Report projects big smart tech RoI for east London

Study by Siemens and Arup points to significant returns on investment in energy, transport and built environment

Investments in smart technology could provide benefits worth hundreds of millions of pounds to a large area in east London over the coming decades, according to a recently published report.

The projections come from The Business Case for Smart Cities: London, one of a series of studies by German industrial giant Siemens – a member of the Smart London board – and professional services firm Arup.

East London over Olympic Village aerial viewThe report places an emphasis on the ‘Arc of Opportunity’, an area in the east of the city that was previously docks and industrial land and is now under redevelopment. This provides scope for the installation of smart technologies and considerable returns in the energy, transport and built environment sectors.

On the energy front, it says there are significant opportunities for deploying smart grids and streetlights in the area, with the latter being deployable in relatively quick time.

It estimates that an initial investment of €46 (£42) million over four years would pay for itself in 11 years, and over 35 years produce annual direct benefits of €11 (£10) million and total benefits of €26 (£24) million. The largest share of the benefits would come from people using less energy, the emergence of new energy service delivery models and carbon reduction.

Sensors and data

Efforts to develop the transport infrastructure are likely to involve the increased use of operational sensors to improve parking and the management of assets, along with sharing real time and predicted data, more way-finding mobile applications and the integration of public transport information with that of car clubs.

The report estimates that a €12 (£11) million investment over four years would pay back in seven, produce cumulative benefits of €251 (£228) million over 35 years and annual benefits of €17 (£15) million by the end of the period.

In the case of the built environment, there could be relatively quick wins – within 10 years – from energy management systems in domestic and commercial buildings, and solar energy generation.

An investment in these and other technologies of €17 (£15) million would provide a payback in seven years. A total capital investment of €53 (£48) million would provide a cumulative net direct benefit of €367 (£334) million and annual benefits – direct and indirect – of €24 (£22) million after 35 years.

The report says the next steps for London should include more integration of the advanced systems that are already in place for managing transport, preparing the energy grid for decentralised local generation by optimising smart controls, and improving high speed broadband connectivity.

Broadband measures

Mayor Sadiq Khan has recently taken steps aimed at improving the availability of high speed broadband in areas where connectivity is slow or unreliable.

Writing in the report’s foreword, London’s Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal says: “We have the city data that enables smart technology businesses to grow. So do businesses that provide services to Londoners, from utilities to mobile phone operators.

“Sharing of this data with our entrepreneurs is their lifeblood. It takes urban transformation from a proof of concept to maturity. We want to work with enterprise to co-produce new business models for the benefit of City Hall, London’s town halls, and cities around the world.

“We are still at an early stage, but it feels like we are accelerating quickly.”

Image by Chris Hoare, CC BY 2.0 through flickr