Ideas, innovation and influence: exploring the role of our world-first Competence Centre | Planet Smart City | Places that matter
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19/11/2019 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.

“Planet’s team is made up of architects, engineers, sociologists, communicators and mathematicians.”

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.

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, 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 around 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.

“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 the households who live there.”

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.

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.

“Our place in the industry is becoming more influential as we prove time and time again that our integrated methodology works.”

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
Global Chief of Innovation, Planet Smart City