There are some famous examples of public investment in technology leading to massive industry growth:

  • JFK’s announcement that the US would land a man on the moon indirectly led to the microelectronics explosion
  • CERN, the world’s largest particle accelerator project inadvertently led to the creation of the World Wide Web

Nowadays, government investment in technology is not driven by a charismatic leader with a grand vision. Instead, teams of economists analyse the return on investment for all major projects taking into account potential future tax revenues, social impacts and competitive global positioning.

Manchester's CityVerve consortium, the UK government’s flagship smart city IOT demonstrator, has the economists excited due to its triple-whammy of paybacks:

  1. Manchester - the selected city will make some immediate cost savings using Telensa’s smart street lighting and smart parking systems which will be integrated into Cisco’s City Data Platform and BT’s Data Hub.
  2. By proving the business case for new applications at scale the companies involved will be able to go out and sell a clear return on investment to other cities. This is key to accelerating the market and will lead to much faster job creation than would otherwise have been possible.
  3. By bringing together international companies to develop an integrated system the project will accelerate the development of open standards. This will drive much faster acceptance of technology and opportunities for the companies that adopt the standards to export solutions around the world.

Telensa delivers smart devices such as street light controllers, air quality monitors or parking sensors. However the thing that we actually sell is a business case usually in the form of a spreadsheet that shows the return on investment within a fixed time. CityVerve gives us the opportunity to develop a template for these business cases that can be presented in a standard form. Our hope is that cities will be able to view data in an accredited way so that suppliers cannot hide behind false commercial arguments or misleading technical claims.

Telensa’s standards-based Ultra Narrow Band technology gives us a lower cost base than all other solutions on the market. Our model is to deliver a single application based on a clear standalone payback. However, having made this investment, the city then has an IOT network for free. CityVerve gives us a great opportunity to show how this model extends to working with partners and other 3rd party applications bringing even more benefits to citizens and joy to the economists.