Smart City: How do Business Centers make our cities smarter?

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The development of remote work has led to the multiplication of Business Centers. According to the 2019 edition of the “Global Workspace Survey” published annually by IWG ( Regus), 62% of French companies surveyed say they have implemented a policy of “ flexible workspaces”, whether in the form of remote work or coworking.

At the same time, it is impossible to talk about remote work without recognizing the role of technology as a catalyst for smart mobility: employees can work outside their main offices, thanks to Wi-Fi and mobile devices such as smartphones, computers or tablets. Without these devices, workers would have to constantly return to their offices to send an email, talk to their colleagues, check a document or print it.

Business Centers tackle more than just the challenge of Smart Mobility

I must confess: the first title chosen for this article was “Business Centers Facing the Challenge of Smart Mobility”. But while searching for sources of information, I realized that it was not only tackling the challenge of Smart Mobility. Today, all mobility experts agree that Business Centers help to create Smart Cities. In building the perfect smart city, we must take into account all aspects of the life of its inhabitants. The workspace is one of these aspects.

As a reminder, the idea of a Smart City is based on these fundamental axes: smart economy, smart mobility, smart environment, smart people, smart life and, finally, smart governance.

In this article, I give you 6 examples that clearly illustrate how business centres help to create Smart Cities.

N.B: Below we showcase a majority of Belgian companies.

1. Smart Economy

It is a concept including both the present and the future because it refers to policies that stimulate innovation and creativity, combined with scientific research, advanced technology and respect for the environment through sustainable development.

Take Regus’ tenants lead a busy life; they are on the road and work long hours. Now they can trust Regus Israel, for instance, which has partnered with Powermat to provide wireless charging services in its offices. Regus & Powermat to charge their wireless smartphones seamlessly, even if they have forgotten their charger at home.

2. Smart Mobility

It is a new and revolutionary way of thinking our movements. A cleaner, safer and more efficient way. Read about: What is intelligent mobility?

Once again WeWork is facing up this challenge, this time by acquiring Waltz in June 2019.

Waltz’s smartphone application and reader allow users to enter different Business Centers with a single credential, making it easy to manage subscriptions for WeWork customers, such as GE Healthcare and Microsoft.

Moreover, Waltz is not only an alternative to keys or access cards. Its cloud management portal allows companies to know who is entering and leaving their buildings and also allows teams to define “user groups”, which limits the use of space to certain people.

Not to mention the fact that parking management is the core of the Mobility Management war. Whether your Business Center is large or small, close to public transport or not, efficient parking management can guarantee you serene and smooth accessibility for both your staff and tenants. Optimal management of your car park can also serve as a leverage to encourage modal shift among members of your community.

3. Smart Environment

This is the aspect of a Smart City regarding the control and monitoring of environmental factors such as pollution, waste, green space planning and energy.

With this in mind, Befimmo is launching Quatuor Building, a brand new project that will end in 2020. A passive building (solar panels on the roof and facades, rainwater recycling system, triple glazing and insulated walls).

The project is designed to ensure a high degree of flexibility in terms of occupancy. It meets the highest standards of quality, innovation and environmental performance. Befimmo aims for a BREEAM “Excellent/Outstanding” certification for this passive construction project.

4. Smart People

Smart People means: high level of qualification, attractiveness for lifelong learning, social and ethnic plurality, open mindedness, cosmopolitanism, flexibility, creativity, democracy and participation in public life.

In this term, Co.Station is organizing the second edition of its Smart Hackathon: Smart Buildings for Smart Cities.

The idea of this event is to co-create innovative solutions for the construction industry. With more than 80 other enthusiasts, participants bring their ideas to life by surrounding themselves with the best coaches, developers and designers in Belgium!

This Hackathon gives participants the opportunity to be exposed and work with a set of entrepreneurial and commercial tools, backed up by 15 coaches over 3 days. Co.Station guarantees that each participant will acquire new skills and live an unforgettable experience.

5. Smart Living

How can we improve educational and cultural facilities, tourist attractions, health conditions, housing quality and social cohesion?

Multiple examples illustrate how Business Centers promote the integration of individuals, their attachment to the group and their participation in social life. In these spaces, most members share the same values and lifestyles accepted by everyone.

Let us mention SilverSquare, which federates a global community bringing together Silversquare members from all over Belgium.

Startup fintech, cleaning company or even eco-friendly clothing brand are welcome in the various centres of this organization.

This principle of social cohesion allows less experienced people to work alongside fellow trend leaders, exchange ideas, establish partnerships and develop projects together.

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6. Smart Governance

This involves using technology to facilitate and support better planning and decision-making. It is about improving democratic processes and transforming the way public services are delivered.

In the field of intelligent governance, the English of The Rain Clouds have decided to dedicate their centre to startups and companies in the GovTech and CivTech sector.

Members make changes to public services, communications between government and the people, or to the very nature of democracy. This may involve selling services to the government or creating applications from government data, for instance.

Key players in the development of Smart City

Let’s conclude by reaffirming that Business Centers do not only offer a place of work to freelancers and remote workers. Thanks to their ability to create an ever-changing ecosystem that allows people to connect with each other, these spaces have become key players in the creation of smart cities.

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