Canary Wharf to trial smart city technology


Canary Wharf Group is set to pilot new technologies as the latest winners of the Cognicity Challenge are announced…

The Cognicity Challenge is a competition aimed at bringing smart city technologies to the Canary Wharf estate.

The three latest winners of the challenge are BlockDox, Puckily, and 3D Repo. Their technologies will be tested on the estate in an eight-week pilot.

The Cognicity Challenge is run out of the Level 39 startup accelerator at One Canada Square. The initiative aims to understand and respond to the needs of its residents and workers. The challenge considers six streams, each focused on a specific theme said to be critical to the development of smart cities.

Thirty-six finalists were selected for the challenge. They developed and enhanced their technologies through an intensive 12 week programme. They were supported by partners working on the Cognicity Challenge. One innovator from each stream will receive a £50,000 cash prize, as well as the opportunity to pilot their solutions in the ongoing development at Canary Wharf.

In the ‘Connected Homes’ stream, BlockDox and Puckily came in joint first place. They will share the cash prize. The two companies are also expected to collaborate on their pilot. The former created an app that enables residents to perform every day tasks such as organising repair work or contacting management, while the latter’s project connects devices around the home, which can be controlled remotely. It is hoped combining the two technologies will enable people to manage their homes more efficiently through connected devices.

3D Repo won in the ‘Virtual Design and Construction’ stream. The firm created an open source Building Information Modelling (BIM) platform. This will enable better collaboration on construction projects.

Winners in the other streams have already been announced. Among them is Polysolar, Voyage Control, SEaB Energy, and Demand Logic.

Eric Van der Kleij, head of Level39, said executives at the Canary Wharf Group had also decided to partner with other companies that came through the Cognicity Challenge, even though they didn’t win.

“Mentors have been working with the companies for 12 weeks now to help shape their solutions so they really are relevant,” added Van der Kleij.

“This is unlike any kind of procurement you would normally see. Canary Wharf is incentivised to tell them [the startups] the truth about how much the energy costs and how much waste we throw away so they can price and integrate correctly and create relevant opportunities.”

Ian Jones, the smart cities director at Intel UK, a Cognicity Challenge partner, said: “Data will play a central role in the cities of tomorrow, driving the innovations that these firms are developing.

“Teaming with the Cognicity Challenge means we can coach these entrepreneurs on the role of data, how they can protect it, and distil valuable insight from it, to create amazing impacts for the residents of smarter cities.”

The developer, Canary Wharf Group, said it hoped to showcase how smart buildings and digital equipment can create efficiencies in the management of cities.

The group is currently undertaking a significant expansion project that will see several residential skyscrapers built on the east of Canary Wharf. The area will be known as Wood Wharf.

Canary Wharf Group chairman Sir George Iacobescu added: “Collaborating with 36 startups has provided the opportunity to appraise our own processes and understanding of innovation in the smart cities arena, at the same time as helping shape their thinking and products.

“We are looking forward to the piloting phase and its outcomes.”


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