Smart technology that brings people together
7 October 2021

Smart technology that brings people together

In a new film series, Housing Europe showcases the forward-thinking social and affordable housing initiatives that are changing the game across Europe. 

Produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, this exploratory online video series uncovers the powerful stories of innovation and community in the social, cooperative, public and community-led housing sector. 

The last years has seen an exacerbation of housing problems across Europe, but it has also brought with it an awareness of what is really essential and what binds us together as humans. With renewed commitment, the sector is now more than ever, focused on delivering quality, affordable and sustainable housing for all in the wake of Covid-19. 

Produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions – the commercial content division of BBC Global News, Building Communities is an exciting new online film series, designed to showcase the benefits of forward-thinking social housing initiatives and challenge the persistent misconceptions around social mixing and housing quality. Through diverse voices and innovative organisations, Building Communities tells the stories of people from different walks of life living in social and affordable housing. 

Our film will look to explore two key social and societal issues – inclusivity and opportunity within the context of the affordable housing market in Europe and beyond.   

It is well documented that health, well-being and prosperity are inextricably linked to access to housing. Housing creates neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods become the foundations of community – the cornerstone on which safety, security and the beginning of a better quality of life is born.   For Planet Smart City access to housing is not enough. It is the combination of modern infrastructure, enabled by better technology in particular, and the neighbourhood environment that is enabled and created as a result that can achieve more. Planet Smart City communities are places are full of hope and opportunity. They are places that democratise access to a better and lasting future.  For us, this goes beyond building a simple better quality of life but is about empowerment, enabling better economic and social inclusivity and ultimately creating sustainable generational value. We do this by providing a service beyond the sale of individual property and land through our proprietary digital platform, services and app that enable and support truly sustainable communities. 

Building Communities launched on BBC.com on 16 June at Housing Europe’s Social Housing Film Festival and will run for 12 months. 

Watch now the our brand film and join the conversation on social media via the #BuildingCommunities #planetsmartcity hashtag.

Planet Smart City expands global footprint with North American project
19 July 2021

Planet Smart City expands global footprint with North American project

Planet Smart City has announced its expansion into North America with the launch of 324 new rental apartments, and 11,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, in partnership with international real estate developers Palladium Group in Little Elm, Texas.

Work on the project, named The District, builds on the existing partnership between Planet and Palladium, which has seen the successful regeneration of Quartiere Giardino in Milan, Italy. With expertise in construction, Palladium Group will employ local workforces to build the properties. Planet is providing both capital and expertise for the project and will integrate a variety of smart solutions to enhance services available to residents and improve quality of life.

Smart solutions will include: the Planet App, a community app where residents can interact with the smart solutions and shared services available in the neighbourhood; an Innovation Hub, a space equipped with resources, tools and technologies to enable residents to thrive; as well as community management, a team dedicated to understanding community needs and co-creating events, courses and activities.

The project 4.69 hectares land, located in Denton County- part of the fourth fastest growing real estate market in North America and Canada, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex – in Little Elm is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Texas, with an estimated population of more than 55,000. Like many other cities in North America, due to a lack of supply and increasing rental prices, there is a pressing need for affordable housing solutions.

The launch of apartments in Little Elm will help address the housing deficit by offering new, smart enabled homes for an average of US $1,300 per month. With projects in Brazil, India and Italy, the launch of Little Elm signals the latest advancement in Planet’s mission to solve the global affordable housing challenge. Having raised circa US $190 million to date, the Planet Group’s ambitious global growth plans foresee the sale of 44,500 housing units by 2025.

View press release

Planet Smart City creates exclusive platform with Kolte-Patil Developers to launch 15,000 housing units*
16 July 2021

Planet Smart City creates exclusive platform with Kolte-Patil Developers to launch 15,000 housing units*

Planet Smart City, the global leader in smart affordable housing, is pleased to announce the extension of its exclusive partnership with Pune-based Kolte-Patil Developers, a leading real-estate player, to propel Planet’s Indian business over the next 3 years. The expansion will focus on a collaborative residential development platform consisting of projects and homes that promote aspirational living with digital and social innovation-led smart solutions to enable a better living experience for residents.

Building upon the success of its first co-development in Pune, ‘Universe’, Planet and Kolte-Patil plan to add several projects to the platform over the next three years in Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru with an aim to co-develop a minimum of 15,000 housing units*. With a growing population, India currently has one of the top five most pronounced housing shortages in the world. Every minute, 30 people migrate from rural to urban India. In 2011, only 30% of India’s population lived in urban areas, however, this percentage is expected to go up to 40% and the number of people living in Indian cities is expected to reach a whopping 630 million by 2030.

Outside of the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the pair will also look to identify other opportunities for co-development over the medium-term.  Urbanisation particularly intensifies the already large demand for affordable housing. The Smart City concept and the latest macro-trends such as PropTech are key to be able to decouple growth and environmental impact in Asian cities, aiming at meeting ESG criteria and a good quality of life for citizens in highly dense urban settlements.

View press release

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.

Planet Smart City and Enel X launch strategic partnership
2 March 2021

Planet Smart City and Enel X launch strategic partnership

Planet Smart City has signed an international agreement with Enel X, the Enel Group business line dedicated to innovative energy services.

Supporting Planet’s projects in Brazil, Enel X will provide a variety of IoT-enabled products and services, including intelligent streetlights and smart home devices. The partnership with Enel X is an important strategic agreement for Planet, helping deliver its ambitious plans to launch 44,500 housing units by 2025.

The devices provided by Enel X will enable a range of value-adding services, leveraged by Planet to strengthen engagement among the communities and enhance the lives of its residents. Moreover, by providing access to these products at scale, the partnership with Enel X will enable Planet to maintain the efficient development of smart communities at a low cost to residents.

In addition, through YouUrban, the strategic platform used across Enel X’s smart city projects, Planet will have access to data-driven analytics showcasing interactions between its solutions and residents. This will enable Planet to better tailor its solutions to strengthen community engagement.

View press release

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

Library of Things: why buy when you can share?
17 July 2020

Library of Things: why buy when you can share?

Thanks to a rise in sharing economy models over the last decade, citizens’ approach to urban services has been transformed through the creation and implementation of an abundance of innovative initiatives.

Based also on the circular economy model, which focuses on utilising resources for the longest time possible to extract maximum value and reduce waste, the Library of Things concept lowers the cost of living and improves residents’ quality of life, helping to create a thriving community.

What is the Library of Things and how does it work?

The Library of Things is a physical space where you can rent for free or exchange specific objects and equipment that does not require daily use: from power drills and ladders to small appliances and board games. Citizens can also donate items rarely used and make them available for the wider community to borrow.

The innovative initiative first spread to London, Toronto and Berlin, and has been adopted within Planet Smart City’s affordable housing projects across the world. Not only does the Library of Things save residents money, but it also encourages citizens to reduce, reuse, and recycle objects. With the support of the Planet App, the smart solution has become incredibly popular among our residents in Italy and Brazil.

Quartiere Giardino, Milan, Italy

In June 2019, the Library of Things was implemented at Quartiere Giardino, a residential complex in the Southwest of Milan, Italy. The common space consists of two rooms equipped with shelves, workbenches and tool holders, with around 50 tools available for residents and the surrounding community to borrow via the Planet App.

Thanks to the ‘Equipment’ function on the app, users can browse through a list of available items, read their descriptions, check availability, and reserve items they need. In the past 12 months, 720 people have engaged with Quartiere Giardino’s Library of Things via the Planet App. Among the objects borrowed most often were soccer uniforms and home toolkits.

Smart City Laguna, Brazil

At Smart City Laguna, the first affordable smart city in the world, the Library of Things has been in full function since November 2019. The space is open to the public every day, from 8am to 5pm. Citizens can search through the extensive list of items, including ladders, pliers, drills, screwdrivers and hammers.

The most popular items available are the electric screwdriver, metric tape, and spanner. Objects can be kept for up to 15 days before being returned in perfect condition, ready for their next use.

Empowering people to borrow rather than buy everyday items, the Library of Things is an innovative solution that offers practical items to people from all walks of life – but especially those with limited budgets. Following the successful implementation of the scheme in Brazil and Italy, Planet intends to introduce the initiative into our future smart projects to reduce wastage, encourage sustainable behaviours, and ultimately provide the community with added value.

Defining happier communities: simple and meaningful ways to create lasting connections
7 July 2020

Defining happier communities: simple and meaningful ways to create lasting connections

Neha Shrivastava, our Community Manager at Life Republic in Pune, India, shares a variety of ways citizens can go about creating meaningful and lasting connections with their neighbours, helping to create a safe, connected, and fulfilling community.

As a young child, I hardly ever felt the need to watch TV or play video games, and my parents rarely worried about my safety out in the community – there was always a Dadi, Aunty, or Nani watching over the kids. The feeling of safety and happiness I gained as a result was strong. I felt safe, connected, and happy.

In recent days, we are all spending less time outside connecting with others, and more time inside looking at screens and it’s no secret that this can lead to feelings of anxiety or fear. For this reason, I’d like to share some simple and meaningful ways to create lasting connections and help overcome any negative feelings that may arise during this time.

1. Leverage the Planet App

The great thing about the Planet App is that it’s the ideal tool for figuring out which of your neighbours might like to collaborate with you in some way. For example, you could co-create solutions to increase community safety, establish linkages with local vendors, plan get-togethers, host performance clubs, or deliver a workshop on a skill you’ve mastered.

2. Form groups with similar interests

Create a community group so that all like-minded people can join and collaborate with each other. Sharing ideas and collaborating with others in your township can be a great way to feel a sense of connectedness and cooperation within the society. You might like to exchange books, recipes, or discuss specific topics. You could even create a Library of Things, where community members can loan out useful everyday items like ladders, hammers and power drills, to other residents.

3. Host meetings to touch-base

Meetings are an essential part of any collaborative relationship – and they are the glue holding any community group together. Create a schedule of regular meetings where members of your community have the opportunity to talk with each other, share ideas, brainstorm or even just to get to know one another! Supplementing these meetings with social media Q&A sessions can make discussions even more fruitful. You might consider taking meetings notes and sharing them through Planet App notifications.

4. Run workshops to upskill different groups

Organising a free course with a qualified instructor open to everyone who’s interested can be a great way to increase other people’s confidence in a particular domain. Invite anyone who may be interested, and be sure to speak to your attendees for feedback you can use to make future sessions even better. You might also like to ask those who expressed interest but didn’t attend what their reasons were perhaps there is a solution that can be found? For example, if some women in your community prefer a women-focused session and decided not to attend for that reason, gender-specific mini-courses could be arranged to meet this need.

5. Co-create and reclaim spaces

Are there any vacant lots, abandoned spaces, or areas that could be enhanced by and for the community? Create a community event to co-create and revitalise a public space alongside other residents. For example, if there is a green area with a large tree, perhaps it could benefit from having a swing installed? Small touches like this can transform underused spaces into areas that are cherished by everyone.

6. Community children’s activities

Inspiring children to explore different fields is an effective way to help them (and you!) understand where their interests lie. You could mentor them on subjects they are interested in, or perhaps find retired professionals, keen mothers or engaging fathers to run the activity. Events can be held on an ongoing basis, allowing children to get to know others and develop meaningful friendships close to home.

Neha Shrivastava
Community Manager, India

Smart solutions to improve urban mobility
2 July 2020

Smart solutions to improve urban mobility

With rapid urbanisation affecting cities across the globe, intelligent planning of urban environments and technology are now central to improving mobility. Functional smart solutions are needed – not only to minimise the amount of time and money citizens spend on everyday trips, but also to limit environmental pollution. 

INRIX, a company that helps cities and businesses use big data to understand and solve transportation problems, has conducted a study to identify, analyse and rank congestion and mobility trends in over 900 cities across 43 countries. The 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard (which excludes India), shows that Latin American and European cities dominate the Top 10 – with Bogota, where drivers lose an average of 191 hours a year on the road, worst affected by traffic congestion.

Urban traffic and air quality are some of the factors that determine the quality of life of citizens. As the issue spreads around the world, Planet Smart City teams are studying the different smart mobility solutions and selecting those which best meet the needs of each project. Some of them are detailed below:

Traffic hierarchy

To create traffic hierarchy, road lanes should be designed to divide vehicles according to the destination of the traveller. In our greenfield projects built from the ground up, we have set up the road hierarchy to limit the number of car routes that end in residential areas. Intelligent planning that follows this logic is important because it differentiates between those who travel within the neighbourhood and those who are travelling long distances.

At SeiMilano for instance, a new multifunctional district in Milan, Italy, a Zone 30 Area has been implemented, where the speed limit has been reduced from 50 kilometres per hour in accordance with the national code, to 30 kilometres per hour. The Zone 30 Area helps to limit traffic jams, improves air quality, and allows pedestrians and bicycles to travel easily and safely between houses and shops.

Pedestrian and bicycle networks

Walking and cycling must be feasible and safe alternative modes of transport for short and medium distance journeys, and cities need to integrate pedestrian and cycle paths into their urban road systems. At present, many urban areas around the world lack spaces that are reserved for only pedestrians – with cars and motorcycles often parked on pavements, and dangerous pedestrian crossings having no traffic lights and poor visibility. Safe, traffic-protected and integrated road systems, on the other hand, help promote residents’ safety and well-being.

In Smart City Laguna and Smart City Natal, Brazil, we have created a network of pedestrian and cycle paths with rest areas throughout the urban context. This helps to facilitate easy access between different areas of the city with high concentrations of public and private activities.

Functional mix design

Another key element to consider when designing urban mobility systems is a balance in the distribution of housing, services, business and production activities across the urban area. What would happen during peak hours, for example, if activities and workplaces are concentrated exclusively in certain areas of the city?

In all of Planet’s greenfield real estate projects, our multidisciplinary teams develop a functional mix design, focusing on the potential concentration of traffic in specific directions or during certain time slots – in order to reduce traffic jams and cut pollution. Shops, services and work are available close to home, making neighbourhoods more safe, pleasant and liveable while saving residents a considerable amount of time and money spent reaching basic services.

Mobility on Demand

Thanks to recent developments in urban mobility, it is no longer necessary for households to have different means of transport of their own. Rather, people can easily share their transportation method with others who have the same needs.

The innovative concept of Mobility on Demand (MoD) is shaping the future of urban mobility, allowing citizens to access mobility, goods, and services in real-time, making their journeys more efficient using technology. Sharing mobility services are an intelligent way to drastically reduce traffic and pollution organically.

MoD platforms allow people who need transport to ‘meet’ drivers available nearby on the reference platform, simply by sending a request and sharing their geolocation. As well as being an economic solution, such solutions can facilitate travel between transit stations and homes or workplaces, encouraging citizens not to use their private car for daily trips.

Uber and Lyft are popular examples of MoD services, however, other solutions with a strong impact are car-sharing and bike-sharing, which allow users to reserve vehicles to rent via digital apps. Both car and bike-sharing are in the process of being implemented through the Planet App in several of our projects, including REDO in Milan – the first affordable smart project in Italy.

Micro-mobility with zero emissions

To reduce the circulation of cars and harmful emissions into the atmosphere at the local level, urban micro-mobility solutions are gaining increasing popularity in today’s cities. Scooters, electric bicycles, hoverboards and segways are already part of the daily scene in big cities such as Milan, New York and São Paulo, representing a simple zero-emission alternative for short journeys.

To regulate and guarantee a good micro-mobility service, the network of European cities and regions for the development of innovative technologies and policies for local transport, POLIS, considers the improvement of the urban infrastructure system as one of the topics of interest for citizens. Traffic reduction in specific areas, and routes and parking spaces reserved for micro-mobility are two possible measures.

Free shared Wi-Fi network

In order for MoD solutions such as car-sharing and bike-sharing to be exploited for everyday travel, there must be widespread internet connectivity so residents can get the information they need in every neighbourhood of the city. In all of our projects, we provide free Wi-Fi in areas that are shared by citizens.

These solutions are strengthened by many others, such as smart parking, which significantly limits the time and fuel wasted searching for a parking space.

Other smart solutions which optimise public services include intelligent bus shelters that display the route and provide the real-time location of buses in circulation, waiting times and possible connections with other services – for example, car or bike-sharing. Access to services like these will play an increasingly important role in where people choose to live.

Four ways we can innovate in real estate
23 June 2020

Four ways we can innovate in real estate

Tools to manage resources efficiently, spaces for communal use, technological systems implementation and services: these are some of the ways we can improve our communities in an ever-changing world. Besides delivering a superior quality of life, these initiatives can also give new strength to a sector that is central to the economy.  

A considerable wealth of information has been captured as a result of the global experience of the pandemic. Companies have been driven to rethink the way they operate, and governments reconsider how healthcare is managed and delivered. As such, it is also necessary to reimagine community life and the quality of existing residential housing stock.

The health emergency has amplified shortcomings that were already evident. Change is needed – not just to deal more effectively with future emergencies, but because, in recent months, people have become more aware of their needs and the inadequacy of their housing situation.

While new environmental and social sensitivities have emerged over the last years, real estate supply has remained pretty much the same. This is likely due to the demand for innovation when buying a house not having followed that of other goods, like cars and smartphones. The shock of the pandemic has heavily impacted people’s lives across the world, and could now accelerate a change in demand, forcing the supply to evolve towards a new way of designing and building community life.

In practice, there are four categories of innovative interventions which can improve life in residential neighbourhoods and condominiums: efficient management of resources, design of spaces for collective use; use of digital technologies; and services for community well-being. Examples are listed below:

Resource efficiency: real-time information on electricity, heating and water consumption accessible to residents through their smartphone or tablet device; community composters; smart IoT systems that can regulate the irrigation of green areas; energy-efficient solutions applied to roofs of buildings.

Collective spaces: rooms equipped for sheltering and repairing bicycles; common spaces that residents can book for private activities or community events; car-sharing initiatives.

Digital technologies: fibre optic networks to make homeworking more efficient; free Wi-Fi hotspots in common or green areas; low-power long-range radio frequency networks that monitor and control services through sensors; energy-saving lighting systems; neighbourhood apps which facilitate collaboration between residents in the community, and provide access to innovative services and the condominium’s data. 

Community well-being: innovative neighbourhood concierge who provides remote assistance to residents; video surveillance systems; local air quality monitoring systems; bookcrossing initiatives; spaces to borrow tools that are not used every day by residents, such as power drills and sanders.

If we compare these innovations to today’s average housing situation, we realise that the room for intervention is extensive. While not everything may be feasible in residences conceived twenty or thirty years ago, there is certainly a lot that can be done now. 

I can almost hear the objections: it’s all very nice, but what about the cost? Can real estate, with the prospect of having to face the impact of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, take this innovative direction?

Which users, today and in the medium-term, will ever be able to afford innovation? Are those with lower than average incomes, and who likely live in low-quality housing, prevented from accessing innovation and technology?

Planet Smart City’s experience in its ongoing projects in Italy, Brazil and India tells us that integrating innovative solutions like those mentioned above into large projects increases construction costs by an average of only 2-3%. This rise in cost could then be offset by the growing appeal of the real estate product since buyers would perceive it as innovative and, in the medium term, less expensive to manage.

To conclude, not only does innovation improve people’s quality of life, but it can also bring benefits to developers, construction companies, and property owners, by helping the real estate industry face this difficult phase in the market.

Gianni Savio
Co-founder and Global CEO 

Planet Smart City partners with global leadership organisation Mandela Mile
15 June 2020

Planet Smart City partners with global leadership organisation Mandela Mile

Planet Smart City has announced a partnership with Mandela Mile, the organisation founded in memory of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, to nurture the next generation of global leaders.

As well as contributing financially, Planet will work with Mandela Mile to inspire, showcase and support leaders from within Planet’s communities in Brazil, India and Italy, as part of Mandela Mile’s goal to empower a community of 100,000 mindful leaders worldwide. The partnership will play an important role in connecting Planet’s own community members to a global network of leaders, helping them apply Mandela Mile’s values of freedom, kindness and peace at a local level.

Founded in 2018, Mandela Mile is an annual observance of global leadership that runs between 8th April and 18th July. During this period, the organisation commemorates the lives of South African leader, Nelson Mandela, and United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. Its Mandela Mile walks, held each year on 18th July, take place in 13 countries around the world. They also work year-round to foster a community of leaders who are inspired to make the world a freer, kinder, and more peaceful place.

Through its Global Leadership Training Platform, Mandela Mile has already accepted 40 rising leaders from 21 countries to take part in a course developed in collaboration with the Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP). The individuals gain access to 10 global thought leaders, 14 world-class coaches, and 20 CPLP alumni to support their development. Planet’s residents and employees will be encouraged to take part in this year’s social media campaign, sharing videos of what motivates them to take action in their communities. This will be an opportunity not only to spread Mandela Mile’s message of mindful leadership but also to share examples of positive local action that may inspire others to act for the good of their neighbourhoods.

Carmen Romero, Chief Impact Officer at Planet Smart City, said: “Planet Smart City is incredibly proud to be partnering with Mandela Mile. We firmly believe in community leadership – it lies at the heart of how we design and manage our neighbourhoods. By working with Mandela Mile, we hope we can inspire a generation of local leaders in our communities. We look forward to introducing all of our residents to Mandela Mile’s great work and will continue empowering them with everything they need to make their neighbourhoods a better place.”

Shanthi Annan, Founder and Director of Mandela Mile, said: “We are excited by the possibility of working together with Planet on a long-term basis to inspire, showcase and support leaders from within its communities. To start with, we very much hope that Planet Smart City residents will choose to play an active role in this year’s social media campaign by posting their videos and tagging @mandelamile. We want to hear about what motivates them to keep positive, grow together, and take action within their communities at this time!”

View press release

Planet Smart City strengthens Board of Directors with world-class experience
3 June 2020

Planet Smart City strengthens Board of Directors with world-class experience

New independent Board members enhance Planet’s international know-how in real estate, services and data, and are complemented by the creation of an ESG Board Committee and the hire of its first Chief Impact Officer.

Planet Smart City has bolstered its Board with the appointment of four independent directors. The company is undergoing rapid growth and plans to launch 30 large real estate projects in the next three years.

Through its unique proptech approach, Planet applies its expertise in smart solutions integration, digital technologies, services, and social innovation to enhance quality of life. Embracing digital transformation, the company places residents at the heart of activities. Its smart, sustainable and socially inclusive communities are supported by the unrivalled services of the Planet App, Planet’s proprietary digital platform which enables residents to engage with each other and the neighbourhood around them.

The new non-executive directors join Planet’s Co-founder and Global CEO Giovanni Savio, Chairman Stefano Buono, and Brazil CEO Susanna Marchionni on the Board of Directors. The appointments not only reinforce Planet’s strong foundation for future growth but ensure best practice corporate governance with a majority of independent directors.

Audrey Klein, Head of Fund Raising at global real estate investment company, Kennedy Wilson Europe. An experienced real estate professional who spent nine years at Blackstone, Audrey has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. She also sits on the Corporate Board of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, UK.

Carolyn Aitchison has extensive experience as a non-executive director in the financial, education and non-profit sectors. Carolyn is a Board member of the University of Law and chairs the Audit Committee as well as sitting on the University of Edinburgh’s £600 million Endowment and Investment Fund. Previously, she was a Board member of two UK banks and several charities.

Mikael Hagstroem has served on several Boards and as a CEO with a strategic focus on creating new markets through disruption, collaborative business relationships, and industry thought leadership. Mikael promotes digital transformation through the convergence of AI, Big Data, the elastic cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT). He has held strategic leadership positions at SAS and McKinsey.

Filippo Rean is Managing Director of Reed Midem’s Real Estate Division, where he is a member of the Executive Committee. He heads the leading professional shows for the global real estate, smart cities and proptech communities: MIPIM, MAPIC and Propel. Filippo has an MBA in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Carmen Romero

In addition, Planet has appointed Carmen Romero to the role of Chief Impact Officer. Carmen, whose experience includes investment banking, private equity, social innovation and corporate responsibility, will work closely with stakeholders across the business to identify, measure and evaluate the environmental, social and governance impact of the company’s existing strategies and processes; prepare Planet for impact investment; and align the company to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She will also create and implement a framework and methodology to proactively manage Planet’s impact, including launching new partnerships and initiatives to generate long-lasting value for residents within each of the company’s developments.

Carmen will be a member of Planet’s newly-created Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Committee which will also include Susanna Marchionni and Audrey Klein. The ESG Committee will reinforce the company’s commitment to driving positive impact, both in the communities it creates and in broader society.

Stefano Buono, Chairman of Planet Smart City, said: “We are delighted to announce these latest developments, which position us strongly for our continued growth. As a private company with more than 300 shareholders, having an independent Board demonstrates our strong commitment to corporate governance and reflects our ambitious plans for the business. I welcome Audrey, Carolyn, Filippo and Mikael to our Board and am thrilled we have attracted such high quality and talented individuals. Their international experience across real estate, service and data will prove invaluable as we continue with our strategy to transform affordable housing across the globe.”

Audrey Klein said: “We are enhancing an ESG platform at Planet Smart City to deliver long-term social, environmental and economic value across its projects to key stakeholders. I am delighted to be chairing our ESG Committee that will meet quarterly.”

Mikael Hagstroem said: “Planet Smart City is embracing digital technology with the community at heart, redefining the social contract of the neighbourhood. The confluence of four technologies – elastic cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and proptech – is transforming the human condition, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another. I like to think of this as community tech – a platform for a digital ecosystem that integrates all available technologies, including proptech – to improve housing in a breath-taking speed. Planet Smart City paints an inspiring vision for a better future.”

Full press release

 

Planet Smart City expands further in Brazil with new smart city launch
26 May 2020

Planet Smart City expands further in Brazil with new smart city launch

Smart City Aquiraz, Planet’s fourth development in the country, will be home to 18,000 residents.

Planet Smart City, the global leader in smart affordable housing, has expanded its presence in Brazil with the launch of its fourth smart project in the country: Smart City Aquiraz. The 200-hectare site, which is located just 29km from Ceará’s capital Fortaleza and 6km from the popular tourist beach of Praia Bela, will be home to more than 18,000 residents and easily accessible by public transport.

Through its unique proptech approach, Planet applies its expertise in smart solutions integration, digital technologies, services, and social innovation to enhance the quality of life. Embracing digital transformation, the company places its residents at the heart of activities. Its smart, sustainable and socially inclusive communities are supported by the unrivalled services of the Planet App, Planet’s proprietary digital platform which enables residents to engage with each other and the neighbourhood around them.

Following the successful launch of Smart City Laguna, also in Ceará, Smart City Natal, in Rio Grande do Norte, and Viva!Smart, in São Paulo, Planet will invest a total of US $40 million to design and develop the new city. Smart City Aquiraz will incorporate Planet’s expertise in bringing together superior infrastructure, urban planning, sustainability, digital services and social innovation programmes to deliver affordable high quality, low-cost homes which is transforming the way affordable housing is delivered worldwide.

Smart City Aquiraz will feature a host of social and digital solutions including a free library, cinema, outdoor fitness areas, cycle lanes, urban gardens, a football pitch, shared kitchen facilities for residents as well as technological features such as free Wi-Fi across communal areas.

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What is a smart city?
22 May 2020

What is a smart city?

For Planet, a smart city is a project which integrates a series of solutions in technology, architecture, social innovation, and environmental sustainability, to improve people’s lives. 

The first time the term smart city was used was in 1992, as a subtitle in an academic book. Since then, the smart city concept has been gaining popularity. From academic research to public policy and the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), much has been discussed in the last decades.

Although institutions and research centres have been trying to determine parameters and evaluation systems aimed at defining smart cities and districts, there is still no standard or accepted international definition of what a smart city is or how to develop one.

With over 70% of the world’s population forecasted to live in cities by 2050 according to the United Nations, the smart city concept has built up increasing attention among urban planners and government initiatives looking for the best solutions for accommodating such rapid urbanisation.

Over the last thirty years, the term smart city has identified the digital and technological city. Worldwide real estate developments – both greenfield, where construction is undertaken from scratch, and brownfield, where projects involve existing real estate assets – that have been defined as smart usually feature vertical integration of technology.

Meanwhile, Planet Smart City has been at the forefront of a paradigm shift. Since the company was founded in 2015, we have advocated the use of smart technologies in cities and real estate projects as a way to promote inclusivity and enable communities to thrive. For us, a smart city is a project which integrates a series of smart solutions in technology, architecture, social innovation and environmental sustainability, aiming ultimately to improve people’s lives.

Planet’s concept

Through our unique proptech approach, we deliver smart solutions integration, digital technologies, services and social innovations that are backed by the latest research. Embracing digital transformation, we place residents at the heart of company activities.

Our smart, sustainable and socially inclusive communities are supported by the unrivalled services of the Planet App, our proprietary digital platform where residents can engage with each other and the neighbourhood around them.

Our teams focus on implementing solutions that help to overcome urban challenges posed by rising city populations, including increased energy consumption, economic competitiveness, and rising citizen expectations.

The diverse skill set of our Competence Centre’s interdisciplinary experts gives us a solid compass to assess and curate thousands of smart city solutions, digital services, and social innovations which have been tested and can provide immediate impact. We select and test the best solutions to achieve the greatest results in our affordable housing projects.

Transforming affordable housing

To be considered a smart city, an urban area needs to use different types of data collection sensors to support decision making, manage assets and resources efficiently, and supply value-added services to citizens.

Such data can be gathered from residents, devices and assets, and is then processed and analysed to monitor and manage a range of components. These include traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, law enforcement, schools and hospitals.

The concept behind smart cities integrates information and communication technology with devices connected to an IoT network to optimise operations and services and connect with inhabitants.

While many large modern cities such as London and Singapore have been labelled smart cities, Planet’s approach is focused on the way smart technology can transform affordable housing by putting our residents’ needs at the core of every development.

Four macro-areas

For us at Planet, a smart city is a sustainable, technological and socially inclusive city – a city that focuses on people and ensures a high quality of life for communities through the adoption of innovative smart solutions covering four macro-areas:

Planning and architecture

We integrate architectural solutions to deliver high quality, low-cost homes surrounded by public spaces that create communities, foster relationships, and provide lasting value for local residents.

Technological systems

Residents’ lives are enhanced through technological solutions in networks, home automation, air quality control, security, and more. Many solutions are facilitated and can be accessed through the Planet App.

Environment

From drought-resistant plants to solar bricks and intelligent irrigation, we implement innovations in sustainable solutions to create long-lasting value for future generations.

Social innovation

Living in a smart city is more than just owning a home. We create communities that are smart, sustainable, socially inclusive and empower citizens to make a difference in their local community.

We are committed to building places that have heart and soul, that can accommodate diverse communities, and that meet the changing needs of residents. The smart solutions we integrate are backed by thorough research and testing for maximum efficiency.

Benefits of a smart city

A new culture is spreading across potential home-buyers who want their homes to feature the same intelligence they find in other moments of their daily lives: in the car, at work, while using mobile phones. Such expectations raise the bar and force real estate operators to embrace a new paradigm of systemic innovation. However, the very few who have moved in this direction so far have done so without applying an integrated approach to their projects.

According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, there are several areas and macro-sectors in which the evolution of a city in a “smart” sense can bring concrete benefits to citizens: safety, mobility, health, leisure, environmental quality and social relations.

In partnership with Arup, Our Competence Centre has developed the Social Smart City Matrix (SSCM), the world’s first tool for evaluating smart greenfield real estate projects. The objective of the SSCM is to guide all stakeholders involved in the design and construction of large real estate projects so they can choose the most appropriate smart solutions for each project. This guarantees the implementation of an integrated system of solutions and not just the installation of a set of gadgets.

The SSCM tool highlights the human component in each project, avoiding a techno-centric only approach. It provides a set of results that measure, quantitatively and qualitatively the real estate operator’s commitment to developing a smart city.

As per the model developed by Planet, a real estate project can be defined as smart if it maximises on six key qualities: attractive, healthy, inclusive, efficient, informative, digital. Once carefully selected, smart solutions are combined to increase the score of each quality across the four macro-areas: environment, planning and architecture, technological systems, and social innovation.

The smart city concept developed by Planet involves intelligence provided at the home and district level, with integrated smart solutions to improve quality of life, provide more services, and decrease the cost of living for citizens.

The world’s first affordable smart city

Planet Smart City is innovative in its business model, which brings the smart city concept and affordable housing together. Launched in 2015, Smart City Laguna in Brazil is the first affordable smart city in the world, currently under construction in the state of Ceara, Brazil. As a blueprint for future developments, Laguna has provided insights to Smart City Natal and Smart City Aquiraz, also under construction in Brazil.

Set across 330 hectares of land, Laguna will be home to 25,000 residents in the next few years and is proof that the global housing crisis can be successfully addressed.

The project involves intelligent urban planning, infrastructure, technology, digital services and social innovation, to create a smart urban ecosystem, guaranteeing energy savings, reduced CO₂ emissions, and improved quality of life for citizens through the Community Manager and social innovation practices.

Smart solutions integration

Our Competence Centre has developed a catalogue with more than 200 smart solutions to choose from which can be integrated into projects depending on the specific needs of the community. Some examples that have been implemented at Smart City Laguna include:

The Planet App

The free neighbourhood app can be downloaded by all those who live in and around Smart City Laguna, representing a means to get in touch with everything “smart” in the district. The tool helps create socially inclusive and participatory communities by providing news and activities, access to digital groups, advice on daily smart actions, opportunities to book common areas, organise local activities and borrow useful tools.

Community Manager

Unique to Planet, we place a Community Manager in all of our smart projects. Their role is to encourage a culture of good living, speak to residents about their needs, offer opportunities available nearby, provide useful tools, and organise activities in shared common spaces. The Planet App is their main ally, combining technology and social innovation to empower residents.

Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub is designed to host social activities such as courses, readings and workshops, as well as private and public events. Via the Planet App, residents can arrange to book common areas. The Innovation Hub is home to a smart gym, library, and cinema.

Library of Things 

The Library of Things is a physical space where residents can rent or exchange specific objects and equipment that do not require daily use. Instead of keeping items that are rarely used or no longer needed at home, the library offers the chance to lend them to the community. It is a cost-sharing tool that encourages citizens to recycle and reuse objects. Around 50 different items are available to be booked through the Planet App.

Smart gym 

Residents can practice healthy outdoor aerobic activities for free in the green areas of the district. Smart gym equipment such as the spinning bikes and hand bikes produce kinetic energy to recharge electronic devices including smartphones or tablets.

Bike-sharing 

Bicycles are available to borrow from certain points in the smart city and can be booked using the Planet App.

Planet’s smart city vision is to integrate services into neighbourhoods and provide opportunities which enable communities to thrive, inside and outside of the home. We believe that everyone wants to feel part of a community that has a heart and soul, where diversity is celebrated, and smart solutions meet the changing needs of residents.

As stated by our Chief Digital Strategy Officer, Alan Marcus, in his interview on the Smart and Sustainable Cities podcast: “Technology can change outcomes in many profound ways. Smart is not only about technology, it’s about fundamentally changing the way we do things. Bringing the power back to the individuals and allowing them to drive that change. Smart isn’t just because you’re Wi-Fi connected or you have 5G. Smart means the way that I live and operate my life is in a much more effective way.”

AI as a tool for improving life
11 May 2020

AI as a tool for improving life

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made it possible to collect and analyse large amounts of information, which could optimise processes in many sectors, including urban spaces, transport and healthcare.

In the long term, AI presents a toolbox that could greatly improve the services and infrastructure provided to residents worldwide. However, besides placing people at the centre of the continuous development and improvement of the technology, it is important to ensure that people and communities trust innovations. Only in this way can they be implemented, shaping our communities and helping to create cities that are tailored to communities and able to offer a better quality of life.

To date, not enough attention has been paid to the great benefits that AI can offer,  now and into the future. However, as AI progresses, the benefits have gained increased awareness and the technology is destined to become a real turning point for contemporary life.

Exploiting the benefits of AI could improve the quality of life of city dwellers, and help build environmentally and economically sustainable realities by providing more efficient processes and better automation, sustainable practices and medical care.

AI in the design of new living spaces

A number of global crises have come to the forefront of the minds of millions of people worldwide, and the housing situations of the global population is at the heart of the change required to build sustainable communities. Artificial intelligence can aid in optimising the way that new cities and districts are designed, and the way that existing communities are regenerated.

More people are migrating to cities than ever before. By 2050, the United Nations predicts that cities will host 68% of the world’s population. They say this figure will rise from the current 7.6 billion inhabitants to 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. Rapid urbanisation is a challenge for cities that will not be easy to overcome.

Leaders and policymakers are finding themselves increasingly concerned with how to develop transport infrastructure, supply and distribute energy resources, tackle crime prevention, and develop quality health services. From now on, they also need to be able to manage the peaks in demand for benefits due to unexpected epidemics.

Certainly, the use of artificial intelligence can be of great support in optimising city design, and in drastically reducing energy consumption and environmental pollution.

Transport: use of AI in infrastructure projects

In the United Kingdom, the Mayor of London has developed a transport strategy which aims for 80% of journeys through London to be made on foot, by bicycle or by public transport before 2041. For the city to successfully achieve this target, it is essential to develop a comprehensive analysis of how and when people use existing transportation systems.

The road monitoring process has long been inefficient, time-consuming and expensive. Previously, it was only possible to collect data by counting manually, which provided a very limited and unreliable idea of ​​the complete picture. 

AI has offered very interesting opportunities to increase efficiency and analysis. It has allowed us to collect data without the need for human operators, making it possible to analyse large quantities of data 24 hours a day, and above all, it has facilitated the development of predictive analyses capable of greatly optimising processes in a number of areas. 

Extensive data provides city leaders with a clear view, allowing them to make the best decisions when it comes to where to target their investment and how to adapt transport infrastructure.

Transport for London recently launched an experiment to develop an overview of traffic and a series of analyses. Using artificial intelligence programs, scanners have a 98% accuracy rate in identifying the flows of vehicles and people through cities. 

Such advanced technology is of great support to London’s urban planners, who now redesign areas of the city with the existing traffic models in mind. They are therefore able to prioritise constructing cycle paths in roads used by a large number of cyclists, for example. In essence, funds are invested to improve areas where a real need has been identified thanks to AI technology.

When implementing artificial intelligence programs, attention to data protection and confidentiality is fundamental and increasingly relevant, especially in Europe. In the case presented above, Transport for London states that all the videos collected by their AI scanners are deleted in a few seconds and that no personal data is stored. To further develop the use of AI globally, it is important that methods of data privacy such as these are followed by companies in any sector.

Sustainable use of energy

AI can analyse historical data to predict the expected energy consumption of a building, district or even an entire city.  Predictive analysis allows energy suppliers to make informed decisions on where to allocate available power, helping them to better manage the peak and the daily or monthly trend. 

This has led to the development of the Aggregator Business Model used by energy providers to generate in-depth information on daily and monthly trends, allowing companies to make informed decisions on where to allocate power and manage peaks in usage. 

The aggregated pool can include generators and consumers operating in one or multiple electricity markets. As a result, they are not only saving valuable energy resources but the end cost to consumers is also reduced. Similar applications are possible for water too.

How healthcare can benefit

In the field of medicine, AI is able to facilitate remote medical analysis, assist in the development of predictive medicine and provide vital assistance in circumstances where doctors and nurses are unable to cope with the increased demand for services. Growth in the healthcare sector is already accelerating, with the number of AI startups focusing on healthcare increasing from less than 20 in 2012 to almost 70 in mid-2016.

In London, the National Health Service, NHS England, has recognised the vast potential of technology in managing already pressed services. They will soon set up an artificial intelligence laboratory in an attempt to provide improved research and assistance to patients. Meanwhile, in the United States, Accenture’s analysis predicts that artificial intelligence applications could save the health economy US $150 billion by 2026.

Change in mentality

Looking ahead, the combined use of Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology could generate the power to provide even smarter, cheaper and more effective solutions to global, inclusive and integrated challenges. However, a change in mentality is needed and a great deal of attention should be placed on the ethical value that AI can provide, from manual skills to predictive analyses.

The breadth and pace of change are unprecedented and the rise of technologies, primarily artificial intelligence, has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for millions of people.

The development of this technology must be guided by strong values ​​and principles, as this will inevitably influence the way it is subsequently applied and implemented, whether it is possible to improve people’s lives or the other way around. We cannot miss the opportunity to exploit these technologies for the benefit of humanity, and there are many ways to guarantee it.

Any technological evolution should be tackled with humanity in mind. By putting people at the heart of the continued development and improvement of AI, it is possible to develop decision-making and forecasting processes which integrate human creativity with AI innovations. These could be rolled out across continents, truly shaping our communities and providing the robust, future-proof cities essential to future generations.

Cristiano Radaelli
Chief Innovation Officer

This article was first published in Italian on AI4Business.it here.

E-POLI: access to public services made easy
6 May 2020

E-POLI: access to public services made easy

Residents of Turin, Italy, will test our newly-developed E-POLI Planet App feature, helping them access essential public services available in their area.

Between May and June, 1,600 residents of Turin will be offered simplified information and guidance on local and national services, such as applications for vouchers, care allowances, enrolment in nurseries, and assistance for the elderly or disabled, through the E-POLI Planet App feature. The all-round service will be rolled out for the month of June.

Created by our Digital Unit in collaboration with three community hubs in the region: San Salvario neighbourhood house, Public Baths of Via Agliè, and House in the Park in Mirafiori Sud, the new feature provides optimised information on essential services directly to beneficiaries, raising awareness and uptake of public support and services available to those most in need.

The feature has been specially designed to facilitate digital citizenship by making resources accessible to anyone, at any time, from any location, quickly and efficiently. It achieves this through improved management of large volumes of public services information, allowing applications and requests to be applied for through the digital feature. This should significantly reduce the time it takes for users to access important public services.

User-friendly information

In order to make the feature simple to use even for people who are not tech-savvy, up to date information is structured in the most user-friendly way possible. To help manage and organise information, a series of templates and video tutorials accessible via smartphone has been developed. 

For a better understanding of the services, documentation required to submit online applications can be easily found on the feature. Users are guided to verify their access requirements to opportunities offered by government, public and private bodies through simple questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’  answers. 

Online uploads are supported by short and simple videos that accompany and guide users step by step in the activity. 

In Italy, 26% of the population aged between 16 and 74 has never surfed the web, according to 2019 estimates by the Organisation for Trade and Economic Development. Of the 74% of the adult population who have accessed the internet, only 24% have used it to access public services. 

At present, vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, immigrants with low levels of linguistic skills, the disabled, and those with limited education, are unable to use IT tools to easily access important resources and information.

To achieve digital citizenship among all citizens, the issue of digital inclusion must be considered and overcome. By breaking down technological barriers and digital illiteracy through effective collaborations with local organisations, digital technology and services can be made more citizen-friendly and accessible to everyone.

Planet Institute: how our social arm in Brazil works
1 May 2020

Planet Institute: how our social arm in Brazil works

Benefitting more than 10,000 people since its foundation in 2016, the Planet Institute plays a key role in offering the local population free courses, cinema screenings and libraries in regions that lack such resources.

“Education does not transform the world. Education changes people. People change the world.”

The above phrase from Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator and philosopher considered one of the main thinkers of world pedagogy, reflects the main role of Planet Institute: empowering citizens to transform coexistence, making neighbourhoods and cities developed by Planet Smart City rich places for exchanging, learning and socioeconomic improvement.

To this end, the institute aims to generate positive social impact among residents of cities built by Planet, as well as the surrounding population. Its activities seek to create a harmonious city and an urban environment full of personal development opportunities for citizens.

How does it work?

Founded in 2016, Planet Institute is a non-profit institution which has already been part of the lives of over 10,000 people, including children, youth and adults. The activities are all free. The institute’s programme is developed around four key areas: education, art and culture, social inclusion and collaborative economy, and sports.

At our smart cities in Brazil, the institute provides free spaces open to the population, such as the library, cinema, sewing workshop and Library of Things, as well as free courses in digital empowerment, English, entrepreneurship and handicrafts. It also holds events, such as on Social Action Day in July 2019, when we brought together around 300 people at Smart City Laguna, offering a morning of free services including hairdressing, a health tent with physical evaluations, glycemia and pressure gauging, a handicraft workshop, and recreational games for children and adolescents.

All these spaces and activities are free and open to the residents of the smart cities, as well as those living in surrounding areas, with the goal of developing a sense of collaboration and belonging.

The library, for example, encourages reading, facilitates access to education and stimulates creativity. Currently, the Smart City Laguna library has more than 200 registered readers and a collection of more than 1,200 paradidactic, research, informative, fiction and educational books. Books can be easily borrowed with free library cards available in the Innovation Hub.

Laguna’s cinema has special cinema seats and screens HD films and Netflix series weekly, every Saturday. The facility can also be booked by groups or schools via telephone or email. Since 2017, the cinema has received more than 600 spectators who have watched films of various genres: action, adventure, children, documentary, animation, comedy, among others.

Every semester, new classes in digital empowerment, English, entrepreneurship and handicraft courses, new classes are opened. In Laguna, the Planet Institute is equipped with a technology laboratory with ten computers connected to the internet, offering training for young people in the region of São Gonçalo do Amarante, Ceará, Brazil. The courses have a modular format and address various themes for audiences with diverse knowledge and interests. In all, the Planet Institute has trained more than 400 people in Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte since its foundation.

The library, cinema and courses are great instruments for social inclusion, since the population of the surrounding region would not have access to these types of free services if it were not for Smart City Laguna. The region of São Gonçalo do Amarante offers no free English courses, no free cinema or film screenings, and the nearest public library is 25 kilometres away.
Supporting women’s entrepreneurship

The Planet Institute training centre is part of the Ela Pode programme by Rede Mulher Empreendedora Institute and is supported by Google. With a focus on training women from Smart City Laguna and Smart City Natal, in addition to residents of the surrounding region, the programme aims to promote qualifications and opportunities for economic development in the region.

Training takes place in partnership with NGOs, associations, municipal offices and schools, and women from the age of 16 can participate. The Planet Institute programme has already trained 225 women through Ela Pode between 2019 and 2020. One of them was Maria Monteiro, a resident of Massaranduba, a neighbourhood near Smart City Natal.

Maria found an opportunity to start over and gain a source of income after taking a Planet Institute handicraft course. Growing requests for accessories made with carnauba straw and fuxico have meant that the artisan now contributes to supporting her family.

With no fixed work since 2014, she ended up dedicating herself to these activities in a non-professional way. As she learned the new art, she shared her work on social networks and that’s when the first orders began to appear. Besides the bags, Maria has also produced sousplats and carpets, using techniques learned in the course. Looking ahead, she wants to continue participating in Smart City Natal workshops. Attentive to her future as an artisan of regional products, she soon intends to participate in the Planet Institute’s English course to help her communicate better with tourists.

People at the core of everything

All over the world, cities are becoming increasingly developed. With the help of technology, we can see countless changes in the services provided and the way they impact people’s daily lives. Inclusive smart cities, like the ones we have developed, are those that offer not only efficiency in services provided, but a higher quality of life for people. How? By putting people at the heart of everything.

From the moment each inhabitant actively participates in the social construction, maintenance and development of the city, a feeling of belonging is generated, as each inhabitant is responsible for the efficient functioning of the city. The same principle is true with the local residents who participate in our activities: they help to care for and protect the city, also increasing security within our projects.

The collaborative economy seeks to share ideas and services in order to develop social inclusion and make people more involved in the city’s activities. The Planet Institute also plays a fundamental role in achieving this.

A simple school visit to Planet’s inclusive smart cities can awaken dreams in children. The Innovation Hub, an important social innovation tool led by Planet Institute, is a place to discover new worlds and access spaces such as a library or a movie theatre, which many don’t have access to.

Exploring the new shows us that we are able to go beyond what our reality shows us. When a child reads a book in our library or watches a film in our cinema, they realise that they are able to dream out loud, that it is possible to be whatever they want, and that the world can be much better. May we never lose the enthusiasm of a child who believes they are the superhero of their own story.

Every night I go to sleep with new dreams and wake up planning ways to realise them. For me, dreaming is the basis of one’s happiness. Many times, people lose this ability or grow up thinking they have no right to dream. I want the Planet Institute to help people dream, and most importantly, I want it to provide the means for people to realise their dreams.

Susanna Marchionni
Co-founder, Brazil CEO and President of Planet Institute

Global perspective, local solutions
23 April 2020

Global perspective, local solutions

“Think globally, act locally” is a phrase used in many contexts, and it is particularly pertinent for affordable housing developers. The severe shortage of low-cost homes is a local issue playing out on a global stage. At its heart, the lack of quality housing for low-income families directly affects local communities.

However, with 1.6 billion people currently living in inadequate, unsafe or overcrowded housing*, this local impact is magnified on a national and global scale. This creates challenges for governments, businesses and multilateral institutions. In seeking to address these concerns, affordable housing developers require a dual perspective that unites international scale and insight with attention to unique community needs. 

Economies of scale

First and foremost, international businesses benefit from economies of scale. They can search across multiple markets around the globe for the best price and negotiate discounts on large contracts for materials and services. This principle is central to Planet’s work in Brazil, where scale allows us to deliver housing at an affordable price while providing residents with smart technologies and services to enhance their quality of life. At the world’s first affordable smart city, Smart City Laguna in Brazil, the scale of our project to build 1,800 homes was sufficient to establish a paving blocks factory onsite, providing savings up to 35% with respect to traditional of building materials procurement without self-production.

As well as delivering efficiency savings, a global perspective can help provide a better product by allowing international businesses to seek smart solutions in multiple markets. New hotspots for technology development are springing up around the world – from Campinas in Brazil to Bangalore in India. Companies with an international presence can engage all these high-tech hubs to find the latest solutions for building more efficiently and enhancing the quality of life in urban environments.   

Universal solutions

Global thinking is not just about finding the best solutions from around the world, but applying lessons learned in one market to challenges encountered in another. Understanding where communities on opposite sides of the world share similar circumstances can help developers deliver quick solutions to their residents’ most pressing needs. 

At Quartiere Giardino, our smart neighbourhood project in Milan, Planet helped regenerate the district by employing Community Managers to engage local people in enhancing community life. These managers were supported by the Planet App, which provides a forum for residents to communicate and organise community activities. The result of this engagement has been an increased sense of collective ownership on behalf of residents, paving the way for local people to take over from Community Managers while reducing mistrust and feelings of insecurity in the neighbourhood.

Our experience in Italy has informed our approach in Brazil. Community engagement is central to the design of the Planet’s projects in Smart City Natal, Laguna and Aquiraz, with Community Managers employed at each development. We have also adopted an open community approach, inviting residents of the surrounding community into the neighbourhood to enjoy free services such as libraries, cinemas and English classes. At Smart City Laguna, this approach has strengthened community cohesion and is a significant pull factor for growing the neighbourhood.

Community centric smart cities

At the same time international businesses enjoy the benefits of a global perspective, it is important they show sensitivity to unique local needs. A common criticism of smart cities is that they employ technology for technology’s sake. To provide a real increase in the quality of life of the residents, a developer needs to listen to local people and understand their unique priorities before using its international experience to address challenges. 

An existing solution may meet residents’ needs, or they may require a bespoke answer. Either way, the process begins with local people. This is why we talk to residents about their hopes, concerns and ideas for an affordable smart city. Combined with information gathered from Community Managers and data from the Planet App, we can ensure neighbourhoods continue to evolve in partnership with residents and according to their specific needs.

A dual aspect approach can be invaluable to affordable housing developers. Those who succeed at balancing these two views, global and local, will be able to deliver homes at a lower cost and higher quality while tailoring solutions to meet the specific needs of residents. International developers have the scale to help address the global issue of inadequate housing. Still, to be successful, they need to recognise that any solution has to be executed at a community level, catering to the unique priorities of local people.

Cristiano Radaelli
Chief Innovation Officer

*https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2017/10/affordable-housing-key-for-development-and-social-equality-un-says-on-world-habitat-day

Digital solutions to revolutionise community empowerment
15 April 2020

Digital solutions to revolutionise community empowerment

For Hope in the Dark, her acclaimed study of human responses to uncertainty, Rebecca Solnit collected testimony from a century of crises. Contrary to common assumptions, she found that, when facing adversity, “most people are calm, resourceful, altruistic, and creative”. Her observations have proved true for Covid-19.

While the pandemic forces us into isolation, imposed or voluntary, the gloom has been punctured by sparks of solidarity – a flaring of community engagement, volunteering and local organisation.

Around the world, we have seen a grassroots mobilisation to help those in need. In the US, restaurants have become community kitchens and groups organised to pick up shopping for elderly neighbours. Across the Atlantic, Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK, which supports responses to the virus, has registered nearly 3,000 local groups.

These hyperlocal movements are resourceful, agile and deliver solutions tailored to meet local needs. What they lack are the tools to optimise local mobilisation. Many rely on social media platforms, which, while accessible, are designed to connect like-minded people globally rather than reach everyone within a specific locality. They certainly do not provide for coordination between informal community groups, businesses and local authorities – an important avenue for allocating resources, scaling responses and ensuring the experience of those on the ground is reflected in policy decisions.

At the other end of the scale, top-down responses to the crisis swing from complacent to draconian. China contained the virus by forcibly confining people to home, while countries such as Israel and South Korea sparked privacy concerns through their tracking of interactions with infected individuals. Meanwhile, in Europe and the US, the virus was allowed to spread while policymakers delayed politically difficult decisions. Neither of these approaches provides an effective blueprint for crisis response. While one fails to protect citizens, the other risks violating rights and can be difficult to implement without forceful policing.

Harmonising top-down policies and grassroots organisation

The best responses to Covid-19 have harmonised top-down policies and grassroots organisation, with government and business providing platforms for action and innovation at a local level. In the UK, more than 700,000 volunteers for the National Health Service are being organised through GoodSAM – an app that, like many gig economy platforms, allows individuals to switch on their availability for delivering supplies to vulnerable people or driving discharged patients to their homes.

In Estonia, the government’s Hacking the Crisis programme brought together officials, businesses and individuals to rapidly launch a map to visualise Health Board data, a chatbot to answer queries on the virus and a website connecting local hospitals to volunteers with medical backgrounds. Perhaps the best example is Taiwan, where officials have kept the rate of infection to a fraction of that in the US or even highly-rated Singapore.

Coordinating public and private groups, the country has deployed a range of online services, including a sophisticated system for mapping and allocating rationed face masks developed by Digital Minister Audrey Tang and members of an online hacktivist chatroom. As Microsoft’s Jaron Lainer and E. Glen Weyl write in their analysis of the response, “by spreading participation in digital development broadly through society, Taiwan avoided both technocracy and technophobia, maintaining trust and the two-way flow of information”.

The importance of digital tools

Effective responses to the crisis have shown the value of an inclusive government and hinted at a more resilient model for managing our communities. So far, the process of co-creation between governments, businesses and individuals has involved pooling resources to deliver a country-wide response. However, this approach should be pushed further to establish a model of hyper localised community empowerment. Digital tools should be provided to communities to organise themselves, develop locally tailored solutions and get involved in the governance of their town or neighbourhood.

This new governance model requires open communication between local people and the organisations responsible for administrating neighbourhoods – be they government institutions or private businesses. Such solutions are already in use around the world, including in Planet Smart City’s developments in Italy and Brazil, where the Planet App provided to all residents serves as a local message board and interface for citizens and community managers.

Once established, this communication platform provides significant opportunities for optimising crisis response and elevating quality of life. For example, a popular solution for market vendors or bodega owners forced to close by Covid-19 has been to offer delivery services. This not only benefits local businesses, who are able to weather the economic storm, but also local people, who can access essential supplies without visiting overcrowded superstores or waiting for deliveries from overcapacity online grocery sites. While grassroots movements have largely been left to organise themselves, this is a missed opportunity for collaboration with local administrators.

By communicating with businesses, the administrator can not only establish an online platform allowing companies to advertise and coordinate their services locally but also to connect them with other people in the area to help deliver the service, such as van owners who may be able to loan their vehicles. Moreover, the administrator can collect feedback from residents and businesses on local infrastructure needed to improve the service, such as installing communal cold lockers for receiving groceries even when no-one is home.

A new governance model

By integrating this model into the day-to-day governance of our communities, we can unite grassroots community action with top-down resources, empowering local people to co-own the evolution of their neighbourhoods and helping administrators prioritise projects that maximise quality of life.

As Solnit wrote: “A disaster is a lot like a revolution when it comes to disruption and improvisation.” Pushed to their limits, countries around the world are pioneering new ways of coordinating local and national action. From this wave of innovation, we have an opportunity to empower communities, providing them with the tools to become more resilient in crises, more inclusive in their governance and more engaged in the determination of their future.

Alan Marcus
Chief Digital Strategy Officer 

Planet Smart City to build 1,000 smart affordable homes in Pune, India
9 April 2020

Planet Smart City to build 1,000 smart affordable homes in Pune, India

Following the recent launch of our smart advisory services in India, our real estate first project in the country is to enhance the Life Republic township with our technological expertise and social innovation programmes. We are confident our model of affordable smart cities will meet the demands of Indian people looking to improve their quality of life.  

The project is in partnership with leading BSE-listed Indian real estate developer, Kolte-Patil Developers Ltd, and work is expected to begin in Q3 2020. The development will comprise of circa 1,000 affordable apartments over an area of 21,000 square metres within the existing township. Planet will provide smart affordable homes by integrating modern functional design with environmental solutions and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. 

Residents will have access to a wide range of shared services, designed to improve quality of life and strengthen the community. These services will be powered by the free Planet App, through which residents can also control services in their smart homes, interact with the sharing economy and engage with each other to coordinate community activities.

Communal outdoor exercise class at Life Republic in Pune

Communal outdoor exercise class at Life Republic in Pune

With a growing population, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), India currently has one of the top five most pronounced housing shortages in the world and will need to build 25 million additional affordable housing units by 2030. The expansion into the Indian market supports Planet’s ambitious plans to develop 30 large-scale residential projects by the end of 2023, tackling one of the most pressing global issues. 

Giovanni Savio, Global CEO of Planet Smart City, said: “We are delighted to launch, in partnership with Kolte-Patil Developers Ltd (KPDL), a very innovative project, building the first smart development accessible for the aspirational housing market, in Pune. Thanks to our digital platform, we will integrate an array of services, offering superior quality for our residents. The relevance and the volumes of the Indian market are key for Planet’s mission. KPDL immediately understood our multi-disciplinary approach and our investment with them represents the best possible way to launch our real estate operations in India.” 

Gopal Sarda, Group CEO of Kolte-Patil Developers Ltd, said: “We are happy to partner with a global real estate developer like Planet Smart City. Another tie-up with a global brand allows us to benchmark our governance, operational excellence and product innovation standards. Life Republic, being our flagship integrated township project in Pune, continues to witness strong demand both in the launch as well as sustenance phase. The performance of project benefits from contemporary product offerings and best-in-class physical as well as social infrastructure.” 

How technology can help reduce food waste
29 March 2020

How technology can help reduce food waste

The agri-food sector has one of the highest social and environmental impacts and plays a key role in the sustainable development of the entire planet. Reducing food waste has become one of the most important challenges facing the world’s population today. According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), every year, almost a third of all food produced for human consumption – around 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted. Meanwhile, there are over 820 million people who still live in a state of poor nutrition. 

Halving global food waste per capita at a retail and consumer level and reducing food losses during production and supply chains are goals put in place by the United Nations in order to ensure sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Objective 12 of Agenda 2030, entitled “responsible consumption and production” targets producers, distributors, public administrations and social enterprises who are responsible for rebalancing the gap between food surplus and food need.

Today, technology plays a fundamental role in providing sustainable models and useful tools that help create increasingly effective and efficient ways of operating in different industries, including food management and waste. From apps that monitor expiry dates of different products in the refrigerator, to those which allow you to share excess food with others in the vicinity. 

Mirafiori does not waste

On the southern outskirts of Turin, Italy, lies a neighbourhood called Mirafiori Sud, best known as the location of the FIAT industrial car plant. Residents of the district are already enjoying access to the community’s services via the Planet App and in December 2019 they were the first ones to experience the new “Zero Waste” feature. 

For the initiative, we designed and developed a digital tool that provides organisations with a digital marketplace to report the availability of surplus food, make reservations and coordinate and monitor donations. 16 local organisations, 22 shops, 38.000 residents and 60 volunteers now participate in the programme. As a result, people living in Mirafiori are now able to take home surplus products essential to their livelihoods, that they would not have previously had access to.

Named “Mirafiori Non Spreca” (translated as “Mirafiori does not waste”), the service was brought to the district in partnership with Miravolante Community Association, Mirafiori Foundation, the Crescere Insieme Association, AICS Torino and Planet Smart City, with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo as part of the “Done for Good” campaign. 

Fresh food recovered

In just three months of operation, the tool has made it possible to recover around 350kg of fresh food, including fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. The network of Mirafiori Sud benefits from faster services thanks to the exchange and collaboration system, better communication between parties, and a central tool where donations can be monitored easily and efficiently. As a result, food waste has been reduced and an increasing amount of aid has been offered to families.

This experience confirms how the co-design of smart solutions with representatives of communities is important in creating more effective solutions. We have received positive feedback from the work that has been done so far, including several requests for the “Zero Waste” tool in other districts of Turin. We are currently optimising the tool so that it can manage new types of goods such as medicines, children’s toys and clothing. We then aim to make the tool available not only in Brazil but in future Planet Smart City communities as well. 

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of community support – we must invest in its long-term future now
26 March 2020

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of community support – we must invest in its long-term future now

Italy has been on lockdown since 9th March as the government grapples with the persistent spread of Covid-19. During this time, we have experienced a rapid transformation of our systems of support. Social media, expansive transport systems and the constant march of globalisation have encouraged us to look ever further afield for our relationships.

Friends, colleagues and family – we were able to build networks indifferent to geography. However, life under lockdown has shown us that these networks alone cannot provide the support we need in a crisis. Instead, we have relied on our neighbours, local businesses and community groups to keep us going.

For a long time, many of us have been satisfied to be outsiders in our own communities. We might say hello to our neighbours or visit the local shops, but we have had very little to do with the way our local community was designed, organised or improved. Now that the Italian government demands we become insiders again, we realise that the structures supporting community life need to be revitalised.

While many have shown considerable resourcefulness in outreach to neighbours and hasty development of local initiatives, the crisis has demonstrated a severe need to invest more effectively in our communities in order to be effective in crises like the one we are living now. Considerable action is needed so we can build resilience for the coming decades.

The importance of local coordination has been clearly illustrated by our ad hoc attempts to organise during the crisis. Like many other parts of the world, we have seen groups popping up online and in-person offering to buy groceries for the elderly and at-risk individuals.

In the towns and villages around Turin, local shop and market stall owners have united to promote emerging delivery services. Without the means to reach local people remotely, they have resorted to printing posters with a list of business phone numbers and plastered these around town.

The City Resilience Index (CRI), developed by Arup and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, is globally recognised for its research into how individuals, communities and systems adapt, survive and grow in the face of stress and shock.

The study has long respected the role these local examples of resourcefulness can play in a community’s long-term resilience. It points out that the ability of communities to “rapidly find different ways to achieve their goals or meet their needs during a shock… [is] instrumental to a city’s ability to restore the functionality of critical systems, potentially under severely constrained conditions”.

For the CRI, however, resourcefulness is about much more than ad hoc action – it means “investing in capacity to anticipate future conditions, set priorities and respond”. This kind of investment was missing before the restrictive measures were put in place. The current crisis is showing us exactly where work is needed.

Inclusive by design

We must begin by making inclusivity a fundamental principle of the way we structure and govern our communities. As the CRI notes, “addressing the shocks and stresses faced by one sector, location or community in isolation to others is an anathema to the notion of resilience”. On this point, the attempts of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) to set up remote schooling proves illustrative.

While our remote teaching systems began as an online service, this quickly caused issues for households with limited bandwidth or just one computer for multiple children. Conference call systems were enabled to reach out to more than 250 participants and live streaming lessons could be followed by up to 100,000 users simultaneously, but this solution was not inclusive enough.

Instead, a ‘lower-tech’ but more inclusive system has been rolled out, in which parents are sent presentations and lesson plans and can teach their children at a time that suits them. This simple idea has prevented children from being excluded from essential education but is hardly an optimal solution.

If we want to rapidly build solutions that can serve all local people in the case of a crisis, we need to re-engineer our communities to be inclusive by design. This means developing systems that bring local people into the decision-making process.

Whoever is responsible for managing a community – be it private developer or local council – should invest in communication platforms that allow citizens to coordinate with local businesses and government departments, giving them an opportunity to co-create solutions for governing where they live.

What’s more, these platforms should empower local people to organise and build their own community initiatives, increasing their capacity for resourcefulness when issues arise that require deep local knowledge for solutions.

Connecting physical and digital presences

At a local level, Community Managers for Planet Smart City in Italy have found this inclusive approach to community governance an effective platform through which to enhance local activity.

Where small businesses have begun offering home-delivery in the company’s neighbourhoods near Milan, a community message board, facilitated through the Planet App made available to all local people, has proved invaluable in promoting and coordinating services.

More than just a means to contact customers, the app is also providing a communication channel with the Community Managers, who are able to connect local businesses with other people in the area to help deliver the service, such as van owners who may be able to loan their vehicles.

A similar model is helping to support local food banks. The Community Managers use both their physical and digital presence to collect information on local needs and supply that data to the food banks to allow better targeting of resources.

What’s more, uniting real estate developers and citizens in the process of co-creation is helping identify future solutions. To enhance the ability of small businesses to provide delivery services, for example, Planet is now exploring the idea of community cool lockers, which would allow local vendors to fulfil orders even when recipients are away.

In Italy, the UK, US and around the world, the scramble to find local solutions in the face of Covid-19 has demonstrated in stark terms the need to retool our approach to community building.

Our experience has shown us that top-down crisis response can swing from overly draconian to woefully fragmented – neither of which provide optimally for the needs of local people. Instead, we should be laying the foundations for a model of inclusive decision making – one that engages communities and empowers them to develop solutions tailored to their needs.

To learn from this emergency, it is crucial to collect data so we can prepare for the future. In this direction, I praise the effort of the National Research Council in Italy who has launched an online survey to detect social changes in place, entitled “MSA-COVID19” (“Social Changes in Act-COVID19”).

While we wait for the results, we should be providing local people with tools for organisation and collective action in the knowledge that, when crises hit, it is communities on the front line. The current crisis has reminded us just how dependent we are on our neighbours – we must not forget them when it is over.

Graziella Roccella
Chief Research and Product Design Officer

Security: how we deal with one of the biggest concerns of our clients in Brazil
23 March 2020

Security: how we deal with one of the biggest concerns of our clients in Brazil

Brazil is ninth in the world ranking of violence, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organisation. In 2019, the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security reported there were 57,000 murders in the country – a 10.8% reduction compared to 2018, but still a very high and worrying number.

For years, Brazilian authorities have discussed ways to reduce violence, such as investing in intelligence and policies involving areas such as the prison system, information sharing, identification and punishment. The challenge is enormous, especially in a country of continental dimensions. An integrated approach which examines the origins of the problem and proposes practical and immediate solutions on several fronts is required.

For us at Planet, the issue of safety is a priority since it is one of our clients’ first questions. Is the city safe? Will my children have a place to play peacefully? Is it safe to come home at night? Will my family be protected? Our teams address these questions through a set of measures adopted in our projects.

Understanding the context

As we do in other parts of the world, one of our first tasks is to examine challenges in the context we operate in and then integrate solutions that are relevant to clients into our projects. Based on this, we believe that one of the determining factors for understanding the issue of violence in Brazil is undoubtedly social inequality and the concentration of income in the country.

A study released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reveals that the concentration of income increased in 2018, reinforcing the extreme social inequality in the country. The average monthly income of the wealthiest 1% population was almost 34 times higher than the poorest 50% in 2018. According to IBGE, the increased inequality reflects the lack of real minimum wage earnings in 2018, in addition to informality within the labour market.

Recent studies by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) shows that social inequality is among the most significant causes of violence among young people aged 15 to 24. There are many ways to solve such a challenge, but promoting the social inclusion of young people through education and employment are two lawful mechanisms of social ascension, which should be a priority for government and private initiatives.

Moreover, intelligent prevention and repression are the perfect formulae for public security policies around the world. A major security success story is in the United States, where the number of homicides in the city of New York fell 87% between 1990 and 2018. Among the factors leading to this impressive decline in violence is the over 35% increase in the number of police officers between 1990 and 2000, the use of technology with the deployment of video-monitoring cameras and the improvement of residents’ quality of life.

How we foster security at Planet

To promote security and offer our clients a peaceful environment at our projects in Brazil, we have adopted a set of intelligent solutions. By combining technological tools, urban planning and social inclusion programmes that involve residents and the population of the region, we can offer concrete ways of social advancement through education and professional training.

School children visiting the free Smart City Laguna library

School children visiting the free Smart City Laguna library

The intelligent solutions are already being adopted by Planet at Smart City Laguna and Smart City Natal, with positive results. Some examples:

Free courses

The Planet Institute promotes free courses for residents and the surrounding population of our smart cities. Courses include English, IT and entrepreneurship, as well as handicraft workshops and digital illustration, among others.

Founded in 2016, the Planet Institute has already benefited more than 6,000 people, such as Maria Monteiro, 38, who lives in a neighbourhood nearby to Smart City Natal. After doing a craft workshop promoted by the Institute that uses local and sustainable materials, Maria found the chance to start over and have a source of income, having lived without a fixed job since 2014.

Functional mix

The key to creating a balanced urban environment is to harmoniously distribute the presence of residential, commercial and business areas within the city. This allows for the constant presence of people, making the environment safer. It also ensures that citizens can easily find goods and services close to home.

Planned routes

Cities are designed in such a way to reduce traffic and accommodate adequate street widths. The central avenue is quite broad, the secondary streets favour flow between the areas and the tertiary streets inside the neighbourhoods stimulate low speeds to provide greater security.

Cul-de-sac streets

In free translation, this French expression means “dead-end street”. In Smart City Laguna, all residential streets are dead ends, but at the end of each one of them ‘return balloons’ have been built, forcing vehicles that need to return to slow down. This increases safety and reduces the risk of accidents.

Participatory safety

Residents remain in regular contact and monitor the entry of suspicious people and cars via groups created on the Planet App, which facilitates communication between them and generates a virtuous circle of participatory security.

Video monitoring system

The main public areas are monitored, and residents can follow everything live through the Planet App, a free application that works as the city’s control panel.

SOS button on the Planet App

If an emergency arises, users can press the SOS button on the Planet App, which immediately warns up to five saved emergency contacts. They are informed that the person needs help and can see their geolocation.

To conclude, it is increasingly evident that combating safety issues requires investment in education, technology and intelligence alongside the promotion of social inclusion and a sense of belonging. Our Competence Center in Italy continues to study new smart solutions to improve the safety and quality of life for our customers.

Susanna Marchionni
Co-founder and Brazil CEO

Real estate needs to rethink its relationship with communities
16 March 2020

Real estate needs to rethink its relationship with communities

Over the past two decades, the US has seen its industrial base shift away from traditional manufacturing and towards the tech sector.

For some, this has brought higher wages, elevated further by the substitution of pension plans for stock and stock options, driving huge payouts to employees, giving them massive spending power. However, for many other skilled workers – such as teachers, police officers, retail and restaurant employees – it has had the effect of making it increasingly difficult to afford a home in America’s major cities.

As millennials begin to enter the market having delayed purchasing a home in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, and baby boomers look to downsize as they reach retirement, the supply of affordable housing is under severe pressure. Even when we require developers to dedicate a percentage of their projects to affordable housing, which is never enough to meet demand, this intervention pushes them to increase the price of their other homes, driving the market ever higher.

This is a crisis, not just because of the growing divide between society’s haves and have-nots, but because we risk losing the heart of our cities – with people whose services are vital for communities to thrive, priced out to the most distant suburbs. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has found that a renter working 40 hours a week on minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the US. As house prices continue to rise at twice the rate of wage growth, the shortfall in affordable homes is only set to grow.

A new model is needed

While the situation appears desperate, the solution is not simply to build more and more homes as fast as possible. Previous experience has shown that cramming low-income families into huge districts of poor quality housing only leads to slumification and segregation. In the past, affordable districts have lacked the provision of basic services. You often find residents relying on the few small corner shops for their groceries and other basic needs. These small shops lack variety, buying power, and competition, meaning those with the least to spend are forced to pay a higher price for their daily essentials. Even when supermarkets are present, the quality of products is often lower, exacerbating issues of poor health and obesity. This is not only a major barrier to social mobility, but a missed opportunity for the US economy – a swath of the population willing to pay for services yet chronically underserved by businesses.

If we are to avoid slumification while overcoming the affordable housing crisis, we need a new model – one able to marry low-cost housing with a high quality of life and wealth of services. It may seem an impossible task – to raise quality and lower price – but it is achievable by retooling the way private businesses approach affordable housing to align profit with local prosperity.

A model already exists for this kind of rethink. In the healthcare sector, Kaiser Permanente combines an insurance plan with its own hospitals and clinics. Because each member pays a fixed amount for their plan, the business is incentivised to keep people out of hospital and healthy for the long-term, linking social outcomes to corporate profit. Kaiser generated US $2.5 billion of net income in 2018 while at the same time investing in community programmes focused on everything from obesity to safe housing.

Prioritising social benefit

A version of the Kaiser model could be realised in the real estate sector if developers embraced the growing preference for services over spaces. If developers plan and market their districts with an emphasis on public places and services rather than the current model of prioritising the size of private living spaces, then businesses’ capacity to generate sales and profit will be tied to their ability to maintain a thriving community.

For example, a family living in a small but well-built home with access to a park, to green spaces, a gym and shared tool facility known as a library of things, as well as digital services such as ride-sharing, free Wi-Fi and smart parking will enjoy a higher quality of life than one with a larger living space but no amenities. In this situation, the value of the home is based on the strength of community life, meaning if the developer wants to maximise profits it needs to prioritise social benefit.

Empowering residents

What’s more, since communities are at their strongest when residents feel they have a stake in the future of where they live, developers are incentivised to engage with residents and empower them to take responsibility for the evolution of their neighbourhood. This not only leads to districts that are better tailored to the specific needs of their residents but circumvents one of the key risks experienced with company towns. Once seen as the solution to affordable housing and accessible services, an area’s main employer would ensure its employees were provided with everything from housing to public spaces, schools and healthcare.

However, as we’ve seen in the Rust Belt, companies don’t exist forever and when the employers departed, employees lacked resources to plug the gap. In a model for real estate where developers are actively incentivised to empower residents, local people are provided with the means to organise, to make collective decisions and to work together on community solutions even if the company responsible for managing services in their neighbourhood disappears.

Involvement of the community in decision making will also allow developers to overcome the privacy and personal data stumbling blocks faced by many of today’s large digital platforms. While the likes of Google’s Sidewalk Labs have faced questions over their use of personal data, companies incentivised to engage residents will reap benefits from a collaborative approach to data usage.

For example, the developer may have data showing that a group of residents all leave home at a similar time and head in similar directions to work. The developer will openly present this data to the relevant residents, propose a solution in the form of shared transport services and build consensus from the individuals concerned. This model of engagement gives residents the assurance of data sovereignty, while generating benefits for the developer through a community that is invested in the success of new projects.

The shape of American society has changed beyond recognition over the last two decades, yet the real estate sector’s approach to affordable housing appears stuck in the 20th century. We need disruption of traditional models and practices to match the disruption experienced by people across the country. This transformation is not a case of charity – of compensating for government inaction – but rather an opportunity for developers to seize. It is a chance to align financial and social outcomes to both secure the long-term sustainability of the sector and support communities that are inclusive, collaborative and led by the people who live there.

Alan Marcus
Chief Digital Strategy Officer

Urban digitisation on a human scale
3 March 2020

Urban digitisation on a human scale

Over the past decade, a number of global trends have been driving deep-seated changes in the way people live around the world: the increasing urbanisation of the world’s populations; the introduction of artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT devices; environmental changes that require increasing attention in behaviour change and policy; population growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and the growing purchasing power of the middle classes in developing countries.

According to a report published by the United Nations in 2015, population growth combined with the gradual shift from rural to urban areas will add an additional 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050, reaching an urbanisation rate of 68% compared to 55% in 2015. The scale and pace of change is unprecedented. A new UN report presented in May 2019 predicts that almost 90% of the increase will take place in Asia and Africa.

By 2050, the urban populations of India, China and Nigeria will increase by 416, 255 and 189 million respectively. All these changes and challenges intersect in an area that is set to become increasingly important for our communities and the environment as time goes on: building the cities of the future. Whether it’s building new cities or redesigning current ones, people on all continents want to live in cities designed with the environment, sustainability, safety and quality of life in mind.

Centuries ago, the emergence and expansion of municipalities spurred the development of humanism and the renaissance. In the present age of artificial intelligence, the creation of sustainable housing solutions where communities are placed at the centre is fundamental to managing the social impact of changes we are experiencing which will take even deeper forms in the coming years. This means we must harness the power of technology to enrich and simplify the lives of tens of millions of people that require homes in high population growth countries, whilst improving services for those living in regenerated neighbourhoods in developed countries.

In future cities, digital infrastructure will enable the provision of new services to support community development, provide a green and sustainable environment and improve social inclusion and well-being of people. Today’s citizens are not only looking for spaces to live, but for those where services are available. Digital apps can be used to promote a higher level of environmental awareness – for example, we are now able to implement digital tools that allow residents to be aware of their energy consumption. By reviewing their consumption and how much they spend per day, residents are more likely to reduce their water and energy usage and switch off appliances remotely. This is the first step towards sustainable living.

In addition, artificial intelligence and big data can facilitate improved energy balance across a large number of homes. This information can be used to negotiate better contracts for residents, allowing them to save money and improve their daily life, whilst also facilitating the design of infrastructure and electricity networks sized according to real needs. Affordable housing supported by digital services is a very valuable solution to meet the needs of residents, while promoting a more environmentally conscious, inclusive and economically viable way of life for future generations.

Planet Smart City Innovation Hub
The German Design Council has awarded the 2019 Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture to the Planet Smart City Innovation Hub at Smart City Laguna – currently under construction in Ceará, Brazil. The development will house 25,000 people.

 

Technology can offer innovative solutions for both new cities built mainly in developing countries, as well as regeneration and renovation projects in developed neighbourhoods where new design concepts and technological solutions add immense value to the area and are widely appreciated by residents. Supporting social inclusion, overcoming illiteracy and bridging the digital divide is a very important goal that we must achieve in our society and in our future cities.

To conclude, cities supported by technological solutions focused on people’s needs are an important political project to be pursued. Our ability to positively change a community’s way of life by generating economic savings and fostering growth is a key challenge.

Cristiano Radaelli
Chief Innovation Officer

*Originally published in the innovation section of Nova newspaper, Italy.

Supporting people-focused smart cities at the World Urban Forum
14 February 2020

Supporting people-focused smart cities at the World Urban Forum

Image: Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, at the World Urban Forum 10

Setting the tone of this year’s World Urban Forum (WUF10) in Abu Dhabi were the words of Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat: “Digital technologies have the potential to serve people [and] improve public services and working conditions. But persistent digital divides remain, and the digital revolution must be directed and governed in a democratic and inclusive way.”

The world’s preeminent forum for policymakers, NGOs and businesses to discuss the challenges facing our cities, WUF10 chose a theme focused on “connecting culture and innovation”.

Among the halls of Abu Dhabi’s National Exhibition Centre, it was widely recognised that while there have been significant advances in technology, some are yet to deliver a higher quality of life for everyone in society. As Sharif pointed out, 50% of the world’s population is connected to the internet, but only 15% have access to affordable broadband.

Speaking at the launch of UN-Habitat’s new flagship programme – “People Focused Smart Cities” – Sharif emphasised that “digital technologies, depending on their use, can be a force that widens social gaps or reduces them”.

She warned that the smart cities field is “often too focused on top-down shiny new technology and not sufficiently grounded in the real needs of the cities and the people who live in them”. With that said, Sharif also set out a positive vision; one in which the latest innovations are deployed by developers and investors who listen to and meet the needs of local people.

With 1.6 billion people worldwide living in inadequate homes, the question of how the smart city model can benefit those on lower incomes by fusing with programmes such as affordable housing is now a growing priority for both developers and governments.

At Planet Smart City’s event – “How affordable neighbourhoods can be smart and innovative” – representatives from both the Asian and African development banks embraced the possibility of using digital platforms to engage city residents, connect them with affordable and efficient services, and give them a stronger voice in the development of their communities.

Similarly, officials from Nigeria, Angola, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan all expressed an interest in pursuing a smarter approach to affordable housing and community building in their countries. I have personally engaged with them and our concept has proved to be valuable for the authorities in these countries.

What is clear from all of these calls to action is that our cities will be the centre of a fundamental shift over the coming decade. The ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT), enabled by greater connectivity and soon, 5G, will allow urban planners not only to build public spaces like halls, parks and shops but to create digital linkages, connect individuals to their wider community, and transform their ability to interact with the local environment.

Private businesses have an important role to play in realising this vision. For too long, the real estate sector’s slow uptake of new technology and approaches to neighbourhood design have hampered its ability to build affordable housing, delivered with quality services.

Embracing innovations in planning, construction and IoT can chart a new path. Innovations in planning, digital modelling and construction present an opportunity to deliver homes at a lower cost, erasing the barrier of price versus quality for those on low incomes.

At the same time, developments in smart energy and water management provide a path for developers to lower the long-term cost of living for residents, while also reducing their impact on the planet. Ultimately, the digital realm opens new opportunities for developers and Community Managers to deliver cost-efficient services and engage residents in the evolution of their neighbourhoods.

UN-Habitat’s vision challenges policymakers and businesses. We need to stop seeing technology as exclusive to those with high incomes and recognise it as a key enabler of equality, sustainability and community life. Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 and urban areas are central to global development.

Our ability to deliver people-focused smart cities will determine whether we live as individuals in the cities of the future, divided by our access to wealth, services and technology, or if we enjoy all the benefits of a strong community enabled by new means of communication and collaboration.

Giovanni Savio
Co-founder and Global CEO

Planet Smart City expands its global reach with launch in India
10 February 2020

Planet Smart City expands its global reach with launch in India

Planet Smart City is expanding its worldwide capability with the launch of advisory services in India. Based in Pune, it will work with third-party real estate developers and government agencies to provide its unique offer for integrating smart solutions in the urban environment.

The move, announced at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, comes after a partnership has been agreed between Planet and Kolte-Patil Infratech, a Kolte-Patil Group company.

Planet will offer extensive research and implementation expertise to the subcontinent, providing its unique approach, based on superior infrastructure, urban planning, sustainability, technological solutions and social innovation programmes. These will be supported by the unrivalled services of the Planet App, Planet Smart City’s proprietary digital platform enabling residents to engage with each other and the neighbourhood around them.

The Company’s innovative proposition and expertise in consulting on smart solutions integration complements Kolte-Patil Infratech’s solid experience in the Indian market—a combination that promises to foster a strong innovative business offer. The new smart advisory venture will operate under the Planet Idea brand, the global advisory arm of Planet Smart City. Based at Kolte-Patil Infratech in Pune, the company will comprise an initial team of 15 experts, such as business developers, engineers, architects and digital innovators, who will work closely with Planet Smart City’s Competence Centre located in Turin, Italy.

India is experiencing rapid urbanisation and is increasingly recognised as a centre for technological innovation. Planet Smart City’s expertise positions it ideally to meet the needs of burgeoning city populations and their expectations for smarter services.

Read the press release

Planet Smart City to play key role at the tenth World Urban Forum
30 January 2020

Planet Smart City to play key role at the tenth World Urban Forum

Planet Smart City will share insights with delegates at the World Urban Forum (WUF) on the use of new technologies, intelligent urban planning and social innovation programmes to tackle the global affordable housing deficit and enhance quality of life. The experience draws from Planet’s unique approach to real estate development, which has been applied in Brazil, Italy and India.

WUF, convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, will take place from 8th to 13th February in Abu Dhabi—the first time an Arab country has hosted the event.

Planet has been chosen to run a key network building event at the forum entitled: “Places that matter: how affordable neighbourhoods can be smart and innovative creating communities that improve the quality of life of residents.” The event will take place on Sunday 9th February from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in Hall 3, Room 15 of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre. Planet’s team will be available throughout the forum at stand H9 25.

The event will feature contributions from leading experts such as Mohamed El Sioufi, current professor at Monash University, who spent almost two decades with UN-Habitat advising on settlements policy around the world, Francesca De Filippi, Director of the Research Centre on Habitat in the Global South (CRD-PVS) at Politecnico di Torino, and Francesca Medda, director of University College London’s Institute of Finance and Technology, which specialises in sustainable investment and urban infrastructure financing. They will be joined by Manoj Sharma, Chief of Urban Sector Group, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, at the Asian Development Bank and Amadou Oumarou, Director of Transport and Urban Development at the African Development Bank.

Read the press release

Planet Smart City establishes world-class international Scientific Committee
29 January 2020

Planet Smart City establishes world-class international Scientific Committee

Planet Smart City has brought together a multidisciplinary group of experts from around the world to form its Scientific Committee. The group of independent advisors will help pioneer an innovative approach to delivering high quality smart affordable housing, based on the latest academic research and cutting-edge technology.

The Committee will be chaired by Mohamed El Sioufi, an expert in urban planning who spent 20 years as senior advisor at the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, UN-Habitat, alongside consultant roles through the private sector in World Bank projects and various academic institutions.

In addition, Planet has secured the advice of Francesca Medda, director of University College London’s Institute of Finance and Technology, who specialises in digital finance and impact investment. Also joining the Committee is Francesca De Filippi, professor at Politecnico di Torino and Director of the Research Center on Habitat in the Global South (CRD-PVS).

The Committee will meet for the first time at UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi next month.

Read the press release

Planet Smart City completes latest fundraising taking total capital to €100m
14 January 2020

Planet Smart City completes latest fundraising taking total capital to €100m

Today we announced the completion of our latest round of capital fundraising. Planet has secured EU €24 million from existing and new investors, taking the total amount raised since the company’s inception to EU €100 million.

An innovative proptech company, Planet is disrupting the global affordable housing market through its unique proposition. Our business improves quality of life for residents and fosters communities by providing superior infrastructure, urban planning, sustainability and technological solutions, all supported by the Planet App.

Available to all residents, the app allows those who live within its communities to manage the smart solutions available in their area and facilitates social innovation programmes which take place in shared spaces and are deployed by experienced professionals, such as Community Managers.

The funds will be used to finance the company’s ambitious growth plans, which includes the launch of 30 large-scale residential projects by the end of 2023, with a milestone of eight projects launched by the end of 2020. In addition to supporting growth, the funds will be also used to further develop our digital platform through the creation of new services and experiences for its communities.

Read the press release

Why real estate must innovate to thrive
9 December 2019

Why real estate must innovate to thrive

Cars, telephones, personal computers: when we buy one of these everyday products, our expectations regarding levels of innovation compared to the models we already have are very high.

Take cars, for instance, for which an emphasis on technological innovations is more heavily stated than traditional features in advertising and press coverage. Large companies know that a technological approach is popular, so they create ever more refined products that stimulate demand.

By contrast, the same discussion does not take place when we buy a property. In real estate, the demand for innovation from consumers is almost non-existent and the market reflects this in the language it uses to market its products. And yet, the size and nature of the real estate sector suggest that it should be the first to ride the wave of technological evolution.

In the residential sector alone, worldwide annual turnover exceeds 3.5 trillion dollars, with more than 23 million new housing units being built, representing a market almost twice the size of that of the automotive industry.

Should we look at Italy, between investments in construction and spending on rents and brokerage services, real estate represents about one-fifth of Italian GDP, with real estate investments making up about 60% of the total assets of families (according to Bank of Italy data). In addition, a third of bank loans are either granted to families as mortgages or are loans to real estate companies.

Technological innovation could also help the industry overcome the crisis faced in recent years: between 2009 and 2011 in Italy, about 7,500 real estate companies have started bankruptcy proceedings. This represents roughly 23% of total bankruptcies.

Affordable homes
Our affordable homes and developments combine smart solutions integration with appealing designs.

 

Is today’s real estate industry able to offer innovative products capable of generating expectations similar to those that accompany the launch of smartphones and electric vehicles? The answer is yes.

Businesses specialising in research and development of innovative solutions and ways to integrate them into different types of real estate projects are evolving. The solutions, commonly classified under the smart city heading, are already being used to improve the quality of neighbourhoods, condominiums and homes.

If more prominent players built them into the products they offer, then the customer-facing aspect of the industry could be revolutionised and be translated into a greater and more well-informed appetite for smart districts, smart buildings and smart homes.

As it stands, we are on the cusp of an extraordinary opportunity to put this idea into practice and buyers and tenants are beginning to respond well to companies acknowledging it. Large global entities have already found this to be true. Amazon and Ikea, for example, are entering the real estate market by proposing prototypes of smart homes.

Planet Smart City is unique because we offer smart solutions in the context of affordable housing. Often seen as the preserve of the wealthy, we prove that innovative solutions can be integrated into large-scale, lower-cost real estate projects with the result of happier residents who benefit from the best that cutting-edge ideas of this kind can offer.

We have built our manifesto on the premise that the intrinsic advantages that smart solutions, including services, can provide to a community and that they should be made available to everyone, regardless of income level.

No solution can improve everyday life in isolation: it is necessary to integrate them into a system, which implies the need to radically change the way we design and build.

The variety of smart solutions available now – and in development for the immediate and more long-term future – is diverse and wide-ranging: free Wi-Fi, recharging stations for electric cars, smart meters, smart LED lighting, facial recognition cameras, smart locks, sensors, smart appliances, voice-activated assistants, super-fast internet and, more generally, the idea of an Internet of Things. Planet’s Competence Centre in Turin has already identified over two hundred smart solutions and is already integrating them into newly-constructed developments as well as urban regeneration projects in Italy and abroad.

No solution can improve everyday life in isolation: it is necessary to integrate them into a system, which implies the need to radically change the way we design and build. Real estate operators, therefore, need to use a research-based approach when choosing solutions and formulate intuitive ways for customers to access them – for example, through digital platforms and apps.

Planet App
Our Planet App offers a unique and practical way for users to access the integrated smart solutions network in our real estate developments.

 

The outcome of this evolution in real estate is not only an improvement in residents’ quality of life and increased environmental sustainability, generated by a reduction in energy consumption, for instance, but also net benefits for those who have to sell and manage homes, such as asset holders and construction companies. These innovations – in fact, even the most ambitious ones – can be quickly repaid through revaluation of the buildings and by making them more attractive to buyers and tenants, setting them apart from the high volume of competing properties on the market.

In order for the real estate sector to be competitive and anticipate customers’ needs, as well as have a net benefit on the quality of life of residents, it has to innovate and adapt. Establishing a new approach to technology – through making the best use of the smart city concept – is a vital stage in this process and presents great challenges, but also near-infinite opportunities.

Building upon what we have already achieved since our formation in 2015 – and on our track record of incorporating the best smart solutions into our developments – we are excited to embrace these possibilities and thrive.

Giovanni Savio
Co-founder and Global CEO

Why Community Managers matter to our neighbourhoods
27 November 2019

Why Community Managers matter to our neighbourhoods

The real estate sector is undergoing a transformation as buyers increasingly prioritise services over spaces. In this service-driven market, building a strong sense of community is an important asset; however, this is something traditional business models have struggled to achieve.

If we are to continue providing homebuyers with compelling places to live, we need to think not only about the physical structures we build but also the ways we can help residents connect with each other and empower them to enhance their own communities through convenience and services. This is where Community Managers, a traditional concept enhanced by mobile technology, can help both developers and residents.

The central function of a Community Manager is to work alongside residents, helping them settle in and collaborating with existing households to improve quality of life in their district through solutions to their everyday problems. This often means hitting the streets, organising local meetings, and engaging on a one-to-one basis to understand how residents’ lives can be made better.

With the aid of Planet Smart City’s Planet App, our Community Managers are now able to minimise administrative burdens and maximise their time working with residents.

The role of Community Managers

With the aid of mobile applications such as Planet Smart City’s Planet App, Community Managers are now able to minimise administrative burdens and maximise their time working with residents.

The Planet App, for example, allows residents to book community spaces and organise meetings online. This is not only good for the business, which gets greater productivity from its Community Managers, but for residents, who get more face-to-face time with someone specially trained to help improve their neighbourhoods and districts. 

Managers help to build community bonds
By running events that bring people together, our Managers help to build community bonds that grow outside of these contexts.

 

Why does this matter? Well, Community Managers serve as an important link between residents and developers, supporting a mutually positive ongoing relationship. Homeowners are able to settle more comfortably into the community and the continuous dialogue among residents helps foster a greater sense of belonging and security, even in areas with legacy issues such as an association with crime.

What’s more, residents who feel developers care about their lives are more likely to raise potential issues before they become points of confrontation, encouraging a collaborative approach to problem-solving. 

Case study in Italy

Planet has seen this in Quartiere Giardino, one of its projects in Turin, where one of the smart solutions implemented was the neighbourhood’s Library of Things. This resource is designed to help people borrow everyday items like ladders and power drills.

The spread-out nature of the neighbourhood would have made it difficult to use the service if it had been placed in a single location: it is a service that focuses on proximity because borrowing must be convenient, fast and simple.

This prompted our Community Manager, Elena Fabris, to work with residents and some local social organisations to come up with a different formula for the service. Thanks to the collaboration of some local retailers, who agreed to host objects in their stores, they opted for a decentralised system.

With no additional costs for the service, residents were able to loan various objects from multiple easy to reach places in the neighbourhood, while the retailers involved in the service benefitted from becoming more well-known in the community. 

Empowering residents

The successful transformation of Planet’s Library of Things is a perfect illustration of how much residents themselves can achieve in their neighbourhoods when united by a Community Manager.

In Smart City Laguna, one of our smart cities in Brazil, the Community Manager has been welcoming the first residents and is focused on working towards their needs while settling in a new district.

While Community Managers can act as a catalyst for community action, their goal over time is to empower residents to organise themselves and shape the neighbourhood to the priorities of those who live there, fostering community life that is both rich and self-supporting.

Brazilian residents
Our Brazilian residents also benefit from Community Managers, as seen through successes such as this craft workshop.

 

Meeting local needs

By engaging closely with residents, developers can ensure projects are tailored to the needs of local people and discover new ideas and approaches for different markets. This results in closer communities and happier residents while increasing the value of properties by making the area more desirable. In addition, a close relationship between community and developer can encourage residents to return to the same company or recommend it to their network. 

To meet the demands of today’s homebuyers, developers need to place people at the heart of their projects. While the latest technology can play an important role in our cities, this should come with an emphasis on how it can help bring communities together. By enhancing the role of the Community Manager, developers enable a positive force within their communities, transforming a buyer-seller relationship into a collaborative engagement.

This shift plays an integral role in helping developers make the right choices for their communities and empowering residents to come together for the good of their neighbourhoods. It helps residents feel safer and happier while ensuring we, the developer, enjoy the benefits of communities full of vitality and purpose. 

Alan Marcus
Chief Digital Strategy Officer

 

Ideas, innovation and influence: exploring the role of our world-first Competence Centre
19 November 2019

Ideas, innovation and influence: exploring the role of our world-first Competence Centre

From the very start of our existence in 2015, Planet Smart City’s team has been committed to shifting the paradigm around global real estate and affordable housing. Key to our ambitions is our Competence Centre, which is a central point for Planet’s operations worldwide and helms our partnerships with key partners and developers.

When the company was founded, our CEO, Gianni Savio, scoured the market for a company able to provide integrated smart solutions support, but he was unable to find one with the scope and ambition we needed. Because of this, he started the centre as an in-house research and development lab. Even now, it is the only institution of its kind in the world and, as such, is an invaluable asset.

The primary roles of the Competence Centre are to design the masterplans, smart solutions and optimisation processes for our projects worldwide and offer uniquely comprehensive consultancy services to third-party developers and local governments.

In order to do this, we have created our own methodology which consists of four key areas: planning and architecture, technological systems, social innovation and the environment. This includes digital services design, such as for our Planet App, which is as an interface for residents to interact with each other and with the smart city development they live in.

This ‘four pillars’ methodology was devised by us and allows our centre to approach challenges in an effective, well-rounded and unparalleled way.

SeiMilano project
We offer third-party consultancy services to developers worldwide, such as for the SeiMilano project in Milan, Italy

 

However, what it is that makes the Competence Centre a fully realised force for change, as well as an influential driver of cutting-edge smart solutions innovation, may not be immediately obvious. After all, the vast majority of companies work from offices or coworking spaces, with a high proportion of these splitting their team across countries or even continents, just as we do.

What makes us different is pulled from people and their brilliant, diverse experiences of what it means to tackle the global housing challenge worldwide, as opposed to bricks and mortar. It exists at the intersection of the different members of the Planet team, made up of architects, engineers, sociologists, communicators and mathematicians.

Our colleagues share a determination to stay at the vanguard of new concepts across construction, tech and social innovation, but each brings a different viewpoint and approach to problem-solving into play.

The Competence Centre is reliant on forward-thinking people and their willingness to innovate. In turn, they are able to use Planet’s reputation and willingness to work at the cutting-edge of the industry to explore their ideas and shine a spotlight on the best ones. In my opinion, this cooperative approach sets us apart from other organisations in the field.

Social innovation solutions
Social innovation solutions, such as our Smart City Laguna library, are one part of our ‘four pillars’ methodology

 

It also seems fair to state that the bulk of innovation in the real estate market is focused on technological development. Unlike our competitors, the Competence Centre’s approach is more multifaceted, stemming from the varied needs of the communities we work in and focused on putting solutions where they are best placed to maximise both infrastructure functionality and wellbeing.

Our integrated smart solutions programme is effective precisely because the Competence Centre formulates it from the ground up and across all four of the key areas discussed above. We also respect the role that thorough research plays in the work we carry out at the centre, which is data-driven, meticulously tested and intellectually rigorous.

By diligently staying at the forefront of the smart city concept, we are able to anticipate trends before they break into public knowledge and use logical tactics to separate futureproof innovations which will add value to our projects from unsustainable or weakly-realised ideas (which might seem interesting at first glance but not survive more sustained interrogation).

Planet works on a global scale and with global ambitions, but pull our strategies from local demands and cultural realities – after all, our aim is to provide affordable homes in countries where there is a need for them, not design smart developments that look impressive in theory but fail to consider that the households who live there need to feel comfortable and benefit from features that they will actually use.

As we grow, we plan to establish subsidiary Competence Centres in other countries so as to accurately reflect and interpret regional intelligence. Just as can be seen in Turin, these centres will provide evidence of the vibrancy and cutting-edge nature of the way we work and have already attracted interest from exciting minds from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.

Having a consistent presence on the ground allows us to have direct experience of the countries in which Planet works and thus understand more accurately the specifics of the local environment and adapt strategies accordingly.

Smart City Laguna
The work of the Competence Centre influences every aspect of our large-scale projects, such as Smart City Laguna

 

Our people-first approach is fundamental, not just for members of the team but for the residents and consumer base that we strive to advocate and provide for. As well as working on services and infrastructure for Planet’s own smart city developments, such as Smart City Laguna and Smart City Natal, we offer project consultancy services to leading local developers and government bodies, with a focus on municipality regeneration.

By centring our practice around the simple idea that people look to digital, architectural and social innovation services to improve their quality of life, we are able to integrate a wide range of smart solutions in the projects we work on that function as a considered whole.

We also constantly revise our strategies and smart solutions catalogue to locate holes in the market and respond to changing community demands. By striking what I know to be a best-in-class balance between practical demands and blue-sky thinking, the Competence Centre safeguards itself against the future, anticipating possible developments and new ideas, while crafting functional, integrated frameworks for our residents to call home.

I am immensely proud to work as part of a driving force for change that is as vital as our Competence Centre, with our place in the industry becoming more influential as we prove time and time again that our methodology works.

As we continue to grow and our world-first base in Italy transitions to being part of a network of centres, I am confident in the team’s ability to tackle creatively and with keen minds the challenges that the global housing crisis poses.

Cristiano Radaelli
Chief Innovation Officer

Planet is at Smart City Expo World Congress 2019
11 November 2019

Planet is at Smart City Expo World Congress 2019

From 19th to 21st November, we will be taking part in the world’s largest event for cities, the Smart City Expo World Congress. Describing its purpose as ‘to empower cities and collectivise urban innovation across the globe’, the expo features exhibitors from around the world, all of whom are leaders in the smart city and urban planning industries. 

The expo is held in Barcelona, which is a city with a consistent track record of capitalising on new technologies and concepts such as the Internet of Things and has been described by the Financial Times as having ‘a reputation for being at the forefront of urban technological innovation’.

We will be in attendance as part of the Italian pavilion, presenting Planet’s unique proposition through our stall with particular emphasis placed on the role of our digital services, such as the Planet App.

Having been recognised by Fortune Italia earlier this year as one of the 20 top start-ups in the country, Planet is looking forward to presenting our ideas and successes in the context of peers and fellow smart cities industry leaders.

This year’s event is centred around social inclusion and sustainability, concepts which we already place at the heart of our methodology and which are thus reflected in the smart solutions we offer.

More than twenty thousand participants passed through the doors of last year’s expo, so our presence represents an important opportunity for us to reach both market stakeholders and interested parties from the media and elsewhere. According to figures provided by Smart City Expo, 60% of attendees can be classed as decision-makers so we look forward to capitalising on subsequent networking opportunities

If you’d like to find out more about the Smart City Expo, or buy tickets, please click here. We’d love to see you at our stand, so please come along to find out more about who Planet are and what we plan to achieve in the future; we’re in Hall Two, at stand 117.

Planet Smart City strengthens digital strategy with appointment of Alan Marcus
8 November 2019

Planet Smart City strengthens digital strategy with appointment of Alan Marcus

Alan brings a wealth of experience using digitalisation to transform businesses and leading policy discussions on how societies can take advantage of the integration of technology into our day-to-day life.

He served as head of technology, media and digital at the World Economic Forum (WEF), sitting on the organisation’s executive committee and managing a US $55 million practice. Prior to his role at WEF, Alan worked as Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Symbol Technology, a Motorola company, driving the company’s expansion into new markets.

Alan will now leverage this experience to support Planet Smart City’s mission to provide smart affordable housing that places community-focused services at its heart. In particular, Alan will explore how data analytics can be used to enhance the lives of residents through more effective hyper-local services.

In his new role, he will look at ways to optimise the Planet App, the company’s free downloadable platform allowing residents to interact with everything in the smart neighbourhood.

Alan’s aim will be to use this innovative tool to boost community interaction and offer a more diverse set of services to local people and businesses. He will also use his expertise to identify further ways data analytics and digital technology can be used to drive valuable efficiencies in Planet’s development of affordable housing.

Read the press release

Planet Smart City appoints Chief Innovation Officer
24 October 2019

Planet Smart City appoints Chief Innovation Officer

Planet Smart City, the global leader in smart affordable housing, is pleased to announce the appointment of Cristiano Radaelli as Global Chief Innovation Officer and CEO of Planet Idea, the global Competence Centre based in Italy, which integrates Planet’s smart solutions across projects worldwide.

In his role, he will work closely with Planet’s global network of partners to develop new approaches to neighbourhood and districts, implementing smart solutions in Planet’s four core areas: architecture and planning, digital technologies, environment, and social innovation.

In addition, Cristiano will help optimise advisory projects of the Competence Centre across the whole smart value chain for real estate, which ultimately improve the lives of, and create long-lasting value for, each development’s residents.

Planet Smart City is known for its innovative approach to real estate and the appointment of its first Chief Innovation Officer showcases the business’s dedication to accelerating the creation, enhancement and integration of its leading services and solutions into the design of residential neighbourhoods that place both sustainability and community at their core.

Read the press release

 

How smart houses can make affordable homes
21 October 2019

How smart houses can make affordable homes

Among developers, officials, academics and architects, there is universal recognition of the challenges posed by the global housing demand.

The United Nations highlights that approximately 1.6 billion people currently live in inadequate, unsafe and overcrowded housing. From Milan to London to Brazil, we see the lack of quality affordable housing driving a cycle of poverty, fuelling inequality and destabilising communities.

When I discuss Planet Smart City’s commitment to addressing this issue through smart affordable housing, there is always interest coupled with variants on the same question: how can you make housing both smarter and more affordable? Surely smart solutions lead to more expensive homes?

There is no silver bullet or technological magic that suddenly makes everything cheaper; however, through intelligent planning, attention to detail in worker training and on-site processes and a shift towards increased digitalisation, this apparent paradox can be solved.

Efficiency savings

To make savings during the construction phase, developers must make efficiency a core tenet of their plans. Each home in Smart City Laguna was designed to be constructed using replicable processes.

When we developed the world’s first affordable smart city, Laguna, in northeast Brazil, we analysed every element of the supply chain to ensure we were sourcing, transporting and using materials in the most efficient way possible. We even built a factory on-site to cost-effectively produce the paving blocks we need for high-quality road surfaces throughout the smart city.

Although efficient planning is the foundation of an affordable project, the best plans in the world cannot overcome inefficient execution. This requires an investment in worker training.

For Laguna, we provided rigorous training to local workers, so they fully understood how the building site should operate, the processes involved in construction, and the timings for each stage of the project. The replicable processes used to build the houses meant that, for each home, workers could follow the same construction routine – saving both time and money.

Workers in blue overalls lay smart solutions pavement at a construction site.

 

In many ways, the efficiency savings for Smart City Laguna were limited by local requirements to use traditional materials and specific processes; however, in the future, increased digitalisation of the development process provides great potential for efficiency savings.

The increasing sophistication of business information management (BIM) systems will allow developers to create digital visualisations of their projects, down to every brick, screw and pipe. These systems will enable companies to plan the exact quantity of materials needed for each development, delivering both a financial benefit and conserving valuable environmental resources.

Digital transformation

What’s more, digitalisation will allow developers to better map every hill and valley of the landmarked for development, minimising earth-moving operations (i.e. costs and time) and working in greater harmony with the environment. The design and layout of houses, businesses and social spaces will be optimised thanks to data-enhanced planning, which factors in everything from orographical to geological details.

Once construction begins, developers can look to off-site construction methods as opportunities for additional cost and quality control. With these methods, parts of houses are built in specialised factories then transported to the site, giving businesses greater certainty over costs, timings and quality.

Moreover, the potential to deploy future smart solutions such as 3D printing in these factories further enhances efficiency benefits. As Planet Smart City looks to expand quickly, we are looking at all these solutions – from BIM to off-site construction – as we strive for improvements in every area of the smart real estate value chain.

Smart solutions

Finding solutions to the affordable housing global demand is a continuous learning process. At every stage of planning, construction, and maintenance, developers can find lessons about how to drive down costs, both through greater efficiency and the latest smart solutions.

Just look closely at the bustle of a construction site in full flow and you’ll see a thousand small changes that add up to a huge difference: a difference not only for businesses, which increase their margin on projects, but also future residents.

It is incumbent on developers to push ceaselessly for these efficiencies, not just because they present a better way to build houses, but because they can deliver affordability for the millions of people worldwide who want a place to call home.

Eugenio Montissori
Head of Construction

Laguna’s Innovation Hub wins architecture award
17 October 2019

Laguna’s Innovation Hub wins architecture award

The German Design Council has awarded its Iconic Awards 2019: Innovative Architecture prize to the Smart City Laguna Innovation Hub. Laguna is the world’s first inclusive smart city and is designed and built by Planet Smart City.

The international competition is held on an annual basis and recognises the most innovative architectural and design projects, with the awards ceremony taking place on 7th October at the Pinakothek der Moderne art gallery in Munich.

The Innovation Hub has a floor area of 1,000 square metres and is the social heart of Smart City Laguna, as well as a showroom for our technology and social innovation practices. It is a place where citizens, whether residents of Laguna or living in the wider region, can experiment with and learn about the smart solutions available in the city.

It is also home to Planet Institute’s library, cinema and free activities such as technology, English, entrepreneurship and craft courses. It has free WiFi and shared spaces that can be used for coworking, as well as being available for group events.

German Design Council

Founded in 1953 by the Bundestag, the German Design Council is one of the world’s leading centres for communication, design and brand knowledge. The organization currently has over 300 member companies with the mission to support and enhance the design experience in Germany’s economic sector.

Smart City Laguna

Designed to be home for 25,000 people, Smart City Laguna epitomises a new way of life: connected, sustainable and collaborative, with a focus on community relationships and resident wellbeing.

Built on a ​​330-hectare site and situated 20 minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Ceará state, the smart city is located in one of the fastest-growing regions in Brazil: the municipality of São Gonçalo do Amarante, 55 km from Fortaleza.

Due to its proximity to the world-class Pecém Port Complex, the region is experiencing a  significant economic upswing, as well as being a popular destination for tourists.

Planet Smart City is now a member of Design for All Europe
11 October 2019

Planet Smart City is now a member of Design for All Europe

In recognition of our aims and approach, Planet Smart City has been recognised as a member of the EIDD – Design for All Europe network. We are on board as a Member Organisation, which is the highest category of membership and means that Planet is recognised as wholly committed to the network’s wider aims and goals.

EIDD – Design for All Europe is a network of organisations in design-related fields who are committed to reflecting the central idea that, for designs to be truly functional, they must be accessible to everyone.

The organisation was founded in 1993 and has grown to be well-respected both in Europe and further afield as a leading advocate for disabled people and their right to not only access public and private spaces but to experience the world in a manner that is as free of obstacles as possible.

The philosophy of Design for All states that environments, products, services and interfaces work for everyone, regardless of age or ability and in all circumstances.

As Planet has made a conscious effort to integrate these principles into our projects from the ground up, our membership of EIDD – Design for All Europe is a natural fit and we look forward to not only sharing our ideas about making spaces more suited to disabled people with the wider network but to having access to the most innovative best practice solutions and being able to use this knowledge to inform our developments.

Whereas regulations surrounding accessibility are practised throughout much of Europe (including in Italy, where our Competence Centre is based), many governments in emerging countries have failed to ensure that protective legislation is widely enforced.

In spite of this, Planet has consistently made sure that residents of all abilities are considered when decisions are made for our large-scale Brazilian projects, Smart City Laguna and Smart City Natal. We have always felt that for a neighbourhood to be truly inclusive, then all of its residents must be able to enjoy and benefit from all of its features. 

While many of the organisations involved in EIDD – Design for All Europe are experts in designing objects or solutions, we specialise in creating places that matter where all aspects of a development are carefully integrated to work together. As real estate is not currently a category for members, we are recognised by the network as an ‘innovation centre’, which seems appropriate considering the key role of our Competence Centre in Planet’s processes

In time, we hope to assess which parts of Planet’s smart solutions catalogue can be described using the Design for All concept, and for Laguna – which as of now is our largest and most comprehensive smart city development – to be evaluated as a case study by EIDD. Although we are not currently working with any of the other members, a brief glance at the 34 organisations that we are now listed alongside reveals that there are many interesting and fruitful connections to be made.

EIDD – Design for All Europe works on concepts very similar to our own: that everyone has the fundamental right to safe, accessible products, services and systems and that all stakeholders must be taken into account when designing homes and communities.

It is testament to the strength of our proposition that our commitment to these ideas has been acknowledged by a body with the heritage of EIDD – Design for All Europe. As a member organisation, we will strive to make sure that what we do promotes and communicates this message, and – most importantly of all – achieves the highest level of accessibility and social inclusion possible.

Click here if you’d like to find out more about EIDD – Design for All Europe.

Graziella Roccella
Chief Research and Product Design Officer

Planet Smart City to expand operations in Brazil
17 September 2019

Planet Smart City to expand operations in Brazil

Planet Smart City, the global leader in smart affordable housing, is pleased to announce its partnership with Brazilian real-estate specialist InLoop and the subsequent development of more than 2,500 high-quality, low-cost apartments in São Paulo, the largest city in the Americas by population.

The innovative São Paulo development will be delivered through three projects, the first of which will be launched in 2020. All 2,500 homes will integrate modern and functional design as well as a wide range of services that aim to offer residents more quality of life and convenience, through shared services and other amenities.

The apartments will combine smart solutions across Planet Smart City’s four key areas: planning and architecture, technological systems, environment, and social innovation. Powered by the free Planet App, residents can manage energy consumption at home and keep informed with any local updates or community initiatives. Urban gardens, a library and other free shared space will also provide opportunities for locals to come and learn and live together, promoting a circular economy and improving quality of life for all.

Read the press release

Planet Smart City signs university partnership as it develops a global network to promote intelligent affordable neighbourhoods
6 August 2019

Planet Smart City signs university partnership as it develops a global network to promote intelligent affordable neighbourhoods

Planet has formed an international partnership with the Polytechnic University of Turin (PoliTo). The agreement is the most comprehensive of its kind for Planet which is developing a global network of partners to support innovative solutions for affordable urban living.

Under the agreement, the partners will collaborate on joint research and technology transfer to help develop new ideas in architecture, engineering and industrial design. It encompasses all the university’s departments and will involve international activities such as events and forums to promote scientific and technological solutions to the challenges facing cities globally.

The partnership with PoliTo is part of a broader network of collaborations initiated by Planet Smart City with various universities and research studies both national and European, including the Bocconi University of Milan and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia of Barcelona.

In addition to international projects, Planet will be able to contribute to educational development at the university by offering internships and training for students and researchers.

Read the press release

Planet launches its second smart city in Natal, Brazil
17 July 2019

Planet launches its second smart city in Natal, Brazil

Image for illustrative purposes only

Planet Smart City is launching its second smart city in the world: Smart City Natal. The 170-hectare development will home more than 15,000 people just 20km from the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, in São Gonçalo do Amarante, Brazil. The launch event will take part this Saturday, the 20th, from 8am to 5pm.

Planet Smart City has invested £27 million (R $140 million) to design and develop the city in partnership with Habitax, a city planning company, with a strong presence in Northeast Brazil. Planet began construction of the first phase of the development in March 2019 and by the end of the year is expecting to receive its first inhabitants.

Planet Smart City transforms the way affordable housing is delivered worldwide by integrating smart solutions and social innovation practices on large scale projects. The city is designed and developed with know-how developed by Planet, which integrates architectural, digital, environmental and social innovation solutions to deliver high-quality low-cost homes.

It is social because it focuses on people’s wellbeing and at the heart of every project is the vision to develop inclusive, harmonious and collaborative neighbourhoods. The city is constructed by optimising every element of the supply chain and applying smart solutions developed by Planet to ensure the homes are affordable.

Susanna Marchionni, CEO of Planet Smart City in Brazil commented: “Smart City Natal offers a mix of green spaces, residential, commercial and business hubs. Following on from the success of Smart City Laguna in Brazil, we are delighted to be increasing our global presence and developing further smart affordable neighbourhoods. Our cities are designed to be inclusive, autonomous and vibrant, so in addition to building affordable homes we have implemented a range of services including a library, cinema, free courses and other social activities which will encourage shared economics and a new way of living in a community.”

Natal residents will have access to the Planet App, best described as the ‘control panel’ of the smart city. Locals can download the application for free on Android or iOS versions. After registering, users have access to all city services, as well as contact with other residents, participation in projects and social activities.

Smart City Natal is located 8 kilometres from Governador Aluízio Alves International Airport, recently awarded Brazil’s best airport for up to five million passengers by the Ministry of Transport. Natal is the closest point in Brazil to Europe and one of the closest to North America.

Visit our Brazilian project website for more information.

Listening is key to place branding in Laguna
10 July 2019

Listening is key to place branding in Laguna

We recently travelled to five cities surrounding Smart City Laguna – Croatá, Pentecoste, Paracuru, São Gonçalo e Paraipaba – and talked to more than 1,000 residents to hear their hopes, concerns, ideas and discover what the cities of their dreams are.

Creating communities that are smart, sustainable and socially inclusive is at the heart of our mission here at Planet Smart City. We endeavour to create places that have heart and soul and can host vibrant and diverse communities, meet the changing needs of their residents and support their surrounding environments.

To meet these goals, we approach our project through the lens of place branding, putting the community right at the heart of the space in which it resides, from conception all the way through to completion. The aim of placemaking is to strengthen the connection between people and the places they share, to maximise shared value.

Place branding

This includes focusing in particular on the physical, cultural and social identities and values that define a place and inform its ongoing development. This aligns perfectly with the way we envisaged the creation of Smart City Laguna – we wanted to make sure the homes, shared places and public spaces would serve the needs and desires of each and every person who lived there.

To do this, we recently travelled to five cities surrounding Smart City Laguna – Croatá, Pentecoste, Paracuru, São Gonçalo e Paraipaba – and talked to local residents. In total, we spoke to more than 1,000 people to hear their hopes, concerns, ideas and discover what the cities of their dreams are. We gained insight into typical professions, working habits, recreational pursuits and everyday concerns to ensure we build the right infrastructure and tailor social innovation programs to meet their needs.

 

 

Among the key findings that came out of this research, there was a clear desire for every person to feel that they have a voice and are represented regardless of colour, income or social class. It led us to value even more how we can create an environment which is inclusive, collaborative and friendly. Somewhere which reflects the rich diversity of the people who call it home.

Conducted by Place for Us, a consultancy in Brazil, the work, which also involves placemaking, is guiding us in a number of ways reinforcing our community-building approach which is taking shape as we receive the first citizens in Laguna. Our Community Manager has been fundamental welcoming each family as they arrive ensuring a positive relationship is built from the outset. We are also creating a set of communication tools so they can have a voice and speak about their needs.

Biblioteca

Our Innovation Hub, an area where our residents and the surrounding community can come together has been redesigned into a more informal, welcoming style where each and everyone can feel at home and foster relationships as well as enjoy the functional space.

Going forward, we will continue to look forward to learning more about the communities where we build our cities and using this knowledge to inform our method every step of the way. We’re confident that this will enable us to create places that truly matter not only now, but well into the future.

Susanna Marchionni
Co-founder and Brazil CEO 

Planet Smart City completes group rebrand
3 July 2019

Planet Smart City completes group rebrand

Planet Smart City today announces a comprehensive rebrand of its corporate identity, website, logo and tagline to reflect its evolution and future vision.

As part of the rebrand, the Group, which previously operated under Planet Idea, Planet Holding Ltd and SG Desenvolvimento, will now communicate to stakeholders under a single name: Planet Smart City.

The rebrand also consists of a newly launched website, which will host corporate news and projects, details of its smart solutions catalogue, and insightful articles.

Read the press release

Reinventing Cities: Planet develops app for winning project
24 May 2019

Reinventing Cities: Planet develops app for winning project

Planet is part of INNESTO, the first carbon zero affordable housing project in Italy, which has been awarded in Oslo this week in the context of Reinventing Cities, a global competition for innovative carbon-free and resilient urban projects.

Located in Greco Breda, a former freight terminal in Milan, INNESTO is a zero-emission, collaborative and sustainable neighbourhood surrounded by greenery, community gardens and public spaces: a place where spaces are able to adapt over time to different needs and functions and where the focus is on the people who live there. A community food hub, urban gardens and residential areas make up a new Human Adaptive Zone which consists of spaces and services for the community.

The project has been developed by a team represented by Fondo Immobiliare Lombardia (FIL) managed by InvestireSGR with Fondazione Housing Sociale (FHS) as a strategic partner, Barreca & La Varra as architects and landscape designers, and Arup Italia as environmental and urban planning experts.

Planet has developed the neighbourhood app, dedicated to the district, that integrates innovative solutions. It will, for instance, monitor the energy consumption of individual homes, allowing residents to compare their results with their neighbours. This system features a loyalty rewards scheme which is based on virtuous behaviours.

The Planet App will be used to serve not only technological solutions but all services provided in the smart community. Planet also used the Social Smart City Matrix to ensure the selection of smart solutions were balanced in four key areas: architecture, environment, society, and technology.

Discover more

Planet Smart City is an adviser to REDO, the first smart affordable neighbourhood in Italy
21 May 2019

Planet Smart City is an adviser to REDO, the first smart affordable neighbourhood in Italy

Located in the Rogoredo-Santa Giulia neighbourhood, south-east of Milan’s downtown, REDO is a residential project which consists of 615 apartments offered in various models for either lease and for sale.

Planet Smart City provided smart engineering consulting for the project, integrating innovative solutions in four key areas: environment, architecture, technology and community. The project has been developed by The Lombardy Real Estate Fund, managed by InvestiRE SGR, whereas the Social Housing Foundation has provided social-welfare expertise.

REDO Milan’s buildings meet Class A energy standards and are connected to a district heating system and a fibre optic network. Residents will be able to monitor and manage energy consumption and other innovative services using the Planet App. The application also allows residents to reserve common areas that are dedicated to community initiatives, socialise with other inhabitants and learn about and take part in events organised in the neighbourhood.

“When we crossed paths with Planet Idea, we immediately realised that they were the right partner to accompany us in the concrete development of our ideas which we have gained through our experience developing more than 6,000 apartments over the last ten years and through listening to the needs of residents,” said Fabio Carlozzo, Managing Director of InvestiRE SGR.

“Planet has brought us a range of tangible smart solutions that together we have developed and integrated into REDO, making the project the vanguard of urban innovation in Milan.”

The area is an important transportation hub that includes high-speed trains, the M3 subway line, and many other surface lines. Apartments will be available to residents at the end of the year.

Discover more

Presentation of “Bergamo: the city of the future”
15 May 2019

Presentation of “Bergamo: the city of the future”

On Friday 10th May, “Bergamo: the city of the Future – the redevelopment of the Porta Sud railway station” was presented to the public.

Planet had the pleasure of working on this project with the Vitali Group, one of the leading Italian companies in the real estate sector, along with a strong multidisciplinary team.

The project calls for the construction of a large park which will connect the southern part of the city with its urban centre, effectively eliminating the barrier that the railway hub has created for inhabitants. The transformation of “Porta Sud” involves creating infrastructure that will improve urban connections while enhancing the functionality and aesthetics of the area.

Over the coming weeks the exhibition “Bergamo. the city of the future” will be open to the public. Visitors will be able to view details on the project, as well a video which showcases interviews with many of the actors involved in the development process.

Discover more

Planet Idea joins force with Audible
9 April 2019

Planet Idea joins force with Audible

Planet has started conversations with Amazon as a possible partner for future projects and the first collaboration between the two companies will be presented in Bari, Italy, on 12th April.

At the occasion, the audiobook by the Italian writer Gianrico Carofiglio will be presented and a video will be distributed via the augmented reality bracelet developed by Planet.

Planet Idea has collaborated in the development of the AudioStage App, which combines audiobooks and augmented reality to create a unique user experience.

The company also collaborates with important multi-utilities, OTT Companies and TelCo both in Italy and abroad, with the shared vision of building tomorrow’s life together.

“We are committed to working closely with key partners in various fields aiming at creating an ecosystem designed around the customer, through technology, digital transformation, sustainability and social innovation,” says Angelo Piazzolla, Chief Business Development Officer at Planet Idea.

View the press release

Planet at Milano Digital Week
12 March 2019

Planet at Milano Digital Week

Milan Digital Week is a 5-day event full of activities, events, conferences, and workshops centred around the vision of the city as a platform that coordinates all the forces, diversity, and interactions between individuals and communities.

Copernico Milano is dedicating the entire morning of 16th March to the SMART CITIZEN and new technologies that can help citizens get to know their cities more intimately while improving their quality of life. Planet is participating in the workshop titled “Smart Citizen: Startups and digital transformation in urban areas” beginning at 11 am. It will bring together a group of innovative startups that are working towards creating value-added services for urban areas.

Planet Idea’s smart city Competence Centre has developed a digital platform and an app that can govern the processes and services of an intelligent district. The digital platform is characterised by an Open API system which allows access by third-party companies, such as the startups that will be present at the workshop. They can develop services for citizens which address all aspects of the urban environment, for example, administration, training, economic activities, social welfare, mobility, security, sports, and leisure activities.

Admission is free, but participants are required to register here.

“Smart Citizen: Startups and digital transformation in urban areas” – 16th March 2019, 11am
Copernicus Central Milan – Viale Lunigiana corner via Copernico – Milan

Program

9.30 am | Registration
10 am | Smart Citizen: Open Data to understand and improve o