Bridging the Digital Divide, Big Data and Removing Siloed Operations

Dr Marco Macagnano is the Smart Cities Leader at Deloitte Consulting. Marco holds over 14 years of experience leading architectural design and project delivery across most sectors. We chat about his background and role at Deloitte, Africa’s Smartest Building, What a Smart City means in an African context, how we ensure everyone benefits and not just the few, key technologies that will emerge, Africa’s biggest challenge and his vision for the future.

Key Takeaways

The Smartest Building in Africa

  • Marco expands on his background, experience and role at Deloitte.
  • The Built Environment has changed. It’s a living element within a system that enable us to work better and live better.
  • Marco defines the definition of SMART and what it means for Deloitte.
  • Deloitte’s new head office for Africa at Waterfall City has been called the Smartest Building in Africa.
  • Marco explains what it’s like at their new HQ.
  • The space engages people and enables them to work better.
  • It’s a system that can think for itself based upon a platform for rapid scalability and data analytics.
  • It enables them to create a resilient environment, using data to their advantage.
  • The building analyses how it is occupied by as low as 30sqm, understanding behavioral characteristics.
  • It incorporates technology that shows density and can issue instructions if areas are too dense.
  • The building must continue to self-diagnose and learn to prepare for the future.
  • You can see what the waiting time at the canteen is and many more cool features.
  • Yet to unpack the depth that Deloitte can get to in understanding how the business operates.

’Smart City’ in an African context

  • No single definition. Must be approached as a design process.
  • Take a human centric approach, Marco explains how.
  • It is not about the technology you provide.
  • It about process, strategic frameworks and creating key interventions.
  • Start with the key infrastructure we have and create best use cases. How can we leverage data the best we can and allow for future scalability?
  • Marco explains the top down design approach for smarter cities.
  • The importance of socio economic development and culture in African cities.
  • Create an engagement platform that allows for introduction of data from various sources to disseminate and understand information.
  • Need to take a long term view if African c ties want to succeed as smarter cities.
  • The technology stack.

Ensuring smarter, sustainable cities include all citisens and do not only benefit the few?

  • To solve a problem you need to understand that problem.
  • Important not to jump ahead to the solution or technology, we must understand the success factors to create the right conditions for something to be implemented successfully
  • We need deep stakeholder engagement.
  • Marco talks about international examples we can learn from.

Key technologies that will emerge

  • Problem with big data. There are more IoT devices in the world than human beings.
  • Marco unpacks examples of cloud computing, edge based computing devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.
  • Digital Twins: The ability to create a digital version of the reality, enabling you to see in real time the impact of certain changes and the downstream impacts of it.
  • Allows for scenario planning. Marco explains examples of the use of Digital Twins.

Biggest challenge Africa must overcome

  • Digital Divide, access to internet is becoming a human right.
  • Marco talks about initiatives looking to solve the problem in a very short timeframe
  • As more people have access to information we can include them in engagement
  • Access to information will add to quality of life of citisens

Marco’s vision for future cities

  • Very positive outlook!
  • It’s inevitable that cities become an open source environment.
  • Currently data exist in siloes.
  • In the future there will be better sharing of data between public and private sector. Marco explains the benefits and examples.

Stakeholder Collaboration

  • Collectively we are stronger.
  • Reinvention of our concept of what constitutes as Intellectual Property of data.
  • The more we can share information the more we can create a system of active support.
  • Removing siloed operations
  • Municipalities should define smart city policy that include standardisation of information sharing protocols. Incentivising private sector and other stakeholders for information sharing so that we can all collectively win.

About Marco Macagnano

Smart Real Estate and Smart Cities Leader at Deloitte Consulting SA, providing management consulting and strategic solutions for smart buildings and cities in the digital age. Smart buildings leverage end-to-end IoT solutions in design, delivery and operations to create value from data allowing for responsive and connected built environments. Advantages are offered in dynamic and adaptive design, asset management, technology strategy and new era revenue generation.

Award winner: Building Design and Construction (BD+C) 40 Under 40 2018 in the category of Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC).

Marco holds over 14 years of experience leading architectural design and project delivery across most sectors (retail, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, urban design, mixed-use design, residential) with specialised expertise in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Sustainable Development.

Marco is a Director of the Green Building Council of South Africa, and a member of the advisory board to the University of Pretoria Dept. of Architecture.

His Doctorate (2018) focused on evolving Built Environment processes and products to adapt to Industry 4.0 and create agile, smart and sustainable built environments. This research established a revised model for sustainable development and an integrated system-design methodology for the built environment in the Information Age.

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