KnowNow Cities for Engineers, Urban Designers and Architects

KnowNowCities LogoKnowNow Cities consistently strives to deliver smart places that meet the spirit of the five key Smart City Ingredients that KnowNow Cities has identified that are core to a smart place.  Be that a building, a campus, a district or even a whole city.

KnowNow Cities consulting provides for architects, urban designers, master planners and civil engineers a service that dovetails with their existing process’ and approach to projects.  KnowNow Cities have mapped the demands that a smart city technology infrastructure project requires into the RIBA Plan of Work.

What can you expect

This depends on when KnowNow Cities are engaged on a project.  Ideally as early as possible.   The advice KnowNow Cities gives clients is to consider our services when seeking advice on how a building, place or district want to use technology.  KnowNow can participate throughout the project lifecycle from concept phase through to fit out and beyond.

KnowNow Cities can help designers, engineers and architects identify firstly what does being ‘smart’ really mean.  How does this new being ‘smart’ then equate to specific the clients vision of how a place will be lived and worked in?  What does this then look like in terms of technology and digital stuff?  This answers key questions such as:   So what types of network connectivity is required where; what will then be connected to these networks; and what type of thing will this then do or enable for whom.

Where do you start?

The starting point as with any engineering project is client requirements.   KnowNow Cities deciphers the client vision and sets of requirements into tangible information technology components that can then be procured.

The next phase once those technology components are understood is to work out which ones go first.  Which are next and which are put on the future to do list.

Principles are Important

An important part of any smart city technology engagement is to understand the ‘principles’ of a place.  This is the starting point and then once these principles are agreed the building blocks of an enterprise architecture can then be formed.  The backstop for any smart city is adherence to standards.  An important early phase is to clarify which standards are applicable to the principles that place has defined.  A starting point for KnowNow Cities is the BSI Smart City Standards.,

Iterative Process

Creating a technology deployment blueprint and roadmap for a place is an iterative process.   This starts with client and stakeholder interviews.  Or harvesting existing output from earlier documented conversations.  The first set of  requirements gathering is to capture the clients vision for how that place should operate.   Where is the investment, what are the success factors and what are the outcomes that place wants to achieve (e.g. good air quality).

Note:  What is important is that technology aids urban design it should not lead urban design.

Technology Building Blocks Defined

This phase identifies and prioritises the various technology building blocks that will be required.  This is at a very high level.  Identifying where common requirements exist, where requirements clash and where stakeholder agreements are common and where stress or tension needs to be resolved.   This could be for example in requiring access to certain types of data.

The final part of this first phase is to gain agreement on the principles and standards of the smart city project and establish the governance mechanism for future architectural review and change management.

This phase will typically take between 2 to 12 weeks to complete depending on the maturity of the information already available and the quality of stakeholder engagement.

Creating your Blueprint

The second phase of the engagement is the creation of the actual concept technology architectures for that place.   KnowNow Cities use Enterprise Architecture techniques and methods to describe and capture the work products, tasks and technical/digital components required in a place to make it ‘smart’.

The starting point is to categorise the various different common requirements into common system descriptions.  The aim is to describe components or services in sufficient detail that could then be procured.

One of the iterative aspects of this phase is making the decision as to whether it is a product or a service that is to be procured.  Partly this is a reflection on current market trends/offers as well as technology capabilities to deliver.. e.g. clouds.

In terms of likely effort this depends on the number of categories that have been identified.  A rule of thumb is that each business process/area of outcome (set of use cases working together) will take between 5 day to 40 days to fully solution.    This will be an iterative process.

Note:  What is important to recognise in a smart city is the interdependency and interoperability that it requires leads to increased complexity.  A change in one component has a knock on impact for other components.   Hence why an Enterprise Architecture becomes invaluable. 

What next with your Blueprint?

Once the your smart place Technology Infrastructure Blueprint is created it can then be added to the standard build plan for that project/programme/development.    It is essential the technology infrastructure is deployed during a new build at the most opportune time.  This will maximise return on investment – for example when laying out the civil engineering infrastructure ensuring suitable ducting and space allocation is provided will be more cost effective if done right first time at the start of the build.

KnowNow Cities  can provide a number of different perspectives and views.   These could be roadmaps and Kanbans.

The blueprint will give the client confidence that the foundation technology infrastructure deployed will meet the clients vision. This relates to a key KnowNow Cities principle which is to: “Design for Tomorrow but Deliver for Today”.

Not all places are born smart..

Smart Places are not always new builds.  Most smart city developments will be a retrofit.  A benefit of the KnowNow Cities approach is that the same techniques can create a survey of the existing technology infrastructure in a place as one of the 1st deliverables.  Then by understanding the new services and technology infrastructure to be deployed it is possible to create a change impact assessment that a new smart place will have on the existing technology infrastructure.    This can help de-risk projects, secure planning permission or highlight where further investment is required thus guaranteeing the clients vision can be met.

An impact assessment and survey is a 5 day to multi-week engagement depending on the size of the place being surveyed and the requirements being assessed.

How do I work with KnowNow Cities

KnowNow Cities welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with civil engineers, architects or urban designers on client projects that are for new or existing smart city projects.

KnowNow Cities has a flexible engagement approach.  Be it on a retainer, by project or on a day-rate.  We offer competitive rates, are liability insured and are members of the City Standards Institute.

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