A smart community is about more than technology
8 May 2021

A smart community is about more than technology

While technology is without a doubt an integral part of what goes into creating smart communities, a truly smart community is defined by much more.

Most conversations on smart living automatically lead to discussions on the latest gadgets available in the market, which then leads to talk about the investments involved and, hence, how it is only meant for the rich and affluent. The notion stems from a popular misconception that building smart communities is just about technological solutions. This could not be further from the truth.

I believe that no single solution can improve quality of life in isolation – they must be integrated in a way that delivers real value for residents. For example, having the latest security cameras is not going to make a difference if they cannot distinguish between residents and outsiders. In the same way, smart meters can provide raw data on utility consumption, but this will only prove useful if it is easily accessible and presented in a manner that can be understood. This is why technology forms just one pillar of an overall approach towards building smart communities. Environment, planning and architecture and social innovation are all equally important.

So, what constitutes a smart community?

I would define a smart community as an interconnected network of residents, businesses and service organisations who leverage the smart use of technologies for economic growth, social benefits and environmental sustainability. Such communities exist in sustainable and self-sufficient environments that encourage social interaction and are resilient in the face of increasing pressures.

To create a truly smart community, a people-first approach needs to be integrated right from the planning and design phase. Maintaining and improving liveability for residents should be the number one priority. There are many design elements that can be included to make a community more inclusive. For example, something as simple as incorporating access ramps for the differently-abled into the middle of paths instead of at the sides can have a positive impact. Similarly, facilities like carpooling and a Library of Things can make a community more inclusive and increase quality of life with minimal investment required.

In India, there are currently various companies offering different solutions. These include popular solutions like gate management, smart metering, water management and so on. However, the efficacy of these products is somewhat diminished because the solutions are installed in silos – hence it is imperative to understand residents’ needs and deliver integrated solutions that have a concrete positive impact.  For example, considering smartphones are the most used device by the majority of the population, we can provide residents access to all community services through an easily accessible app.

Another issue in many communities is that residents don’t know who to turn to for assistance when issues arise. This is where the Community Manager comes in. They can help solve issues by being proactively resourceful, providing the necessary help or connecting residents to those within the community itself who can help. 

A smart community is much more than its gadgets – it is inclusive, accessible and safe for all. 

Mukund Deogaonkar
Director
Planet Idea India

New smart solution in Quartiere Giardino: E-Vai electric car-sharing
7 April 2021

New smart solution in Quartiere Giardino: E-Vai electric car-sharing

Residents of Quartiere Giardino can now take advantage of a new sustainable service: electric car-sharing by E-Vai. E-Vai’s shared mobility system has a low environmental impact and helps eliminate the cost of owning a private car for residents.

Quartiere Giardino, a residential complex on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, is home to 5,000 residents whose lives have been revitalised through the integration of digital, environmental and social smart solutions. To date, 20 smart solutions have been integrated into the project, including a Community Manager, Library of Things, shared community spaces, bookcrossing services and our proprietary digital platform, the Planet App. 

The smart district now has its own fully electric car to be shared among residents. In collaboration with E-Vai, we are offering the community a practical and cost-effective mobility solution through the Planet App. Electric cars are also far more sustainable than fossil-fuelled vehicles, emitting up to 55% less CO than a petrol car and up to 40% less than a diesel vehicle. 

We are featuring a new promotion in the promo section of the Planet App. Until 31st July 2021, residents are being offered two hours of free travel on their first use of the vehicle, as well as a 30% discount on subsequent trips.

“At Planet Smart City we believe that sharing is the key to transforming the communities we live in. By sharing, we save money on a daily basis and feel part of something bigger, creating relationships with the people around us,” says Ilaria Rapaccini, Quartiere Giardino’s Community Manager.

Planet Smart City has been working on the urban regeneration project together with Palladium Group, an international leader in the real estate market, since 2018.

Quartiere Giardino residents offered discounted home sanitation services
5 February 2021

Quartiere Giardino residents offered discounted home sanitation services

As part of continued efforts to provide useful solutions and services for residents of our neighbourhoods, we have signed an agreement with Lowrance and Simrad in Italy.

The company is an authorised distributor of Logysan – a device that uses germicidal UV-C that renders bacteria and viruses inactive in just a few minutes.

Thanks to the partnership, Planet App users living in Quartiere Giardino in Milan, Italy, will benefit from a 10% discount towards ‘on-call’ sanitisation services that protect their homes against Covid-19.

Depending on their individual needs, residents will be able to decide whether to sanitise one or more rooms. Unlike solutions containing “ozone”, a gas found in some air cleaners, UV-C rays do not trigger harmful oxidation processes and are not dangerous to humans. 

“We are pleased to be able to offer our communities smart solutions that meet their changing needs. Our goal is to improve quality of life,” says Elena Fabris, our Community Manager.

Adopting a co-design process to empower communities
20 January 2021

Adopting a co-design process to empower communities

At Planet Smart City, we strive to address the needs of residents by actively involving them in the development of our neighbourhoods. To achieve our goal of creating sustainable, socially inclusive and technologically connected smart projects, we have adopted a co-design process. 

Co-design is an innovative approach that allows participants to exchange views, explore ideas, and develop solutions that meet local needs. Throughout the design development process – from identifying requirements and project guidelines, to generating ideas and creating a concept, product or service – residents are encouraged to take part in workshops held by our Community Managers.

Co-designing digital community notice boards 

In Quartiere Giardino and Mirafiori Sud in Italy, our Community Managers are supporting residents in the co-design of a digital community notice board for implementation in our smart neighbourhoods. We organised two workshops between 23rd November and 2nd December, where 17 residents from two different regions, Piedmont and Lombardy, came together. 

Through a shared digital tool, participants exchanged questions and ideas to collaboratively define how a notice board could meet their needs. Functionalities and features that would be practical and useful for everyone were discussed, and the sessions created a stimulating atmosphere between the two communities. 

Facilitating dialogue between residents

Through our workshops, residents expressed a desire to build relationships with others in their community. We identified opportunities for socialising as a fundamental element for activating a path of trust between neighbours and meeting the needs of local people. 

We also observed a willingness to replace traditional meeting places, such as squares or courtyards, with digital social tools – provided they are simple, immediate, intuitive, fun and discreet. Thanks to our skilled Community Managers, we sped up the discovery process and quickly determined the feasibility of ideas.

Imma Di Santo, our Community Manager in Mirafiori Sud, says: “It is important to build innovation processes starting from communities, listening to their points of view, and building collective and connective intelligence in this way. There are no smart solutions without smart communities.”

The co-design process for implementing digital community notice boards is currently in place in Italy. We plan to roll out the methodology to projects in other countries in the future.

Smart City Aquiraz: houses designed to make dreams come true
21 December 2020

Smart City Aquiraz: houses designed to make dreams come true

Our Co-founder and Brazil CEO, Susanna Marchionni, explores how Planet’s high-quality affordable development, Smart City Aquiraz, is designed and built to make dreams come true.

One of the greatest dreams for anyone is to own their own home a place for the family to feel safe and happy. At Planet, we do more than just build affordable houses. Our mission is to create high-quality neighbourhoods and thriving communities where residents have everything they need to lead fuller, more integrated and happier lives.

Many people believe that a beautiful house has to be expensive, but this is not the case. Our challenge is to prove that with good taste, planning and imagination, you can have a fantastic house without spending too much money.

Façade of the Artemis house in Smart City Aquiraz

Façade of the Artemis house in Smart City Aquiraz

All of the houses we build in Brazil can be bought as part of the Minha Casa Minha Vida (‘My Home My Life’) programme. Not only are they within most people’s reach, they are beautiful, innovative, well planned and well built. They are also smart, with high-quality infrastructure, services and technology that enriches lives.

Our vision is that people do not simply buy houses, they buy all the services around them. Those who purchase a Planet home benefit from a package of smart solutions such as shared kitchens, cinemas, libraries, coworking spaces, outdoor gyms and urban gardens – all free and open to everyone.

House models in Smart City Aquiraz

At Smart City Aquiraz in Brazil, everything we have chosen for the design of each home has personality and conveys a message. Named after goddesses of mythology, the three types of houses we are launching are heavily influenced by concepts of art and culture.

Living area in our Iris house at Smart City Aquiraz

Living area in our Iris house at Smart City Aquiraz

Our Iris houses are inspired by the Rainbow Goddess who unites the earth and the sky. Each is 53.37 square metres in size and has two bedrooms and a bathroom. 

We then have our Luna houses, which refers to the Goddess of the Moon. These houses are set across 65.08 square metres and have three bedrooms, one of them with an en-suite, and two bathrooms. 

We also have Artemis, in honour of the Goddess of Wildlife and Hunting, which is 58.45 square metres in size and features two bedrooms, one with an en-suite, and two bathrooms. All models also have a living room, kitchen, service area and balcony.

The idea is to have different types of houses that potential residents can choose from. For example, our Iris house is more compact, with bold and modern architecture. The decoration and the garden are Japanese-inspired. Then we have a totally different house, Luna, which is more classic and romantic, with a garden inspired by a secret Renaissance garden. We also have the Artemis house, which has a modern finish with flowers and fashionable colours.

Living area in our Artemis house at Smart City Aquiraz

Living area in our Artemis house at Smart City Aquiraz

We use design features such as mirrors, wallpapers and contrasting colours to create bold, enchanting looks. Low-cost techniques are used for visual effects, such as the stencil we have used to decorate the bamboo in the garden of the Iris house. Our concept is to offer options that can be easily reproduced by buyers.

Everything that is seen in the decorated houses is available in our digital application, the Planet App. People can see where we buy the items and how much they cost. If it’s something we do internally, they can watch the videos or manuals on how to do it. 

To complete the sensory experience, we perfume each house with a different scent. Ultimately, we want everyone who visits to feel that our houses are places they want to relax, spend time with their family in and to call home.

Susanna Marchionni
Co-founder and Brazil CEO
Planet Smart City

Susanna Marchionni is Brazil CEO and co-founded the company in 2015 alongside Global CEO Giovanni Savio. She has 25 years of experience in the real estate market and is the driving force in Brazil, where she is responsible for the company’s expansion.

Planet and AI Engineering: partnership fosters innovation
14 December 2020

Planet and AI Engineering: partnership fosters innovation

To be competitive and address new market needs, real estate operators must be able to innovate, anticipating new trends. IoT, digital platforms, big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, smart grids, building information modelling and materials science are new challenges that represent great opportunities.

We have strengthened our ability to harness such opportunities thanks to a new partnership with AI Engineering (AI), an engineering and design company based in Turin, Italy. Since the 1970s, AI has secured great experience both in Italy and internationally and has intervened in various sectors, offering technical assistance in the design, planning and implementation of complex and innovative works for both public and private clients. Its approach utilises the most advanced technologies in the design field and is increasingly focused on sustainability.

The partnership consolidates the innovative approach of the world-first Competence Centre in two main areas. On the one hand, AI Engineering supports Planet in the design of the infrastructure for its real estate projects, starting with Smart City Bahia, the fourth smart city in Brazil to be launched in 2021. On the other hand, the synergy contributes to the development of a Competence Centre that innovates in real estate, combining AI’s legacy with Planet’s smart city research and innovation.

A new website illustrating the value proposition of the proptech partnership has recently gone online. The aim is for Planet and AI to become a reference in Italy as a company that supports large real estate developers in the integration of innovations and measures to increase resilience.

Find out more on the dedicated website.

Harnessing the power of the Internet of Things in affordable housing
24 November 2020

Harnessing the power of the Internet of Things in affordable housing

Image: Ermerson and Lumara Viana with their two daughters and niece in Smart City Laguna

Planet Smart City is offering IoT automation solutions to residents living in one of its affordable developments in Brazil. Testing is underway and will provide data and insights so the systems can be rolled out in other projects in the country, as well as in India and across the globe. 

At the world’s first affordable smart city, Smart City Laguna in Ceará, Brazil, a Citizen Lab has been set up and families are being invited to test IoT automation systems within their homes. This user-focused strategy empowers our residents to guide us on the solutions that are most useful to them. 

Furthermore, the operation will generate valuable feedback, data and insights that will be useful in future decision-making and for rolling out the systems in other projects globally.

In contrast with most traditional real estate operators, harnessing the power of technology to enhance our affordable housing developments is a priority for Planet. We are already making tracks towards achieving our mission to improve lives by making IoT solutions accessible within affordable housing. 

Residents test IoT home automation systems

IoT solutions have already been installed in the home of one Laguna family, Ermerson and Lumara Viana, who moved into the smart city in February 2020 along with their two daughters. They are currently experimenting with a variety of systems which are all remotely controlled via mobile application. 

Smart lighting is being tested in the family’s living room, master bedroom and kitchen, allowing them to turn the lights on and off remotely. Feedback has already been received, confirming that they find it very useful for simulating presence while they are away and for turning lights off if they had been left on by accident saving on electricity bills. 

With security a major focus in Brazil, a Wi-Fi camera has been set up for added safety inside the Viana’s living room, together with security sensors on doors and windows and an alarm. The system has made the family feel much more secure since they can monitor their home when they are away. 

Other IoT systems such as smart plugs have been deployed, allowing residents to remotely control appliances via their mobile phone and also to monitor their electrical energy consumption. The next items to be sent for testing include a smoke detector and gas detector. “It’s very nice to have the house fully automated and be able to control electronic devices. I’m going to keep installing new equipment to leave my house smarter,” says Ermerson, Laguna resident, tech enthusiastic, robotics professor and YouTuber.

At the time of writing, a second Laguna household, Didier Dantas and Tonny Uchoa, have joined our Citizen Lab and commenced test deployments of home automation solutions. At this early stage in the programme, we are already receiving positive feedback particularly on the security benefits of the Wi-Fi camera and security sensors.  

Laguna Smart City household
Tonny Uchoa (pictured) moved to Smart City Laguna with Didier Dantas in July 2019

 

Our residents are also engaging well in the co-design process and have suggested a number of interesting scenarios where IoT solutions could provide particular benefits. We are very excited about the bi-directional advantages of this co-design process, where residents of our affordable smart city are given a voice and enabled to participate in the process of defining smart solutions for their region, while we also benefit from their insights as we refine our product offerings.

IoT automation in communal areas

A number of communal automation projects are underway in Smart City Laguna. At the Library of Things, where residents can borrow everyday household items such as ladders and power drills, a smart door lock and Wi-Fi camera have been put in place. 

Previously, residents would book items on the Planet App before going to the smart city’s reception to pick the items up. A Planet employee would then go to the Library of Things, collect the requested items and carry them back to hand over. 

Thanks to the newly-installed smart door lock, residents with a confirmed item booking can now enter the Library of Things themselves and pick up their items directly. As they do so, staff can observe the Wi-Fi camera to make sure the correct items are obtained, while using a two-way audio link to provide guidance if needed. This system is currently in the testing phase and the plan is to roll it out to other projects in Brazil in due course.

Another solution under development for installation in Laguna is an electronically controlled smart lock for the gate of the football pitch. This will enable residents to receive a QR code when booking the pitch that can then be held against the smart lock to unlock the gate. Naturally, our IoT solutions are being integrated with the Planet App, allowing residents to use their smartphones to book the facilities and unlock the gate.

At Laguna’s communal kitchen, a gas leak detector will be implemented to ensure the safety of residents at all times. The system will automatically cut off the gas via a remote-controlled smart valve in the event of a leak, protecting residents and the environment.

What is the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things (IoT) is the term given to the various physical devices that are connected to the internet and which collect and share data. Bringing different objects together and adding sensors facilitates real-time communication. Thanks to IoT, almost anything has the potential to be smart. 

Such technology can bring huge benefits to housing providers and residents alike. The deployment of IoT devices could lead to large-scale behavioural changes and generate a wealth of aggregated data for analysis, predictive forecasting and business planning.

With digital transformation having accelerated recently, the way we live our lives is rapidly changing on an exponential basis. Just as technology impacts the daily lives of ordinary people in both developed and developing countries, it has also impacted the housing sector. 

Housing providers have become increasingly interested in the power of technology to overcome not only challenges such as sustainable energy consumption but in enabling relationships with residents to be more digitally-led, strategic and practical than ever before. 

At Planet Smart City, we recognise the potential impact of harnessing technology to make neighbourhoods smarter and improve residents’ quality of life. Utilising digital tools to make lives easier, more reliable, cost-effective and safer has been a significant focus for us since inception. 

Today, with the help of the Internet of Things, we are turning our vision into reality. We are excited to extend our unique approach to more communities so we can impact even more lives in the years to come.

Stephen Dunphy
Global Head of IoT 

With a degree in electronic engineering and industrial automation, Stephen has over 25 years of experience leading international teams driving smart city and big data initiatives. At Planet Smart City, he is in charge of the global IoT strategy.

Planet App facilitates access to  health services
3 November 2020

Planet App facilitates access to health services

We have signed an agreement with Smart Clinic, part of San Donato Group – Italy’s first private hospital and a symbol of healthcare excellence in both clinical activity and scientific research.

Thanks to the agreement, Planet App users in Quartiere Giardino – our smart district in Milan, Italy – can take advantage of special discounts on services offered by the clinic.

The initiative provides a simpler and smarter way to approach the care and prevention needs of local people, who can visit clinics and receive examinations safely and without long waits. Located in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, Smart Clinics cover four areas of expertise: health and wellness, movement and balance, beauty and wellness, and children and teenagers.

APP Gruppo San Donato

In addition to providing specialist health services in easily accessible areas of the city, the clinics have extended opening hours, offering maximum flexibility to patients seeking high-quality preventive medicine and treatments.

“Our vision is to offer relevant services and products to our residents so they can improve their quality of life and save money. We are extremely happy with this agreement. Our skilled Community Managers are constantly listening to our residents to understand their needs and desires and we hope to expand our portfolio of services soon,” explains Alan Marcus, Chief Digital Strategy Officer of Planet Smart City.

Last week to vote for the winner of the Digital Illustration course at Smart City Laguna
21 September 2020

Last week to vote for the winner of the Digital Illustration course at Smart City Laguna

A group of young residents from Smart City Laguna and the wider community recently completed our free Digital Illustration course, enhancing their employment prospects and giving them the opportunity to generate income through their art.

The course was run over a total of 40 hours from March through to August by our in-house Graphic Designer, Cardoso Júnior – and was promoted by Alkance Soluções in partnership with the Sebrae, Planet Smart City and the Planet Institute.

“We are very happy with this partnership, as we strongly believe in the power of social and digital inclusion for the empowerment of people,” says Susanna Marchionni, president of the Planet Institute and Planet Smart City’s CEO in Brazil.

“Here at Smart City Laguna, the Planet Institute already offers free English, entrepreneurship, IT and handicraft courses, both for residents and those in surrounding areas. The result was sensational, with beautiful works by our young people.”

Classes initially took place in person at the Smart City Laguna Innovation Hub, before moving online as a result of the lockdown. Students learned techniques for beginners, covering the whole process of digital illustration – from conceptualisation to completion. This included how to use InkScape, a vector drawing program to create illustrations.

For Cardoso Júnior, Planet Smart City’s graphic designer and the creator of the course, the training will allow young people in the region a better placement in the job market, as well as the generation of income through the provision of services to residents and local entrepreneurs.

“The course sought to stimulate the participants’ creative potential, helping them understand that results come through effort and practising the knowledge you’ve acquired,” says Cardoso Júnior, who created the course.

“This will help them to enter the job market, as well as give them the ability to express themselves artistically. The basics of entrepreneurship were also taught and online platforms for job marketing were presented.”

Exhibition and voting

The artworks created by the young people are on display at the Smart City Laguna Innovation Hub until Friday 25th September and can also be viewed online here, where visitors can vote for their favourite digital illustration.

Casa di Quartiere: how our Community Managers work with neighbourhood associations in Turin, Italy
9 September 2020

Casa di Quartiere: how our Community Managers work with neighbourhood associations in Turin, Italy

Hosting over 120,000 residents, San Salvario, Mirafiori Sud, and Barriera di Milano in Turin, Italy, which now enjoy the benefits of the Planet App – our proprietary digital platform, have also gained Community Managers who are working closely with the Casa di Quartiere neighbourhood associations in each district. 

San Salvario and Barriera di Milano are managed by our Community Manager, Sara Medici, while Imma di Santo takes care of the Mirafiori Sud district. They support residents on a daily basis, grasping their needs and co-creating a path of involvement and participation thanks to the Planet App – our digital platform that allows residents to stay updated on everything that happens in the neighbourhood.

Continued development is now taking place in collaboration with the existing Casa del Quartiere neighbourhood associations in San Salvario, Public Baths via Agliè in Barriera di Milano and Casa del Parco in Mirafiori Sud – who promote the work of the Community Managers and the Planet App.

Open to citizens of all ages, the Casa di Quartiere neighbourhood associations are public spaces that aim to stimulate and facilitate active citizenship through different initiatives: from cultural events and counselling desks to catering services, workshops and courses.

Qualified staff working in each house are ready to help the community and transform individuals’ ideas into concrete services and real projects. We interviewed the managers of the three neighbourhood associations, who explained their day to day role in more detail and how they are working with our Community Managers. Find out more in the video below.

Getting to know the communities

San Salvario is a historic district located southeast of the centre of Turin and is home to around 35,000 inhabitants. In recent years, it has represented an engine for social and cultural innovation, and social experimentation in the area.

Located in the north of Turin, Barriera di Milano hosts approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Historically a working-class village, today it has the highest level of foreign residents in the country, as well as a dense fabric of economic activities and collaborative cultural practices.

Mirafiori Sud, a vast district on the southern outskirts of Turin, has 38,000 inhabitants and is known for its history as the location of the FIAT automobile industrial plant in the twentieth century. Urban regeneration interventions continue to contribute to the growth of opportunities and services in the district.

Affordable real estate needs reimagining to sweep away the old dichotomy of quality and affordability
17 August 2020

Affordable real estate needs reimagining to sweep away the old dichotomy of quality and affordability

As the world moves into the recovery phase, we must innovate to build smarter and more affordable cities.

The global pandemic has amplified the shortcomings of modern cities, from the failure to provide enough outdoor space to inadequate local services. While resourceful solutions have emerged as communities are forced to adapt to the new reality, in the long-term, Covid-19 has shown us we need to invest in cities that are more intelligent and responsive to citizens’ needs.

As the world moves into the recovery phase, smart cities need reimagining – as luxuries, but necessities. Instead of the exclusive reserve of the 1%, the smart city of the future must be affordable and inclusive, integrating solutions that make a meaningful difference to quality of life and community cohesion.

From a business perspective, there is a strong case for affordable housing development. Upsizing or upgrading can wait, but for the 1.6 billion people living in inadequate, unsafe and overcrowded housing, affordable homes are essential. This demand means affordable housing is more resistant to cyclical pressures than other markets, so as companies deliver a crucial service to local people, they also build resilience within their business to the kind of crisis we are currently experiencing.

However, the affordable housing market should not just be seen as a safe harbour. The opportunities it offers for disruption are vast. In the first instance, cities should be adapting to disturbances elsewhere in our lives. Covid-19 has shown both individuals and businesses the merits of home working. According to a survey conducted last month by McKinsey, 69% of people felt that they had become either more productive or maintained productivity levels since moving from the office to home working during the pandemic. 

Little wonder that, in a separate survey, McKinsey found office space decision-makers expect home working to increase to 27% of work time from 20%. We are already seeing this happen with major firms such as Fujitsu committing to permanent work from home plans.

To accommodate changing work patterns, developers need to embrace modern technologies. They should be integrating fibre optic networks and free public Wi-Fi hot spots as a minimum. Moreover, as people invest more time at home, they will come to expect more from their local area. For developers, this means improving services and enhancing community life. The first of these is simple: build parks, leisure facilities, and spaces for educational courses and local events.

For the latter, our communities are due a digital revolution. Planet Smart City found integrating a mobile platform, the Planet App, into the way local people interact with their homes, services and fellow residents, enabled a sea change in community engagement. A platform like the Planet App allows residents to book shared spaces, start local groups and communicate directly with a Community Manager employed by Planet to help them connect with each other and establish their own community projects. This has not only increased quality of life for residents but, through rich levels of feedback and data, helps direct investment more efficiently to projects that align most to residents’ needs.

With people looking to reduce their environmental footprint in response to the climate crisis while also aiming to cut their bills in the face of a recession, efficiency savings are another natural area of focus for developers hoping to distinguish themselves post-Covid. 

As with local engagement, a digital revolution in the way we design and build our communities can offer considerable benefits. Smart meters for heating and electricity can give residents control over their energy usage, while smart irrigation devices designed to react to climatic conditions have a considerable effect on water bills. 

Deploying these solutions in one of Planet’s Brazilian projects, Smart City Laguna, is saving 197 tons of CO2eq emissions and enough water to fill 64 Olympic-sized swimming pools every year.

For years, we have come to expect less from affordable housing, ingraining the assumption that smart solutions and affordability are mutually exclusive. However, Planet’s experience in diverse markets such as Italy, Brazil and India has shown that integrating these innovative features adds just 2-3% to the cost of construction.

These neighbourhoods offer residents a wealth of services, strong community cohesion, low utility bills and, in general, a lifestyle aligned to post-Covid priorities. As such, they can require considerably less marketing effort, the cost savings from which easily cover the extra investment at the construction phase. Moreover, the integration of smart solutions enables the collection of hyper localised data, which can be used collaboratively with residents to align improvements in infrastructure and services to their priorities. This not only means happy communities but helps developers make more effective judgements about where to invest.

The digital revolution in cities around the world can sweep away the old dichotomy of quality and affordability. As we emerge from this difficult period, a new generation of developments can set a new standard that disrupts the market, distinguishes their projects and delivers the lifestyle residents have come to expect.

Alan Marcus
Chief Digital Strategy Officer

Planet Smart City in support of young talent
11 August 2020

Planet Smart City in support of young talent

Planet Smart City takes part in a program that calls on students from all Italian universities to rethink safety, mobility and life in the future of our communities.

From secondary schools to universities, Planet Smart City supports educational activities to help bridge the gap between academia and business. Recent initiatives – such as our partnership with the Polytechnic University of Turin and the agreement with the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – encourage young people to engage with technical-scientific subjects so they can generate research and gain practical insights into architecture, engineering, technology and smart cities.

Driven by continuous research, we are fostering a global network of partners to support innovative solutions for accessible urban living. With this in mind, Planet has agreed to sponsor in Italy “Hack&Go”, a hackathon – an event where participants are challenged to make something from the ground up – dedicated to the themes of 5G, the Internet of Things (loT), and smart mobility. The initiative is promoted by Triulza Foundation in partnership with Bosch and Wind Tre, in collaboration with Concept Reply.

The program calls on students from all Italian universities to rethink safety, mobility and life in the future of our communities, with the aim of creating smart cities that are welcoming, sustainable, and efficient for all. A challenge that has become even more prominent in the context of Covid-19 is the need to redesign not only places and services in our cities, but also how we organise our everyday lives.

In July candidates were presented with the challenges and skills required, along with technical strategic information and inputs for them to develop. The event included an in-depth study of smart city and smart life technologies together with mentors from Planet Smart City, Bosch, Wind Tre, Concept Reply and Triulza Foundation. Candidates will then present a project idea by 6th September.

Selected candidates will compete for prototypes of their project proposals to be developed in a two-day event from 14th to 15th October. The best ideas will be selected by a jury of experts and the winners will have the opportunity to do internships at Bosch and Wind Tre.

Planet Smart City partners with UN-Habitat on slum upgrading initiatives in Kenya
3 August 2020

Planet Smart City partners with UN-Habitat on slum upgrading initiatives in Kenya

Image: Mathare (Nairobi, Kenya). © UN-Habitat/Kirsten Milhahn

We are proud to have joined forces with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, on its Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), to provide digital tools, community management and social innovation to help improve lives in informal settlements in Kibera and Mathare – two of the oldest and biggest slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

The project brings together Planet Smart City and the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), a partnership initiative of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of States Secretariat, the European Commission, and UN-Habitat. Planet will use its expertise in technology, data analytics and community engagement alongside UN-Habitat‘s technical expertise on slum upgrading to deploy digital and on-the-ground solutions that empower slum communities to coordinate locally-led initiatives and raise living conditions.

Since 2008, the PSUP has been working to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 11.1, which aims to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums by 2030. This partnership will use the broad experience of the PSUP in slum upgrading and gather lessons learnt from leveraging private sector engagement for improving the living conditions of one billion slum dwellers worldwide.

At the heart of the initiative is Planet’s proprietary Planet App, a mobile platform that will act as a digital hub for community engagement. Through the app, slum residents will be able to access news and services, including materials for the prevention of diseases, as well as book medical point services, and borrow shared tools and equipment. Moreover, the app will serve as a platform for local coordination, allowing residents to organise community initiatives, participate in savings groups, and view a calendar of activities and educational courses.

Core to the long-term goal of realising financial independence for slum community members, the Planet App will also be deployed to support local entrepreneurship, providing a platform for residents to coordinate and promote their services both within their communities and to the wider area around the slum. It can also be used to link slum community members to employment and training opportunities in Nairobi.

Through this partnership, Planet will also support communities to develop a community hub where events and activities can take place. Planet and UN-Habitat will work in collaboration with local partners, community champions, and NGOs such as Shining Hope for Communities and Slum Dwellers International (SHOFCO), to collect and analyse data on the needs of local residents. This will allow the organisations to engage collaboratively with local people on the design and implementation of new community services and resources.

Data analysis and the tailoring of the app will be supported by the PSUP team on-the-ground in coordination with Planet’s experienced Community Manager, Elena Fabris. Their aim will be to engage local people and more effectively empower their initiatives utilising digital tools. This participatory approach will allow the slum communities to evolve according to local priorities and with a high degree of community ownership.

Giovanni Savio, Chief Executive Officer at Planet Smart City, said: “We have built our company on two core beliefs: the fundamental right of every person to an inclusive, safe and sustainable home, and the conviction that through the adequate scale, smart technology, digitalisation, resilient infrastructure and intelligent urban planning, we can make this a reality. From Brazil to Italy to India, we have not only developed innovative ways to benefit the lives of our residents, we have learnt from them about how better to engage and empower local voices in a process of continual improvement.

“It is incredibly exciting to put our learnings to use with UN-Habitat in the service of communities for whom our innovations and expertise can have a transformational effect. With African cities growing by 40,000 people every single day, the need for safe, comfortable and affordable homes is pressing. As we continue to build insights into the rich communities and complex challenges across the continent, we hope to expand the services we can offer people in its many diverse nations.”

Alan Marcus, Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Planet Smart City, said: “Africa is in the midst of one of the world’s most exciting technological metamorphoses, with Kenya right at the heart. The country is already the world leader for mobile money penetration, and connection to mobile services has surged from 30% of the population in 2009 to over 50% last year.* The forces of innovation that are transforming lives in both Kenya and across the continent can be harnessed to empower the people of African nations.

“All of us at Planet are energised by the prospect of working with UN-Habitat to ensure this digital revolution in Africa is an inclusive one. Slum communities are tight-knit, resourceful and brimming with potential – if we give them the tools, these communities can be the catalysts for real and long-term transformation.”

Kerstin Sommer, Manager of the UN-Habitat Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, said: “With the Covid-19 momentum, we all need to play a part for a bigger mission to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our cities. That won’t work without the contribution of the private sector.”

*GSMA, March 2020