Project Management Lessons Learned from the Growth of Smart Cities and Homes

by PM Today contributor / 12/12/2018 11:36:32 AM

In today’s property and urban planning industries, project managers have to adapt to evolving technologies. Project managers now have to recognise that smart cities and homes are at the forefront of construction. As smart technology becomes more important in changing how society lives, here are the lessons that can be learnt from the emergence of this form of technology. 

Analysing Target Markets

There are two ways to build properties that utilise smart technology, either from scratch or integrated into the current design. Across the world a common trend is to start from scratch, and build smart homes and urban areas from the ground up. Songdo City in Korea is a good example of the perfect smart city, each building was built from the ground up with the latest green and integrated technology.

Yet, the newly developed business hub is facing the challenge of filling the buildings, with 60% of the city still unoccupied. When developing a smart home, or large group of smart buildings, project managers need to understand that the development will be wasted if there are no tenants. While the new buildings are highly desirable pieces of real estate, the likelihood of the buildings being used needs to be carefully analysed. 


One of the biggest drives behind the rise in smart buildings is the need to promote sustainable living. Smart buildings are designed to use as much clean energy as possible. Wired spoke to architect Ron Bakker who designed the “world’s smartest building” in Amsterdam.

Deloitte's headquarters in the city’s business district has one wall completely covered in solar panels, while the opposite side is “a 15-storey, plant-filled atrium”. According to Baker this means that “its 70 per cent [powered] by sunlight and we use an aquifer 130 metres down as a battery.

Overall we’re producing, rather than consuming, energy”. For project managers, evaluating how much sustainable energy can be used to power a building will be a key part of the design process. A building that is built from scratch will have much more potential to be able to use renewable energy than a building that is being converted to a smart hub. 

The Budget

Building a smart home takes a lot of planning, coordinating, and budgeting. A good project manager will be able to present to an investor or homeowner a thorough list of the technology available and how much it will cost. Converting a traditional home into a smart home will mean taking into consideration the kind of tech that can be incorporated into the home design. 

Homebuilding & Renovating lay out a modest budget for installing smart technology into a home. If for example the client wanted to convert their sitting room, the article’s recommendations range from £500 to £6000. Project managers will have to keep in mind how quickly a budget can increase depending on the scale of how interconnected the home will be. 

Understanding the Tech Available

One lesson a project manager will need to learn from the growth of smart homes and cities is how quickly the technology evolves. Screwfix’s smart home gadget list shows the wide variety of applications that can be added to any property, which includes smart light bulbs, smart heating and air conditioning controls, and smart speakers. Homes can be secured through smart cameras and CCTV that can be controlled through mobile devices.

The surge of new tech has not only made homes smarter, but it has also paved the way to create better communities, too. On PM Today we covered how smart tech makes lives much easier, with projects like Palo Alto aiming to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly smart city. 

In the next decade urban planning will shift from more traditional methods to creating buildings that are sustainable, connected, and designed to improve the quality of life of the residents. The rise of smart homes and cities will overhaul how buildings are constructed. 

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