We’ve been talking about the smarter city for quite a long time at Constructech’s sister magazine Connected World. While most companies will say the connected city is not new, it’s great to see that construction companies will play a crucial role in the realization of the future of the connected cities. One initiative will drive smart-city innovation by supporting technology startups that will deliver innovative solutions that will help construction firms create the smart cities of tomorrow.

For instance, the Cognicity Challenge, which was announced this past October, is a smart-city focused accelerator that is supported by the Canary Wharf Group, www.canarywharf.com, London, England, a property development, investment, and management group, and run by Pivotal Innovations, www.pivotalinnovations.com, London, England, a growth-accelerator company that also leads the Level39 technology accelerator in Canary Warf, London’s financial and retail hub. When you put all these great investment groups together you get a pretty impressive commitment to the connected city in the construction space.

The challenge’s goal is to pick out startup companies focused on smart-city innovations and support them through the development of prototypes that can be piloted in the ongoing development of Canary Wharf. The challenge has six “streams” open to companies, including several construction-related categories such as automated-building management, sustainable buildings, and virtual design and construction.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that the virtual design and construction stream will include firms developing BIM (building information modeling) 5D+ tools capable of modernizing the sector through data sharing, open protocols, and mobile usage, as well as seamlessly integrating systems through the design-build-operate construction lifecycle.

For those startups that wants to be involved each stream will develop technologies and solutions during a three-month span while benefiting from the guidance of Cognicity Challenge partners and sponsors. What’s more, the Cognicity Challenge is also partnering with Intel Corp., www.intel.co.uk, Santa Clara, Calif., a provider of computing devices and applications for the IoT (Internet of Things).

The partnership with Intel will provide the Cognicity Challenge’s 36 finalists (six for each challenge stream) access to Intel’s technologies and expertise in IoT. In the end, by encouraging companies to develop construction technologies should enhance the creation of connected cities—and I for one am excited to see the construction industry taking a bold step toward improving its future.

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