Summits Yellow

How Does Mobile Fit into Future London?

Kirsty Styles

I've spent the day at Future London, a full-day event celebrating Britain's capital as a world-leading, future-forward city. Here's what some of the brightest and best from across London's biggest industries think about what's next for the capital.

Finance in Future London

First up was Eric van der Kleij, special advisor to the Canary Wharf Group, who gave an outline of the Level39 fintech (financial technology) space that will be opening in January at One Canada Square.

At 29,000 square feet, this accelerator will invite people to run innovative programmes that will ‘take the adversity of now and the challenges we are facing in the financial sector’ and use innovation to help improve things like transparency and the visibility of risk.

There is a sandbox area, rent-a-desk and drop-in membership – with prices revealed next week. Phase 2 will focus on retail tech for some of Canary Wharf's biggest brands.

Rahul Powar, head of mobile app development at Thomson Reuters, said that the future work of enterprises will be dominated by behaviour already seen from consumers.

In particular, he explained how powerful push notifications are in changing consumer behaviour. “How many of you launch Facebook as a result of getting a notification? We do this really badly in the enterprise sector. We don’t allow real-time, contextual information to go to mobile devices – but people could digest stuff and react to it quickly. It will change how people interact with information.”
Security in Future London

Facewatch was started as an initiative by a wine bar owner, Simon Gordon, who is now the company’s executive chairman, to stop his customers’ property being stolen. Facewatch enables people to quickly report crime to the police without having to speak to an officer and is both free to the public and free to businesses.

They have now created a Personal Crime Reporting app, which should be released in January, and have also created an app for the British Transport Police. “If we can prove it works in this country it will go global very quickly,” he said.

Society in Future London

Nigel Jacob spoke as co-founder of the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a 'civic innovation collaborator' where government, businesses, not-for-profits and citizens can use technology to solve community problems.

This hub enabled the mother of a 20-year-old autistic person to create an app, Technology for Autism Now, which has been tested in beta with the US Schools Department and is launching next year. Citizens Connect – a public service app for Boston's citizens – now sees 20 per cent of all service requests coming through it. It was then re-purposed into City Worker for the personnel completing public works.

Street Bump, which Jacob said takes ‘pot holes to the next level’ runs on your phone in the background collecting data. It gathers and sends information about bumps in the road to a server, where it is analysed.

A crowd-sourced challenge helped the team create an algorithm that understands the difference between a pothole and a manhole cover. “We are only beginning to get used to the idea of being a data donor – data captured in a public context to resolve of public good challenge.”

New Industrial London
C&A Brazil has digital hangers that tells you how many ‘likes’ on Facebook items of their clothing have had – “social commerce in the real world” said Matt Webb, CEO of BERG, makers of the first magazine for iPad.

His company has now created the BERG cloud, an OS for any connected device, like their own remotely controlled Little Printer. He also noted the Pebble E-Paper Watch that has a built-in app platform. The company raised funding on Kickstarter, going 'on-sale' six months before they manufactured it – making $10m and pre-selling 70,000 units.

Connecting London

Speaking about The Internet of Things - Connecting London, Usman Haque, director of the urban projects division of Cosm, said that M2M was now an old industry, what he now works on is how to ‘ get people to connect with each other through their devices’.

He mentioned the impressive way that different data sources were used to spread information about radiation after the Japanese nuclear disaster, including the Winds of Fukishima android app. He also saw people setting up SMS alerts so they could get information from their neighbours' Geiger counter.