Big companies often put thought into what life will be like in the future. It helps them plan their own development. Philips Lighting has undertaken a complex ‘scenario planning’ exercise to come up with four different possible futures. Its focus is on city life and how the public sector might adapt to meet future challenges.
Connected cities, many futures
In the introduction to its report, Philips Lighting says “As the public sector enters a new era of connected infrastructures and technologies, including connected lighting, thinking about the future of cities is essential. The convergence of digital LED light sources, the proliferation of mobile devices, the exponential growth of data, and the miniaturization of information and communications technologies create a broad set of new opportunities and challenges.”
The scenarios that are the meat of the report have been developed using ‘scenario planning’ techniques. They are broad reaching and wide-ranging – ‘macro’ rather than ‘micro’. So reading the report you won’t find much mention of lighting specifically. But the scenarios can be interpreted to infer implications for lighting. The same goes for other service sectors.
Four scenarios and an ambition
The ambition from Philips Lighting is that organizations use the scenarios to challenge their current assumptions, and think about how they might respond to them. They’re designed to be used by all kinds of organizations, not just those who are interested in lighting.
The four scenarios that emerged are:
- Fablab. Cities where municipalities provide basic infrastructure and citizens create local and virtual communities under their own initiative. Communities ally to innovative local businesses rather than municipalities to bring innovation into their lives. Citizens are attached to global communities more than where they live.
- Sandbox. Citizens lead, working with the municipality as their main partner. User-centric innovation is important, and businesses are involved to improve city livability and experience. Municipalities make connections between different citizens, and run services and initiatives. Citizens feel attached to their cities.
- Resort. Municipalities provide a guided and regulated city experience, maintaining quality standards and delivering personal recommendations for leisure, education, work and lifestyle. Businesses are regulated and steered by the municipality, and a balanced business ecosystem that citizens can enjoy.
- Campsite. A few major platform providers take the lead, and public spaces and city infrastructures are corporate owned. Local and global partners join forces to provide urban experiences. Global plug-and-play services allow a nomadic lifestyle, and citizens aren’t attached to any particular city. People are ‘digital nomads’.
Scenario planning helps to shape future smart cities
The scenarios – and they are presented in more detail in the report itself – are intended to help organizations think about how they respond to change. So, the latter part of the report offers some ideas on how organisations might use the scenarios to support their own thinking.
Kees van der Klauw, head of research at Philips Lighting, told Internet of Business “In our experience, this scenario planning approach facilitates the engagement of different stakeholders such as mayors and aldermen, city government departments, city planners, suppliers of infrastructure and especially citizens as end-users, in shaping their future smart city.
“We have no doubt that lighting will play a key role in any future smart city, whatever scenario will evolve. But there is a difference in how we work with stakeholders and how much they will be empowered to define their future. This may be different for various regions in the world. We have now created a framework in which we can discuss the implications of each scenario in order to create innovations that are meaningful to all.”
The report includes a fair bit of technical detail on the scenario planning process, and a reading list for those who would like to understand the technique more.
Read the whole report here.