Last week was jam-packed for all with an interest in property and technology. London Tech Week (LTW), Europe’s biggest festival of crowd-sourced tech events spanning an entire six days was in full swing with conferences, presentations, panels, and the current conference event format du-jour ‘Fishbowls’ taking place right across the capital.
Meanwhile at the HAC Grounds in Islington on Wednesday and Thursday, the London Real Estate Forum (LREF) provided the platform for people from across the property sector to get together and discuss the hottest topics in the industry.
Unsurprisingly given the current domestic subtext, London Tech Week took on a distinctly political tone, with the many Conservative candidates for Prime Minister giving keynotes at events throughout the week.
Our favourite was the presentation from Health Secretary and PM hopeful Matt Hancock, who told an audience at the CogX event on Monday that he wanted Britain to “be the world leader in unicorns”. We assume he’s not referring to the fictional horned creatures, although in light of the bipartisan absurdity of our domestic politics at the moment, your guess is as good as ours.
We sent delegates to both events to get in on the action.
London Tech Week kicked off on Monday with a speech from now interim Prime Minister Theresa May, where she announced a series of Government funded initiatives aimed to advance the UK’s tech sector worth around £6 million.
TechXLR8 at London ExCeL is the flagship event of London Tech Week, and for good reason; it’s gigantic, with a huge collection of organisations from across the spectrum of technology businesses including all the big names as well as many exciting start-up ventures.
There was a real emphasis this year on artificial intelligence, with many leading organisations in the field showcasing their latest products, capabilities and developments. We’re currently exploring the possibilities afforded by AI and natural language processing in property management and community communications, and we came back with many contacts and ideas around how some of our thinking might be realised.
We also got acquainted with Pepper, the first humanoid robot in the world capable of social interaction, most commonly deployed in service settings, such as those in hotels, retail environments and museums. We have to say although we were impressed with Pepper’s general level of intelligence, unfortunately, there are still many improvements to address before this technology becomes mainstream. Our thoughts turned to earlier this month when Boston Dynamic’s Spot Mini bot started behaving erratically on stage in Las Vegas at Amazon’s Re: MARS conference.
At LREF, we were particularly pleased to see the School Conference organised by New London Architecture, offering event places for free to connnect 14-16 year olds with our industry in the hope that they will become inspired to join the sector and shape our built environment, communities and places in the future.
Wellbeing and sustainability were also key themes, with Henrietta Frater at The Crown Estate telling the assembled audience that wellbeing is seen as a tremendous growth opportunity in the business, and success in delivering a greater level of employee wellbeing starts with cultural change before enhancements to working environments and practices.
LTW and LREF are two great events reflecting the UK technology and property sectors in a more luminous light than ever before. We only hope they fall on different weeks in 2020!