The answer to the productivity riddle is already here with data, tech and IoT
The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission has identified the three Cs – Congestion, Capacity and Carbon – as holding back UK productivity, writes Emanuele Angelidis, the chief executive of Breed Reply, who says it’s data that is at the heart of the UK’s productivity problem. Not enough companies and public sector organisations are effectively using data and technology to improve productivity.
Once organisations are collecting and correctly analysing data, combined with the right technology, huge advances in productivity can be made. It is the combination of data and tech which creates the Internet of Things. A network of physical devices such as smart meters embedded with software and sensors, exchanging data and acting on it. IoT’s impact on the three C’s could be extraordinary and it can happen today.
The good news is more data tools than ever are available. Specialist companies like Swansea-based WePredict can create analytics tools to help, for example, manufacturers predict when cars will break down or Iotic Labs, which can mash together data from multiple sources. This will be vital as part of the push to reduce carbon and improve productivity.
For example, to reduce the carbon footprint of a building and make it more productive, you need to be able to combine data from all the sources of energy consumption such as heating, lighting as well as map how people use the building. Once you have that, smart devices can begin to make decisions that reduce energy consumption such as resyncing the lifts or automatically turning off lights. Making buildings smart does not require much. Another start up, EnModus’ technology enables buildings to become smart using its existing cables.
Data is also vital in the battle against congestion. Anyone in London can see the roads are full. The solution is better traffic management. AppyParking is putting sensors in cities across the UK, which can navigate customers to parking spots, pay electronically and in the future, guide autonomous cars. Less time hunting for a spot, less congestion. Critically it gives councils data to create a detailed picture of what is going on to improve planning and reduces costs by removing the need for traffic wardens and parking meters.
Data and technology is also key to improve capacity. Look at the overstretched NHS where unnecessary trips to the GP or hospital can be reduced by putting diagnosis in the hands of the patient. Take for example, digestive problems. An Irish start up, FoodMarble has designed a personal digestive tracker, which can analyse breath, and identify the problem foods. Millions of working days saved and less full waiting rooms by changing people’s diet.
It is clear the technology to improve the UK’s productivity is at hand but all the companies discussed are not mainstream suppliers. Another runway will be great but more than anything UK businesses and public-sector organisations need to reach out to the UK’s tech sector for help and ideas. Data, tech and IoT needs to be at the top of the agenda.