Enabling Future Smart Cities to Flourish


In this Project Syndicate’s article entitled “Life in the Uber City“, MIT’s Senseable City Lab researchers encourage policymakers to direct resources towards supporting “a bottom-up” ecosystem to make smart cities a reality and also to nurture “the regulatory frameworks” which creates the urban space to allow innovations to thrive.

On one hand, I agree with their call to enable a more conducive regulatory environment for smart city innovations like Uber, Nest and Airbnb to flourish, but I also believe that technology multinationals programmes such like Microsoft CityNext and IBM Smarter Planet should not be avoided. These multinationals play a very important role to support the larger local technology economy and provide important institutional knowledge and best practices to make such smart cities innovations truly scale up beyond district level and spread the benefits across the entire city.

Therefore, policymakers should not be forced to go one way over the other but keep an open mind about technology, and focus their effort on developing a regulatory environment which supports all innovation from both sides – start-ups or multinationals, to thrive, and that’s a really smart choice.



Disruptive Internet technologies to revive stagnate services

The power of the Internet is at its greatest utility when its disruptive technologies (think innovative mobile payment or transportation services) are able to get ahead of highly regulated environment and revive public services that have stagnated over the years.

Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick nailed this point during the 2013 the Aspen Institute’s Washington Indeas Forum.

Related link: The Black Car Company That People Love to Hate

How Big Data Helps Book Publishers Profit in the Digital Age

As more readers are going digital, HarperCollins, shares how big data is transforming their publishing business model for the Digital Age. Cheaper and more efficient means of acquiring the information about their customer base is giving the publisher better insights about their customer base. These insights translate to more effective marketing, smarter pricing strategies improvements and of course, better profits.

Via Fast Company Most Creative People

Making Broader Sense of Google’s Acquisation of Nest

Last week (13 Jan 2014), Google announced its acquisition of Nest, which produces beautiful internet connected smart thermostats for a USD 3.2 billion (The Big Bs, not just Ms). This news underscores the growing energy efficiency sector and adds further momentum on a trend in consumer energy efficiency smart appliances (enabled by data analytics and sensors) connected to internet enabled devices.

Imagine a little smile to notify you on your energy usage levels, or controlling your aircon with your smart device to cool your home to just the right temperature before getting home and thus avoiding the large bill of leaving the aircon running constantly. Welcome to the age of Internet-of-things!

US Innovation Act – Towards stronger patent protection and curbing abusive patents litigation

Having worked for Microsoft Research and the technology industry, I fully support enabling an environment for new and constant innovation, particularly in a competitive and free market economy. Almost all the new technology and services we enjoy today like the Internet are developed by taking on different parts of innovative technology and ideas pioneered by a variety of sources such as universities, government agencies and research firms together.

Therefore I am excited about news of the US Innovation Act which aims to address the problem of abusive patent litigation by patent trolls, diverting companies on focusing in creating new innovations. Patent trolls are entities which exerts questionable patent rights against alleged infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not actually manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question – a typical economic rent seeking behaviour.

Hopefully the new Innovation Act will “level the playing field by controlling discovery costs, raising pleading standards, and making fee-shifting a more meaningful deterrent to frivolous allegations“. (H/T: Innovation, Not Litigation, Google Public Policy blog)

Troll – Zoe, used under Creative Commons licence.


Google Think Insights has released an updated Mobile Playbook which offers detailed insights and strategies for business (the physical and online distinction is so passe) to look hard on issues such as addressing the local mobile customer, price transparency challenges and showrooming.

Towards the end, the guide provides a useful list of action items for follow ups.

Recommended read for those into commerce and online services.