Smarter journeys through intelligent assets


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that is used to describe the exchange information between physical objects and their users via Bluetooth and app enabled devices. Cited as the next industrial revolution, the IoT combines live data with Architecture, Engineering and construction to enable new innovation in the built environment. Through the collection and analysis of existing data, local authorities have the real-time information required to improve city services and systems, enabling the discovery of new connections between the city and its users, and opening new platforms for transport and intelligent mobility.

The UK government is actively supporting this growth area with a recent article on TechCrunch announcing the Innovate UK competition to fund up to £10million to IoT solutions that address urban problems. The GLA and London City Hall have also been working towards the smart cities goal with the London Smart Cities Platform Of the milestones mentioned in this report, we are excited to read that all of London Undergrounds assets will be digitally recorded in 3-D by 2020. In parallel with the Network Rail 2020 vision to digitise the rail network we will soon start to see new opportunities for improved mobility, efficiency and increased capacity.

Londoners are early adopters, as shown by its citizens embracing shared transport systems such as Bromptonhire, Autonomous vehicles and Drivenow. With an increase in digital assets, app developers and innovators will have increased access to data, supporting the IoT to improve congestion, reduce environmental impact, and turn issues related to the expanding population growth into positive solutions.

Awareness of how our cities function will ultimately encourage increased interaction with our surroundings. As designers, we believe it is the merging of physical product with advanced digital systems that is vital to the success of creating smarter communities and districts that can respond on a human centric level. A recent project by the studio, the Loci Street Furniture Range for Marshalls, is an example of how intelligent assets are aiding smarter journeys. The Loci range has been developed to incorporate intelligent sensors, providing enhanced communication to reduced mobility users. This system uses low power consuming Bluetooth technology within the street furniture to communicate with the users mobile device, providing assistance on their journey and empowering independent navigation.

Loci bench

This bluetooth smart is the same technology being used by Google in their latest open source BLE beacons. The open source platform is encouraging developers to build more precise location based services, making beacons more useful when a mobile app is not available.

We are on the fringe of a new industrial revolution and it is an exciting time for UK transport as it leads the way in the smart cities movement. This weekend the AEC Hackathon comes to London, bringing together built environment experts, planners, architects, BIM, IoT and app developers to create new solutions for the future of smart cities and we can’t wait to see the outcome!