Dr William Wu, Founder of One4City And Innovation Insight Lead at Cisco On Eco City & Smart City Innovation

Dr William Wu, founder of One4City and Innovation Insight Lead at Cisco Innovation EMEAR, is the new guest in this interview series hosted by citiesabc founder Dinis Guarda. Both experts talk in-depth about trending topics in the eco city and smart city space, including new emerging technologies, the need for a holistic and international approach and collaboration between all players involved. Likewise, Dr William Wu tells us more about his new project, One4City, a comprehensive and evolving digital portal for a one-stop shop for UK Smart City solutions.

Interview Focus

1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…
2. Career highlights
3. Eco cities: history and definition
4. Eco cities: Urban planning and development
5. The Shift to Smart Cities
6. One4City Overview: vision, focus and goals
7. The main trends in tech for cities and society
8. 5G, AI, IoT & big data analytics in Smart Cities
9. With Covid-19 how can you look at this as a way to redesign our society
10. Future vision

Quotes and Highlights

· I started my career right after I finished my Master in the Imperial College London. I later did my PhD on eco cities.

· The concept of ecological sustainability cities as a central element for master planning cities.

· How to look at urbanisation and quality of lives – framework for cities, KPIs… carbon zero approaches.

· Green cities – eco cities all over the world – they put sustainability in the centre.

· About ecological cities. The traditional way to do city planning is to follow the rules: the land is defined by master plans. This piece of land is for industry, etc. What is different about ecological planning is taking a different approach and taking a holistic look at how things are planned to be focused on sustainability and social impact. Everything matters in this approach: from the layouts of the streets, buildings, common areas, etc. The foundational point is sustainability, everything is built around sustainability and sustainable development.

· To do so, we need to create new KPIs and approaches that take these sustainable goals as the centre. It is about processes and flows that are scalable and realistic.

· Building a green city doesn’t follow a linear plan but everything within development in the city has to be taken into consideration. It created a bit of confusion in the beginning as it made the city planning more complex but innovation and research is helping with the follow-up once the plans have been laid.

· There has been a shift from eco-cities to smart cities. 5 years ago eco-cities were the big buzz, now it is all about smart cities. Using sustainability as the main point, it makes city planning and follow-up development very difficult, almost impossible so that is why they have been shifting to smart cities. Smart cities also take sustainability and ecology as one of the foundations, but not the only one. They are still needed but smart cities are much broader than only creating sustainable cities. One reason is because focusing on technology, sustainability is easier achieved.

· As of now, there are ISO standards right now for smart cities. That standard is relatively new and there are many countries involved in creating that standard, including China, Canada or the UK. One of the main problems they face is extracting relevant data for what smart cities really mean. That is why we need benchmarks, projects as citiesabc to get that valuable data to create standards that can be applied everywhere in the world.

· Challenges: every city is different so their needs are also different. I found that smart cities are being built using different approaches across the world. In China, for example, the government is really ambitious. They don’t only want to build smart cities, but also building smart schools, hospitals, and almost in every important part of the city. It is more ambitious than in other countries. It is a holistic approach to building solutions.

· Other challenges: scalability. It is not only about building a system that works now but it can be upgraded and escalated in the future.

· Some of the pillars of smart cities are:

(1) AI & big data analytics for potato disease monitoring and prevention

(2) Digitisation of culture heritage & museum collections

(3) Integrated health & social care digital collaboration and service design

(4) 5G rural area investment and impact evaluation of precision farming and Agritech

(5) Footfall analytics and automated surveillance in in-door venues.

· One4City Project. We want to overcome these challenges, so we have created a vertical model that integrates all the solutions that have been deployed in different parts of the world through data, researches, technologies deployed, etc. We have taken those solutions and categorized them so they can be easily understood and provide valuable insights. What we ultimately want is to help and foster smart city business models in different places. In my opinion, what we want to provide is the benefits of doing so by giving evidence, facts.

· About China. The speed of the development in the Chinese market is faster than anywhere in the world. The chinese government is investing heavily in business solutions, technology adoptions, companies, etc. Anywhere else, fragmentation is one of the main differences between China and the rest of the world. Out of China, for example in the UK, most investment comes from the private sector so it is really hard to get investment for smart city solutions in rural areas because the return on investment always looks really low.

· Privacy and surveillance. Footfall analytics and automated surveillance in in-door venues. Surveillance is actually important for cities as it improves security throughout the cities and collects data to create patterns and data that can be used to protect the people in different ways.

· Digital privacy, differences between China and the world. Digital privacy is a huge issue. Europe’s GDP was a huge step forward towards that. There are red lines where technology can go and I believe that also technology can help also with that. In China, the approach to digital privacy is different given our history and traditional background. Today, technology is involved greatly in people’s lives. For example, there are restaurants that only take orders through apps. So people give away their privacy for convenience and the value that provides the digital transformation. Overall, people in China aren’t that concerned about digital privacy and one of the reasons is lack of literacy. China is still a developing country and smartphone widespread adoption only took place some years ago.

· COVID-19 has already changed everybody’s lives. Things that have brought the coronavirus pandemic is social distancing, remote working so it has transformed a bit our culture and businesses by breaking down walls. From my perspective and through our company, what we want is to create links between the UK, China and the rest of the world and using our platform to help cities and citizens.

· Healthy agent solutions and sector – solutions based on User experience.

· Final takeaway: start with small – design programs and ways to create a huge impact.

Dr William Wu biography

Dr William Wu is an innovative thinker and technology evangelist with 10+ year experience of leading, executing and managing innovation programs, engaging with public, private and academic stakeholders to accelerate new business opportunities. Founder of One4City and the Innovation Insight Lead at Cisco Innovation EMEAR. Dr William Wu has experience in delivering more than 20 multi-million digital & innovation projects across transport, energy, environment, healthcare & social care, agriculture, and pharmaceutical sectors. Experience of creating an incubation/ innovation centre from scratch. Focus on business model innovation, incubation, and early stage investment.

William Wu has an in-depth knowledge of smart city planning, autonomous vehicle test beds & HMI, precision farming, integrated health and social care, and urban resilience. Connected to wide networks across UK local governments, incumbents, SMEs and universities. He is the founder of One4City – a comprehensive and evolving digital portal for a one-stop shop for UK Smart City solutions, demonstrating realistic, significant potential especially for capitalising the expanding Chinese market.


https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-william-wu-98b68611/ https://www.imperial.ac.uk/business-school/research/innovation-and-entrepreneurship/ie-research/research-initiatives-and-themes/cisco-business-model-innovation/ https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William_Wu20