  As tangible assets?  Perhaps. There are profitable analogies to the success of Regent Park in Toronto, whose Artscape organization looked at one of the nastiest public housing communities in the city and decided that there was a buried treasure in the art and culture that had sprung forth as a defense against the ache of poverty.  (Check out the surrounding real estate prices NOW in that once-busted place, where business people, poets and painters thrive.)  See also Austin, Texas, a former Top7 city, which doubles in size every 20 years because it has been able to become a true home to thousands of the students who go there to be part of “the blueberry in the sea of red tomatoes.”

Perhaps last year’s theme, “Community as Canvas” has as much to teach us about the riches among the busted as this year’s theme.  Italian chef, Massimo Bouttara, an artist who is passionate about community, tells a story that is perfect for this approach.  While taking a lemon tart from his kitchen to serve to customers, it broke into pieces and fell onto the counter.  While his assistant wanted to commit hara-kiri, Bouttara looked at his broken parts and made a dish from it.  The Broken Lemon Tart has become iconic and viral.  It made him rich, his restaurants impossible to get into and has reinforced the creative potency that relies less on planning and more on innovation during a storm.

We can chew on that as we watch our Smart21 serve us more insights between now and January.

Monday, November 17, 2014
The Internet of Things Part 2: Creating Smarter Cities – to become Intelligent Communities and how the evolution and adoption of the Internet of Things will help to shape them around the world

https://www.intelligentcommunity.org/clientuploads/Images/Jung-Blog-DesigningComm.gifCities that are applying Internet of Things applications, linking their device’s identifiers are doing so to monitor and measure for efficiencies, security and higher productivity. Often this is referred to as developing “Smart Cities”. In the process, they track their municipal assets, improve processes and controls, track behaviors and preferences, improve overall service and traffic efficiencies and establish themselves as leaders in economic development through differentiating themselves among competitive cities. Routers, meters, digitally-tagged devices and Internet of Things-related initiatives help to generate large amounts of data that help decision makers make better evidence-based informed decisions, reducing costs and positively impacting budgets. It also provides a sense of the public’s acceptance and changing behaviors – feedback and citizen satisfaction of existing or new initiatives and services. In an age when traffic movement is critical and municipal utilities and resources such as water and clean air are vital to a city’s existence, smart city infrastructure is a key element in the creation and survival of cities in the future. In addition to monitoring efficiencies and for trouble spots, the analyzed data can undertake predictive maintenance of these assets as well.

While smart infrastructure is valuable in city development and sustainability, an Intelligent Communities’ approach is more holistic; more people-centric; and advocates open source, shared and inclusionary systems. Smart Cities are a reflection of a city that works better; an Intelligent Community reflects a city in which people live better.

The drivers of smart cities are smart infrastructure and asset management monitoring, generating data which is analyzed and with which better decision-making is possible. This will lead to reduced costs and continuous improvement which in turn leads to efficiencies, predictive maintenance and the ability to anticipate problems in advance. By proactively coordinating scarce municipal resources to operate effectively and improve systems on a continuous basis, this verges on being revolutionary. Hence, smart cities help drive a more efficient city, which is able to be marketed as a more competitive environment, and thereby adding to its sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

The drivers of Intelligent Communities are people (talent and leadership), innovation and creativity, inclusion, advocacy and marketing, sustainability, collaboration, and, oh yes, advanced, smart city infrastructure. By incorporating the Internet of Things in a more horizontal, open source and shared ecosystem, people at all levels will be able to create increased social, economic and cultural opportunities and live better lives. This is a community approach focused on people and not just systems, technology and data.

So how can we create better and more sustainable innovation ecosystems and ensure that everyone in society will benefit from these decisions? Are we training people to be able to benefit from the Internet of Things and are there other ways to learn, explore and innovate? For instance, in addition to traditional education, can “maker-spaces” become the new classrooms? Can creative enterprise evolve from access to affordable, standardized and interoperable technologies that advance the opportunities inherent in adopting the Internet of Things more holistically across the board?  Can an Internet of Things ecosystem be part of the creative solutions needed to evolve smart cities into Intelligent Communities? What are the roles of the public, private and institutional sectors in these efforts and who are its champions and advocates? Is a bottom-up approach involving social media the way to engage inclusiveness and involve the greater population to ensure long term sustainability? The Intelligent Community movement and its key criteria are at the heart of all of these questions.

In the Waterloo Region of Canada, Intelligent Community of the Year in 2007, one of its cities, Cambridge partnered with IBM, Blackberry and the Government of Canada in a unique research project that provided Cambridge with the tools they needed to enhance their asset management system and related business processes for the municipality. The partnership undertook an integrated approach. They applied routers, measurement devices and sensors to meet a variety of department needs; measured and analyzed data from different departments and applied the collected information into insight and knowledge that was shared across all city departments and for planning and budgeting purposes. The system that was developed will also allow any private service providers working on initiatives with the city to add to the data mix. The program that its partners assembled called Analytics for City Services and Safety (ACCESS) allows the city to compile and synchronize data and to interpret it from a variety of perspectives. Its aim is to optimize capital spending in order to achieve the highest value in investing in infrastructure and for the opportunity to renew its systems and processes in the most economic and efficient way possible. Essentially, the goal is to significantly improve utilization of limited resources. However it should also lead to the highest level of sustainability as a result of this predictive maintenance.

Another set of benefits emerged for Cambridge as a result of this focused approach to asset management. The Asset Management Division was created which can now systematically collects all of the “big data” that is generated on all aspects of the city’s infrastructure and independently analyze it to take a city-owned long-term approach to its maintenance, operation, rehabilitation, and replacement of all its key assets, annually saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for the municipality. This will give Cambridge a competitive edge by making it possible that all its systems are healthy, efficiently managed and cost-effective. This type of city intelligence is also attractive to investing companies, local businesses and its citizens. Currently the city monitors and analyzes data from tens of thousands of related control devices monitoring over 2000 km of underground water mains, sanitary pipes, storm sewer pipes, roads and sidewalks. With increasing connections to the city’s soft infrastructure such as parks, schools, bus stops, sports and cultural facilities, Cambridge has become a model of how the Internet of Things can benefit a society.

Not to be outdone, Cisco and the city of Nice, France are undergoing research in the ”Connected Boulevard“ initiative. This experiment applies the Internet of Things to the urban management of a street with sensors installed in everything from street lights, parking metres and sidewalks to waste containers. The data is collected in real time by 200 devices which are continuously analyzed to provide information ranging from traffic flow, energy consumption and even the level of cleanliness on the street. In addition to sensors and devices, Nice has also built the capacity to capture a variety of data from daily life through a hybrid network infrastructure including Cisco`s Wi-Fi network. According to Cisco, ``the data is processed into real-time information and converted into intelligence with the help of context-aware location analytics, before being disseminated to serve multiple services in city operations and for city dwellers. It is an Internet-centric "always-on" platform designed to be resilient, extensible, highly secure and agile, through several interoperable layers. The Connected Boulevard is a multi-stakeholder collaboration integrating various solutions from different international and local companies.” Early projections suggest that this initiative can prove that these measures will contribute to the reduction of traffic congestion by 30% and energy costs can be reduced by 80% as a result of the synchronization of street lighting on a need-basis.

As we learn more about the benefits that the Internet of Things will bring into our lives, we will need to invest as society into the training, research and constant improvement for analyzing the data that comes with these new connections of devices everywhere. Beyond machine to machine connections and provisioning sensors to create more efficient municipal infrastructure, new ways to be more productive and innovative with the Internet of Things is being undertaken every day. For instance, this is already taking place in Columbus, Ohio where IBM, Ohio State University and Columbus 2020, the region’s economic development agency, have partnered to create the Client Center for Advanced Analytics. The Center will train analysts to analyse the billions of bits of data that are produced, making the information available to companies who will use it to make better strategic decisions, improve services for their customers, analyse predictive solutions such as ways to identify fraud and gain a competitive advantage for the company and community. This can apply to cities as well.

Cities are crucibles where experimentation and market forces combine to test innovation. They are also the place we call home where we live out our dreams, raise our families and add to our culture and economy. With predictive intelligence we are able to make more informed and realistic decisions that will make life more bearable and less stressful. We will be able to have better information on possible options and outcomes. Instead of worrying about all the data that is being generated, we should think about the knowledge that we can gain as a society and the benefits of the information that we can turn into wisdom and intelligence that will help people to build better communities and better lives for themselves, their families and their neighbours.

John Jung will be presenting the keynote address at the Internet of Things Conference in Auckland, New Zealand on November 19, 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014
The Internet of Things Part 1: The Internet of Things will change Everything!

https://www.intelligentcommunity.org/clientuploads/Images/Jung-Blog-DesigningComm.gifChange is inevitable.  It is changing quickly and the drivers for it are not only structural, political, scientific and economic, it is also cultural and social. Behind it all of course is that it’s about people. So perhaps in the end, everything we are discussing here is not about technology at all, but about people. So put away your M2M’s and your Internet of Things (and even Internet of Everything) and let’s focus on people- The Internet of People.

And speaking about people, there will be a lot of them - by 2050, it is expected that 70% of the world’s population will be in urban environments. Already today over 50% of the world’s population have moved to cities bringing untenable challenges to most of these urban areas. As cities continue to grow, with some already at the breaking point, the resources necessary to manage them are not able to keep pace.

Some urban communities are looking to the promise of technology to solve their urban challenges. Through deploying smart city infrastructure and undertaking big data analytics, civic efficiencies (traffic, utilities and services) are expected to generate improved asset management that should be able to help municipalities make better decisions and help them keep pace with their budgets. By deploying sensors in these areas and addressing data management in ways, for instance, to create improved civic operations and relieve traffic congestion, the value of Internet of Things applications will be demonstrated to their citizens, with the hope that trust and confidence in these technologies will also be enhanced. However these applications tend to be vertically integrated silos usually undertaken by a single competitive vendor and their applications are usually not able to be integrated across the board in all things throughout the community.

Accordingly, the true benefit of the Internet of Things will not be possible until an open source, standardized and horizontal approach is adopted. Some refer to this period of deficiencies in interoperability among devices intended to be linked as being similar to the early days of the Internet itself. The Internet of Things needs a standard for all devices at all levels of public, private and institutional sophistication to be able to be linked with each other for the promise of the Internet of Things to be truly valuable. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance are working toward this standard but the general public and most communities do not seem to be even at the threshold of this understanding.  What is promising is that groups like IPSO Alliance are focusing on activities such as publishing its “Smart Objects Guideline” to provide a basis for interoperability across devices connected to the Internet of Things.

Despite general public unawareness in most parts of the world, this has become noticeable by the Chinese.  Given the challenges of industrial collaboration in an era of heavy competition, even among Chinese companies, and recognizing the benefits from the evolution of the Internet of Things, the Beijing Municipal Government, through its Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology and the Zhongguancun Science Park, along with 40 collaborative upstream and downstream institutions in the networking industry, co-launched the “Zhongguancun Technological Innovation Strategic Alliance of Networking Industry” in November 2013. This Alliance established an application-oriented networking industry centre with industry, technology and innovation as its focus. The alliance members are undertaking a dozen demonstration projects aimed at cultivating industrial leading enterprises and products with national industrial standards, potentially making Zhongguancun China’s national standard for the Internet of Things. 

Greater public awareness, education and demonstrations all around the world involving all sectors of society are needed in order to embrace these opportunities. This is becoming more important as more devices are being connected to one another. Today, according to Shodan, a search engine for The Internet of Things, over 15 billion things are connected with one another including computers with mobile devices, medical sensors, and industrial and commercial machines. However, 85% of things today are left unconnected.  It is expected that 50 billion things will be connected by 2020. The drivers for these will be what people will be demanding and the information derived from the data being analyzed now. For instance, there will likely be substantial growth as a result of more connected healthcare, a world of wearable technologies, connected cars and ever-more connected things that become commonplace to service people and their needs.

An example of a company already connecting its devices to other devices and end users is Coca Cola. Its internet-connected “Freestyle” machines are becoming ubiquitous in theaters, hip burger restaurants and chains such as Burger King, tracking people’s preferences for drinks and predetermining restocking of machines without sending a truck first.  I used this “Internet of Sodas” recently and was offered the ability to try one of over 100 drink combinations at the single machine. In the process Coca-Cola has secured 16 million unique network identifiers from IEEE, which manages the “media access control address (MAC) registration” for these devices. MAC addresses, which are essentially virtual serial numbers, are imbedded in the physical devices as unique identifiers and are different from an IP address. While an IP address can change from coffee shop to airport lounge, the identifier of a MAC address for a device will never change even if the device moves from place to place.

Wearable technologies from the potential of Google’s Glass to the renewed watch craze that pits Pebble against Sony’s smart bands and Samsung’s smart gloves, among others, are just the tip of the iceberg for moving the Internet of Things from its machine-to-machine dominance to everyday applications that people will want and begin to expect. They inform, measure, motivate and even warn their end-users in everything that interests people in their everyday lives. Just as end-users have come to expect a wow-factor and sea-change in Apple’s every announcement of new innovations, so will citizens come to demand and expect these types of changes in everything that they do in their cities, from improved traffic patterns to conveniences in paying their utility bills as well as ensuring our safety and security.

There are many other examples:  

“The Internet of Cows”: digitally- tagged cows which are able to be continuously screened prior to milking for any diseases or other health issues that might taint the milk. They can also be directed to a secure area for medical assistance through these technologies. With sufficient data from these cows, researchers and veterinarians are able to undertake predictive medical treatments for them, avoiding issues before they start.

“The Internet of Schoolchildren”: all schoolchildren in Taipei are provided smartcards which can be used for transportation and other basic expenditures but which also send a text message to the parents that their child has entered or left their school. Through data gained over a long period of time and properly analyzed, administrators are able to determine well in advance the predictive behaviours of these children and undertake remedial measures to improve their attendance, ensure their safety and security and other measures.

“The Internet of Young Drivers”: one day your connected and automated “driverless” car in the garage will be accessed by your young driver only after certain criteria has been met, such as gaining your permission!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Can You Build an Economy and Save a Life at the Same Time?

In the Intelligent Community of San Francisco (Smart21 of 2007), about 3,000 people work in high-tech manufacturing. The city may be obsessed by software these days, but advanced manufacturing generates about $1 billion in direct and indirect revenue for the local economy.


It also saved a man’s life.

His name is Marc Roth.  According to a wonderful article by Jason Shueh in GovTech, Marc was a successful entrepreneur in Las Vegas, where his patented touchscreen technology was used to process taxi fares.  Beginning in 2008, however, the financial crisis ran through Las Vegas like a river in flood and took the travel industry – his customers – with it. 

In 2010, Marc decided to repair his fortunes by moving to San Francisco.  He was sure of landing a good software engineering job earning six figures, and his wife and children would then be able to follow him there. 

Instead, he wound up living in his car.  Entrepreneurship turns out not always to be a good thing on a resume.  Potential employers believed that he would stick around only long enough to line up his next business opportunity.

He worked in a pizza restaurant until nerve damage from long hours on his feet made it impossible for him to do the job, or most other manual labor.  One day, his car was robbed and all his possessions stolen.  That night, in mental and emotional agony, he checked into a homeless shelter.  It felt like the end of the road and he contemplated suicide.  But day after day, he decided to put it off for one more sunrise.    

On one of those dark days, he found an advertising flyer in a trash can that offered a one-month membership at something called the TechShop.  Mark did not know it then but it is the hub of San Francisco’s Maker Movement, which supports community-driven manufacturing design and production. Marc’s flyer got him access to a facility with more than a million dollars in prototyping equipment. 

Marc took classes, mastered the equipment, and soon found himself being hired by young entrepreneurs to help with their prototype projects.  Then TechShop offered him a teaching position.  Months later, a friend, whom he had met at Techshop, paid for him to move into a “hacker hostel” for tech entrepreneurs.  Shortly afterward, an investor put money into SF Laser, a laser cutting and etching company that Roth had founded.  Eighteen months after he first checked into the homeless shelter, Marc was finally able to bring his family to San Francisco. 

Innovation is the lifeblood of the modern economy.  Intelligent Communities pursue innovation through a triangular relationship between business, government and such institutions as universities and hospitals.  (See our book Brain Gain for more.)  The Innovation Triangle helps keep the economic benefits of innovation local, and creates a culture that engages the entire community in positive change.  Maker spaces like TechShop often plan a vital part.

But sometimes, economic lifeblood turns out to be no different than the blood running through a man or woman’s veins.  Marc Roth owes his life to TechShop – and in gratitude, he founded a nonprofit called the Learning Shelter, which teaches trades to people as homeless as he once was. San Francisco has gained something even more valuable than another startup – a citizen determined to leave the city better than he found it. 

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