Living PlanIT and the development of the "PlanIT Urban Operating System™": the geographies of an innovation
European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (Euricur) & Department of Urban, Port and Transport Economics (RHV b.v.), Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Inês Plácido Santos
Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), Coimbra.
Centre for Geographical Studies & Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon
This case study explores the development of the PlanIT OS and PlanIT Urban Operating System™ (PlanIT UOS or UOS), a complex middleware platform designed to link a city's sub-systems (e.g. built environment, safety & security, communications, energy, water, waste, mobility), harmonizing resource flows towards manifold efficiency gains thus enabling creation of urban environments that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The chapter explores the spatial and organizational context of the proponent company – the "born global" emerging company Living PlanIT SA, currently headquartered in Switzerland but also based in the North of Portugal, England, the United States and China – paying attention to the geographies underlying their operations. Despite the codification of the core technology, the chapter illustrates how the interaction with different milieus provided (and keeps providing) unique resources for the technology's development, commercialization and societal legitimation.
Over the last decades, the emphasis on "green" or "sustainability" has grown in the policy agenda of many cities worldwide (BETSILL and BULKELY, 2007). Beyond the environmental and pollution concerns of the 1980s, the current discourse tends to place a stronger focus on issues such as climate change, energy use, resource waste and the several inefficiencies that could be curbed only if cities used the available resources in a more efficient and integrated way. At a global scale, such concerns proliferated as the world´s urbanization rates increased and urban settlements multiply in fast-growing economies.
Although not a panacea, it has long been recognized that technology solutions can contribute towards more sustainable and resource-efficient cities (CAMAGNI et al., 1998). In line with it, a notion that has gained relevance in policy spheres is the one of "smart city" (e.g. THE ECONOMIST, 2010): places where one or more urban sub-systems (e.g. built environment, safety & security, communications, energy, water, waste, mobility) are coordinated through the use of ICTs, towards better provision and increased efficiency in resource utilization1. City administrations – and their "sustainability" agendas – became increasingly interested in the development of such solutions; and so did transnational IT corporations (e.g. Siemens, Cisco, IBM), that have been developing many (yet partial) IT solutions to tackle urban efficiency challenges, both in old urban environments and in newly built cities and districts "from scratch" (CARVALHO, 2011).
This chapter focuses on a "sustainable innovation", promising to transform the field of urban technology solutions by integrating diverse smart city / Internet of Things innovations into one single platform – the PlanIT Urban Operating System™ (hereupon PlanIT UOSTM or UOS). The UOS processes real-time information collected through sensors embedded in a city's buildings and infrastructure, and additionally data from a myriad of mobile devices and city hardware, then analyzes those data flows, and thereafter actuates reactions accordingly (e.g. adjusting energy supply, distribution and storage according to people flows in a city) towards energy savings and manifold efficiency gains. Moreover, the collected information and data streams can be used to improve infrastructure's features and performance over time. It has been developed by a "born-global"2 emerging company called Living PlanIT SA (hereupon PlanIT), whose proponents are a diverse group of highly experienced entrepreneurs, with long professional careers, originating from different parts of the world.
PlanIT chose the North of Portugal to settle numerous team members and to develop a visionary "city-from-scratch" test-bed called PlanIT Valley™, but other world-scattered milieus have also been essential for the development and scaling up of the PlanIT UOS. This makes this case study an interesting arena to explore the geographies of a sustainability-related innovation, as well as the reasons and mechanisms underlying such geographies in a context of hyper-mobility and transnational organization of innovation. By doing so, we contribute to shedding light on the relations between sustainability, innovation and the territorialization of economic activity.
This case study is based on a large array of secondary data about PlanIT and the PlanIT UOS (reports, press-releases, international media coverage, web discussion forums, and personal communications), collected and analyzed during 2011 and early 2012. Moreover, it also draws from 10 in-depth and semi-structured interviews, conducted during the same period with PlanIT founders and executive managers (face-to-face in Portugal and the Netherlands; one Skype call to London) as well as 4 other involved discussions with partners in the North of Portugal (regional government representatives and consultants) and Lisbon (partner company).
The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 contextualizes the story of PlanIT, the notion of sustainability associated with the innovation and the company's business model. Section 3 explores the geographies underlying the development of the PlanIT UOS and the operations of PlanIT; to do so it uses an innovation system framework under which different locations and milieus are associated with functions that holistically support the innovation under analysis. Section 4 concludes and provides insight on the hypothesis of the overall research project.
1Naturally, "smart city" is a very large conceptual container, with highly porous boundaries. Here we are referring to a narrower definition more closely related with its initial "IT" formulation, associated with the use of ICTs to improve and optimize service provision and resource utilization in cities, leaving the conceptual discussion out of the scope of this chapter.
2Contrarily to companies that internationalize at later stages of development, a "born global" company is a "[n]ew venture that acts to satisfy a global niche from day one" (TANEV, 2012). Frequent characteristics of born-global companies are their technological drive, reliance of large ecosystems of partner organizations, limited financial and tangible resources, development of differentiated design and distinctive products (small for large firms), superior quality, highly connected and internationally oriented managers and, naturally, high activity in international markets.
Steve Lewis is the Founder and former CEO of Living PlanIT.
Formerly with Microsoft Corporation, where Steve served as General Manager of Market Development and Co-Chair of the Microsoft Business Development Forum, Steve was responsible for understanding key market trends and developments to identify their strategic implications for Microsoft and the industry. He also led the company's strategic business development opportunities leveraging Microsoft's portfolio of technology, research & development, services, marketing, distribution, partner ecosystem and investment capital.
Before Microsoft, Steve spent a few years raising capital for technology investments, mergers and acquisitions and participated on the boards of early through late stage development companies. He served as General Manager of the Lotus Messaging and Collaboration division of IBM Corporation, having previously held key executive positions in areas of business development, product strategy, management, marketing, engineering and sales.
Steve frequently delivers the keynote address at industry events. He is actively involved in promoting entrepreneurship, science & technology in education, including lectures at many leading Universities. He chaired the European Business Plan of the Year Award 2010 & 2011, became World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneer in 2012, won Frost & Sullivan's Growth Innovation Leadership award for Smart Cities and IAIR's CEO of the Year Award in 2015. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Richard Constant is the Executive Chairman of Living PlanIT, driving the next phase of growth that the company faces. He brings over 40 years of experience in various fields as he has been advising governments and corporate clients around the world on high profile financial, corporate and public affairs & communications strategies for over 25 years. His transactional experience involves over 200 M&A situations and 100 IPOs and equity offerings. Previously Richard was Chairman and CEO of Gavin Anderson & Co (2000 - 2009).
In 1973 Richard was commissioned in the British Army. After a number of operational tours he was appointed to the Chief of the General Staff's Office. In 1986 he joined Flemings' Investment Banking, as Head of Marketing in London and New York.
In 1991 he joined Gavin Anderson & Company, where he was the Managing Director before becoming CEO Worldwide in 2001. In this role he led the firm's international expansion in Europe, Asia, incl. China and Japan, and the Americas.
He advised Governments, incl. Japan (Tsunami crisis), Portugal (Eurozone crisis), Abu Dhabi and Qatar (development of financial centers). He has farming interests in Kenya and serves in non-executive positions in farming and tourism organizations there, as well as working with wildlife organizations. He is Vice Chairman global of Reputation.com Inc., and Chairman of Bara Kali Ltd. (mining), Samburumburu Ltd. (Tourism agriculture) and a Trustee of Help for Heroes. He has served on the boards of Austin Reed Plc. (Retail) and Defense Technology Enterprise Ltd. and Fibropower Ltd. (Renewable Energies).
EVP, Research & Development
Peter Van Manen
Peter is Executive Vice President at Living PlanIT, leading Engineering. He is responsible for the development and support of the products and platforms created by the company, including the highly acclaimed PlanIT Urban Operating System (UOS). He is also responsible for the core applications and for UOS development tools used by 3rd party developers, the service and support and for PlanIT Labs, the R&D group focusing on advanced digital and biological systems. Peter has been on the Board of Living PlanIT since 2008.
Prior to joining Living PlanIT, Peter was Vice President of McLaren Applied Technologies and, before that, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems. He was responsible for the development, production, deployment and support of control and data systems for the professional motorsport, high performance automotive and aerospace markets. Under his leadership the company won and retained contracts to supply standard engine control units (ECUs) to all competitors in Formula One, NASCAR and IndyCar, the three biggest motor racing series in the world. The company also won two Queen's Award for Enterprise, for innovation and international trade, under his leadership.
Peter has worked for many years in high-impact industries that demand high levels of performance, reliability and safety. He has worked on making: trains faster in underground coal mines; heavy-haul iron ore trains more robust in undulating terrain; long-overland conveyors quieter; and detecting deterioration early in critically-ill children in acute care.
Peter is Australian and has also UK citizenship. He has two degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is a chartered engineer.
EVP & Treasurer
Harley has been appointed to the Living PlanIT Board of Directors and will now head up Living PlanIT's PlanIT Valley business unit. He brings his great expertise in working with leading finance and insurance institutions, manufacturers and mall operators on significant financing instruments including debt instruments, bonds, letters and lines of credit, and lease negotiations to PlanIT Valley. Over the past 7 years he has held the positions of CFO, most recently the companies COO & Treasurer. He continues his role as Treasurer.
Harley is an entrepreneur who has managed and founded multiple businesses with expertise in the financing of residential and commercial real estate development projects including mixed use, business, manufacturing, apartment and single family properties. In 1984 he co-founded The Acumen Group, a residential and commercial finance company specializing in residential mortgage backed securities and commercial brokerage finance. Harley later founded and managed TFO Inc., which was an owner and operator of retail stores and shopping malls.
Harley began his financial career consulting for the advertising industry on US and foreign currencies.
Harley is a graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with honors, with majors in both International Business and Finance. He was also a varsity letterman in rowing and a former crew coach.
Chief Financial Officer
Dieter Launer is the Chief Financial Officer of Living PlanIT. He joined Living PlanIT from Microsoft Switzerland, where he was the CFO. Before that he was the Managing Director for Finance and Delivery at Atos Origin Schweiz AG, where he led changes in the business model, financial operations and the organization.
Previously he held various senior management positions in finance in the software industry, at Novartis (post-merger Sandoz/Ciba) and at a family business. He also co-founded in 1995 an Internet access provider in Switzerland.
Dieter aligns business and finance by creating transparency in the numbers and providing accredited business insights to drive growth. He has led organizational changes from concept to implementation in finance organizations to increase efficiency and focus in supporting business functions.
Dieter graduated from University of Augsburg with a MBA in Business Administration, focusing on Finance and Auditing. Post-graduate he was an assistant teacher of Business Administration at the University of Bayreuth.
VP, Head of Corporate Development
Dan is Vice President, Head of Corporate Development, responsible for building and leading strategic corporate development building corporate level strategic partnerships and alliances including design wins, strategic partners and investors, managing the company deals pipeline and participating in the assessment of target markets.
Dan chairs the independent UK smart city trade association SmarterUK, bringing together stakeholders from across sectors, championing smart city development within the UK and helping to shape the strategic policy environment for smart city solutions.
Before joining Living PlanIT, Dan was a British Member of Parliament serving on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and the Science & Technology Select Committee. He has strong expertise in energy, environment and clean tech policy, serving on the Parliamentary Bill Committee for the Energy Act 2013 and chairing a number of high profile All Party Parliamentary Groups.
Dan was the founding Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Smart Cities Group and a member of the UK Government Ministerial Smart City Forum. Prior to Parliament Dan trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the British Army for nine years. After that, Dan served on the board of a National Health Service Trust as a non-executive director. He was the youngest member of the board.
Dan has a Joint Honours Bachelors Degree in Economics & Management Studies and a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. He holds two Guinness World Records for skiing to the Magnetic North Pole and crossing the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in a wooden rowing boat.
Chief Technology Officer
John Stenlake, previously the Worldwide Automotive Technologist for Microsoft Corporate and Chief Architect for Ford Motor Company, is the Chief Technology Officer for Living PlanIT, providing corporate leadership for our continued innovation and use of technology. John has personally led the architecture, design, development, and initial deployments of the award-winning PlanIT Urban Operating System for over more than 5 years.
John has more than 30 years' experience in Information Technology development, management, strategy, implementation, and consulting.
Prior to joining Living PlanIT, John worked for Microsoft Corporation for 6 years, the last 3 of which were spent as the Director of Technology Strategy for the Automotive Vertical worldwide. John worked closely with multiple Microsoft product groups in order to ensure that the right offerings are brought to the Automotive market, as well as working closely with select customers on advanced vehicle and IT projects.
Prior roles inside Microsoft also include CTO, Manufacturing in the US, and Senior Architect in the Manufacturing Industry Architecture Team for Microsoft Consulting Services. In these roles John consulted with multiple customers on enterprise application architecture and strategy, and in particular drove messaging, uptake and deployment of Service Oriented Architecture.
Before joining Microsoft, John spent twenty years with Ford Motor Company both in Europe and in the US. John's team led the development and deployment of Enterprise Architecture within Ford.
John holds Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Mathematics from Oxford University in the UK and has been recognized as a Member of the British Computer Society and also as a Chartered Engineer. He has also received charter member certification as a Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect (MCSA).
Nuno manages the Biologicial Systems Department and runs a team of scientists. Nuno is a senior executive with verifiable year-after-year success in achieving revenue, profits and business growth objectives within start-up, turnaround, and rapid-changing environments. He has extensive experience with highly engineered systems, which require deep understanding of critical business drivers in multiple markets and industries. He led and motivated worldwide teams in various disciplines including sustainable energy programs, integrated water strategies, biosensors, carbon converter and bio-generators.
Nuno has been with Living PlanIT since 2008 and developed several integrated and intelligent solutions that incorporate the smart city framework such as Waste to Resources, sustainable water strategies, mobility strategies, energy strategies, infrastructure strategies, microbial communications, bacteriabots, advanced biofuels, biosensors strategies, Urban Microbiome strategies and machine learning using support vector machine.
Before joining Living PlanIT Nuno was the Technical Director at CEIIA (Excellence Engineering Center), after leaving Tate & Lyle where he was the production and maintenance director for 5 years. He started his career in the defense sector where he led several Innovation and R&D projects, always focusing on innovation, quality, applicability, maintainability and performance, while also managing multi-disciplinary teams.
He holds a Degree in Production Engineering with honors from the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, Portugal.
Chief Data Scientist
Oliver brings to the team research interests spanning resilience engineering, system identification, optimal control theory, evolutionary multi-objective optimization, exploratory data analyses, virtual reality visualization for hyperspaces, multi-criterion decision-making, and high performance computing. This includes research in collaboration with institutes in tackling “wicked" problems using machine learning, evolutionary multi-objective optimization, data mining and statistical and graph-based algorithms designed to analyze massive data sets.
He has academic qualifications in Resource & Environmental Management and Systems Engineering from the Australian National University with 21 years of research experience. Oliver has worked for different research institutes and government departments throughout his career mainly in areas that span policy and science.
Following completion of his PhD at the Australian National University, he maintained positions in various Governmental and Educational institutions including the Victorian State Government, Australia, the Australian Federal Government and the Australian National University as Senior Scientist and Research Fellow. Oliver’s activities won him the Australia Day Award in 1999 and Outstanding Service Award in Policy Development for the East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement in 1997 and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umea.
During his time as a Science Leader at Scion, he won a Scion, Sustainable Design Award in 2012, New Zealand, and in 2013, the Wiley Practice Prize for the best paper describing a real-life application of multiple criteria decision making. His last position before joining Living PlanIT was as a Research Associate Professor for Michigan State University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
VP Legal & Corporate Affairs
Johanna is Vice President Legal and Corporate affairs and joined the Living PlanIT team as a partner responsible for law, corporate affairs, communications, program management. She is also currently responsible for Human Resources.
Prior to Living PlanIT, Johanna worked at various law firms specializing in domestic relations, criminal and real estate law including litigation.
Johanna has a broad liberal arts background in areas including anthropology, sociology, philosophy and communications and graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors.
Fluent in English, Italian, French and Slovak.
Chief Network Architect
Andrew is the Chief Network Architect at Living PlanIT, working on solutions that integrate the PlanIT OS and other Living PlanIT products into solutions that address the various markets and verticals.
Andrew has over 20 years' of technology experience and leadership in the Information Technology and Network Services industry and has headed up the design and delivery of major Living PlanIT projects. Andrew has a strong background in Software Development, Network Design, Change Control, Operations, Management, Support and Network Service provision.
Prior to joining Living PlanIT, Andrew was CTO at XOU Solutions, an original source "Software as a Service" company that he founded delivering truly agent-less IT and Networking Asset identification and management software to ISP's, Managed Service Providers, and Global Enterprises allowing customers to be compliant with software licensing agreements and maintenance programs including Cisco Shared Support.
Before XOU Solutions, Andrew enjoyed a successful career in the design, installation, operation, and management of ISP and next generation service networks for the likes of UUNET, KPN Telecom, Unipalm PIPEX and QoS Networks.
VP Corporate Development
Prior to joining Living PlanIT Keith accumulated over 30 years business experience in both the IT and environmental/sustainability industries primarily focused in the sales and marketing arena in developing and managing customer and partner relationships.
In his years working as an IT industry professional Keith managed relationships with blue chip clients and partners within complex infrastructure software and service environments in business sectors including: messaging migration; directory management; virtual classroom and on-line learning platforms at organisations including Lotus Development, IBM, Worldtalk, Centra Software and SkillSoft.
Most recently Keith was a founding Director of L'atelier Limited, an environmental consultancy assisting commercial clients to manage and reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Keith was responsible for the development of the sales and marketing strategy for the business, establishing key relationships with property developers, building owners and occupiers.
Keith brings a unique combination of experience and business skills from these two sectors into his role within the Living PlanIT business development and management team.
VP, Head of PMO
Bernd is responsible as Head of PMO for coordinating the project management function at the corporate level of the company with the objective of ensuring that the PMO functions across the business units are aligned and add value to the Rhythm of Business of the company. He works closely with the COO on all aspects of the company's organization and strategy of continuous improvement. He works closely with the COO to introduce efficient systems that enhance all operations and make the company fit for purpose and sustainable.
Bernd has 20 years of business experience in management consulting and program management, leading change within major international companies across a series of industries, with a special focus on organization, sales & marketing and IT.
Bernd joined Living PlanIT from Capgemini where he served as Managing Consultant, Worldwide Automotive Industry. Bernd was responsible for establishing, driving and coordinating the overall strategic direction for change, communication, and project management. He had a leadership role to catalyze disruptive innovation, re-define the automotive retail digital experience while propagating and monetizing valuable software and interactive services.
Prior to Capgemini, Bernd held various management positions primarily in the areas of organization, sales, marketing & IT, at DaimlerChrysler during the start-up of the Smart Car range and project management at AXA's corporate headquarters.
Bernd graduated from WIU with an MBA in International Business. Bernd also holds degrees in business management & economics, linguistics & culture. Bernd is a fellow of both the RSA and ESLIDER.
Director Corporate Communications
Michael leads Corporate Communications. Michael facilitates numerous cross departmental activities to promote operational excellence and commercial development. He advises corporate strategy to ensure that company vision, market objectives, product development, branding and messaging are aligned around the Living PlanIT ethos of improving quality of life through technology.
Prior to joining Living PlanIT Michael held a number of positions in organizations promoting regional and national community development and social empowerment ranging from youth education programs to political campaigning.
Michael has a degree in Political Science and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Other areas of study include anthropology, psychology, sociology, communications and life sciences.
Michael is fluent in English and has an elementary knowledge of Portuguese, French and Slovak.
Ian Taylor is a member of the Board of Living PlanIT. Ian was a member of the British Parliament for 23 years until 2010, during which time he served as the Minister of Science & Technology 1994-97. He was Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, the Space Committee and sat on the Commission on National Security. Since leaving Parliament, Ian has been appointed to senior positions in the field of science, technology and space, including: Chairman of the Steering Group of the UK National Space Academy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Rainbow Seed Fund (investing government funds in spin-outs from the science research base), Chairman of Lunar Missions (responsible for the Lunar Mission One project), Member of the UK Science & Technology Facilities Council. He has been an advisor to ESA and is a consultant to Inmarsat on a space project for Africa.