According to US-based industry association, the Smart Cities Council, a “smart city” gathers data from smart devices and sensors embedded in its roadways, power grids, buildings and other assets, shares that data via a communications system and which generates valuable information and digitally enhanced services using smart software. With digital technology embedded across all municipal functions, the end goal of smart city initiatives is to improve the city’s efficiency, connectivity and environment. As with any digital transformation initiative, there are likely to be significant improvements to the ways in which people live and work.
One of the most profound changes we expect is the adoption of more agile working practices; people will be empowered to work wherever they choose, at times that fit their lifestyle and business needs. There has been a growth in “grey space” between the home and the office, especially as more small businesses and start-ups opt into collaborative, co-working spaces and technology empowers distributed and remote workforces.
Initiatives like the UK’s Super Connected Cities program, which is rolling out free Wi-Fi in British cities, blur the boundaries between offices and public spaces.
It's not surprising that there has been a shift towards employees wanting more dynamic working environments that encourage collaboration, especially when you factor in advances in technologies as the Cloud, virtual desktops and Big Data.
In addition to environmental benefits such as optimized lighting, heating and HVAC systems, the sensors within “smart buildings” - and the analysis of the data they generate - allow for more effective management of desk allocation and meeting room scheduling.
By extension, the wealth of data generated by the sensors within a smart city, and the connectivity made available both within office buildings and surrounding urban spaces, will allow for greater opportunities for agile working, in which employees can work at a time, and in a place, that best suits them and their business.