January 13, 2015
According to a report from Reuters, foreign competition in the London commercial property market is forcing local investors to invest in regional cities to tap rising rents there, with many making purchases privately to avoid auctions or even building office blocks from scratch. Commercial property in London has become a popular safe haven for investors from places such as Russia, China and southern Europe as a result of the financial crisis, and office prices have bounced back strongly from the lows. From a $4 billion battle for control of the Canary Wharf financial district to the creation of the capital’s tallest building, The Shard, thanks to oil money from the Gulf, many of London’s landmarks have had a helpful overseas financing hand.
January 13, 2015
Leeds is the latest UK city to announce the roll-out of free city-wide Wi-Fi. Although full details are yet to be confirmed, the contract with telecommunications firm aql will initially target areas of Leeds with poor levels of connectivity. Leeds City Council has already installed free Wi-Fi in over 100 council buildings including libraries, museums and leisure centres as part of the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme which was announced in 2012 to invest £100 million in the provision of ultrafast broadband in ten of the country’s major cities. In November of last year, Derry also announced the rollout of city-wide Wi-Fi as part of a plan to transform the local economy.
December 29, 2014
The tap roots of the digital economy will not spread beneath the concrete of Tech City and other urban enclaves, but in the fertile soil of the UK countryside. That is the finding of a new briefing document from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which claims that rural areas are set to overtake towns and cities as the main driver of Britain’s digital economy. As a result of improvements in the country’s digital infrastructure and transport links as well as a changing relationship between firms, employees and contractors, there are now more people moving to the countryside from towns and cities than those moving in the opposite direction. The briefing suggests that by 2025, the rural economy will be worth an additional £35 billion and the productivity of rural areas could outstrip urban areas for the first time since the industrial revolution.
December 22, 2014
According to a new report, the global market for smart cities will grow by nearly a factor of three from $411.31 billion in 2014 to $1,135 billion by 2019. The not so snappily titled report, “Smart Cities Market by Smart Home, Intelligent Building Automation, Energy Management, Smart Healthcare, Smart Education, Smart Water, Smart Transportation, Smart Security, & by Services – Worldwide Market Forecasts and Analysis (2014 – 2019)”, has been published by MarketsandMarkets, and claims to define and segment smart cities into various sub-segments of technologies, solutions, services and regions with in-depth analysis and forecasting of revenues. The authors also claim that the report identifies drivers and restraints of this market with insights on trends, opportunities, and challenges.
December 11, 2014
City workers have been proven to ‘work hard and play hard’ more than those in other areas of Greater London, according to an extensive study of the capital’s office workers. Those in the Square Mile have the longest hours (45.3), spend most nights out drinking (two) and as a consequence suffer from the highest number of hangovers on a weekly basis. The findings are part of a research project by Avanta Serviced Office Group, to reveal the contrasting habits, characteristics and lifestyles of those working in different areas. The study questioned over 1,500 office workers across the city and found: City of London workers are most likely to ‘work hard and play hard’, often snoozing in the workplace at lunchtime to catch up on their sleep; weary West Enders are out-shopped by workers in the City; Islington is the cycling and social media capital of London; and Croydon has the most office romances.
November 26, 2014
Researchers Frost & Sullivan are promoting a study of the world’s smart cities which predicts that the global market will be valued at US$1.565 trillion by 2020. The report also claims that there will be a minimum of 26 smart cities worldwide by 2025 with more than half in Europe and North America. By 2025, nearly three fifths of the world’s population, or 4.6 billion people, will live in an urban setting and in developed regions, this figure could run to over 80 percent. This new era of urbanisation will force planners to radically rethink how they create cities, develop digital infrastructure and provide services to residents in a sustainable manner across a range of key parameters. The report defines smart cities as those built around ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ solutions and technology that lead to the adoption of at least 5 of 8 key parameters—energy, building, mobility, healthcare, infrastructure, technology, governance and education, and citizen.
November 24, 2014
The City of Derry in Northern Ireland has announced that it is to introduce free Wi-Fi in all public places. The local council is to work with local business owners to introduce the programme in conjunction with the national Super Connected Cities scheme funded by the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Urban Broadband Fund. Full rollout of the programme is expected by the first half of next year and will be accessible to anybody who registers for unlimited access to the city’s network. The initiative claims that it ‘is geared towards increasing digital engagement and energising cultural and economic activity within the city. The network will be available for free public use, with the benefits of being easy to connect, filtered for user protection and scalable for future expansion.’ Derry is Northern Ireland’s second largest city and has in recent years focused inward investment on the digital sector. Last week, we reported on how the Italian Government is looking to offer free Wi-Fi in all public places across the country.
November 24, 2014
A new report published by engineering and design consultancy Arup and University College London claims that the pioneers of the smart cities movement need to take a more strategic approach to ensure that their spending on IT infrastructure is effective in meeting their objectives. The report Delivering the Smart City: Governing Cities in the Digital Age is based on research of eight cities including London and Bristol in the UK alongside a number of other prominent global cities such as Chicago, Barcelona, Stockholm and Hong Kong. The report found that the cities spend an average of 6 percent of their expenditure on IT services and technology, which amounts to approximately £23 million per city across the study and is roughly equivalent to the amount budgeted in the financial services sector worldwide. While the authors welcome this as a sign that tech spending is taken seriously, they also claim that more could be done to target this spending effectively and tailored to the specific needs of each city depending on factors such as its ‘ecosystem’, culture and governance. It believes that the lessons from this are appropriate to all cities, not just those already pursuing a smart agenda.
November 21, 2014
Day two of Worktech London and affirmation that far from dying, as so many headline writers would have us believe, the office is merely entering a new phase. The underlying theme of Worktech continues to be how we find new ways of weaving together the strands of presence and connectedness formed by cities, buildings and technology. Worktech is a constant reminder that while our world may be shaped by algorithms, we still need each other and need to be with other people at least some of the time. The event is admirably hosted by long time collaborator and MC Jeremy Myerson whose knowledge and donnish charm holds things together while the real Don, founder Philip Ross, beams from the sidelines. It is now de rigeur for such events to have a poet in residence and this year’s was Matt Harvey who summed things up at the end of the day with reference to Worktech’s longstanding idea of jellybean working but who popped up in between sessions with lyrical summations including one that showed some real spunk (you had to be there).
November 17, 2014
The Italian government is considering taking a drastic step to increase the number of publicly accessible WiFi hotspots across the country. As it seeks to close the broadband deficit from which it suffers compared to other European countries, a new bill has been proposed that would make it compulsory for almost every business to provide a hotspot. Those supporting the new law see it as a way of dragging the country up to some sort of par with other EU nations. At the moment Italy has just 50,000 hotpots according to WiFi network provider iPass, compared to 13 million in France and nearly 10 million in the UK. The new law has cross party backing and would oblige all businesses occupying at least 100 square metres and employing more than two people to not only create a WiFi connection but to allow the public to access it for free without a username or password. The new law will not only cover offices, bars and restaurants but also taxis and trains. While concerns have been raised about the proposed law’s necessity and enforcement the Italian parliament will debate it in earnest in the New Year.
November 11, 2014
As we prepare the upcoming issue of Work&Place (don’t forget to subscribe on our homepage), a reminder that the September issue of Work&Place is available to download or view as a PDF or now in an online edition. Amongst this issue’s highlights are: Ian Ellison’s retrospective of last Summer’s Workplace Strategy Summit; Jim Ware offers up a case study of workplace transformation at NEF from the perspective of the firm’s CEO; Agustin Chavez and Laurie Aznavoorian consider how the workplace can help firms to manage knowledge; David Karpook meanwhile characterises the role of the facilities manager as akin to that of a stage manager; Wim Pullen explores the multi-generational workplace using empirical evidence; Erik Jaspers looks at how workers are colonising the world’s cities; Pawel Lenart and Dominika Kowalska report on how one specific country – Poland – has seen a transformation in the way it creates and uses workplaces over the past twenty years; and, on related themes Nancy Sanquist explains how IFMA is driving the agenda on urban FM and Charles Marks looks at how the UK’s regions are looking to capitalise on the Smart Cities movement.
November 10, 2014
A new study by videoconferencing firm Atomico shows that the European centre for billion dollar technology start ups in Europe is Stockholm, followed by London and Berlin. The interactive visualisation from the survey shows that Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley as a successful founding location for successful Internet businesses with a current market valuation of over $1 billion founded since 2003. Silicon Valley remains in a completely different league to locations on the rest of the planet with 53 startups, followed by Beijing with 17, New York with seven and Stockholm with five. London, meanwhile, has only three tech start up businesses in the £1 billion category despite its reputation as a hotbed of tech entrepreneurialism, the same number as Berlin. According to the report, Stockholm’s ability to foster successful tech startups is even more impressive based on its population of around one million, which makes it the second most prolific per capita location worldwide,with 6.3 billion-dollar companies per million people compared to Silicon Valley with 6.9.