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In S2 episode 14, Björn Hansen – Head of IoT at Telia joins the show to explore Smart Building🌇 and Smart Transport🚌 developments and how Telia is enabling better-connected living for people, businesses and cities🌎.

Sit back, relax, tune in and be the first to discover…

  •  Björn’s background 🚌
  • What are Telia doing within IoT? 🌇
  • How can we future proof Smart Buildings and Smart Transport? 🚌
  • How are connected buildings and living being reinvented? 🌇
  • What changes need to be made in real estate to accommodate connectivity? 🚌
  • What could the future look like for Smart Cities?

And much more!

ABOUT THE GUESTS

Björn Hansen is the Head of IoT at Telia Division X, delivering industry-specific IoT solutions for speed to market as well as IoT connectivity options to suit customer needs – for more efficient and sustainable businesses.

Telia Company with 20,800 employees serve millions of customers every day in one of the world’s most connected regions. With a strong connectivity base, Telia is the hub in the digital ecosystem, empowering people, companies and societies to stay in touch with everything that matters 24/7/365 – on their terms.

Division X is the innovation department at Telia. Division X’s job is to build new businesses and markets to keep Telia moving forward. Combing Telia’s core capabilities with the agility and attitude of a start-up. Division X identify real customer value and apply the latest technologies to deliver it. To then nurture it into a robust business that can stand on its own two feet.

Follow Björn on LinkedIn

Find more about Telia and Division X Here

Link to report Digitalisation of Buildings in the Nordics & Baltics.

Link to Telia Smart Building Buyer’s Guide.

Episode Transcript

Tom White
Welcome back to The IoT Podcast Show. I’m your host Tom White. Today we are joined by Bjorn Hansen. Bjorn is the Head of IoT at Telia Division X. Division X delivers specific speed to market IoT solutions, as well as IoT connectivity options to suit customer needs for more efficient and sustainable businesses. Before we get into it, guys, can you do me a favour? Can you like, comment and subscribe on this video, you’ll get notified every time there’s a new episode, and my team uses information to give you more of what you want in the future. Bjorn Welcome to The IoT Podcast Show.

Björn Hansen
Thank you very much, Tom, thank you for having me.

Tom White
You’re very welcome. Been looking forward to this and hearing more, obviously, about division X, within Telia – fantastic business, perhaps that’s a great way to kick off. Could you explain your position and who you are?

Björn Hansen
Yeah, I’m working on something called the Division X, which is the sort of innovation unit outside the traditional logic operations of Telia. And in that one I’m responsible for for IoT. And we are developing basically new ways to reinvent the better connected living outside the more traditional Telco operations.

Tom White
And I think, you know, a lot of operators around the world are doing this and a lot of people are having divisions or subsidiaries. But Division X has been heralded has been doing some fantastic work. So you know, today, hopefully, we can drill drill down a little bit further into that. So can you explain within IoT is a major component of what Division X does? What what is Telia doing within that?

Björn Hansen
I mean, being a Telco of course, we started on the if you look at it as a stack in the connectivity space, and we launched throughout our footprint, which is the Nordic and Baltics, and LTE networks, supporting narrowband and LTM. And we’re currently rolling out 3 million AMR metres connected to this network. So when we won those days, late early last year, it was big bus in Europe, because the size of these rollouts are substantial for a fairly small region and of Europe. So that’s sort of the foundation. And on top of that, of course, we have a horizontal platform where we or partners address specific use cases, we don’t believe that Telia in itself can build and address each and every use case. So we have built it in an open architectural way. And we launched last year in in Norway, a large area outside Oslo, where we have the complete horizontal layer together with the tickets between integration to the backend systems, opening up with API’s to everybody that want to provide data services, sharing the data between the different traditional stovepipes. And then we have chosen also ourselves then to go into and the reason for this podcast, to specific work because one being transporters, more public transport, if you like, and the other one is buildings, where we do a little bit more of the use cases ourselves. And once we have done that, we try to understand then what can you do what kind of insights and predictive analytics can you do once you have gathered all this data, not just monitor? And that’s in a nutshell what we’re doing in IoT.

Tom White
Yeah, excellent. I mean, it’s, you know, people talk about data understanding of data, the use of that, I mean, it’s just sheer volume is vast, isn’t it? I mean, if we were to look a bit more within the building space, can you tell me a little bit more about Telia’s role here and what you mean, and this phrase that I’ve heard a lot about reinventing better, connected buildings and living?

Björn Hansen
Now, coming from the from the transport angle into the cities, looking at the other parts of the city, we see that the cities they are a huge contributor to the climate change that we are experiencing right now in the globe. Even though they’re occupying What 5% of our world’s landmass, they accounted for 78% of the global energy. And then we started to look into that more closely coming from the transport angle into the facility owners and you know, report released which is public last year 87% of all public facility owners say that this is great possibility in digitalization. Yay, we like it. And then we say, Cool. What have you done? How far have we reached 70% of these that said, way to 70% hasn’t even started yet. That sort of gave us the reason to speak based on the experience we had in the transport side, removing the wheels, if you like, on the bus.

Björn Hansen
And trying to understand and we did a thorough analysis of our footprint the Nordic and Baltics and say, so which use cases, because it all boils down to use cases, delivers the most value fastest for a building owner or property owner that they should really look into. And then once they have understood that part, what do they need to have in place to start pursuing that opportunity? And then we’re doing it more from a functional perspective, rather than becoming too technical, even if you’re an engineering company. What are the functions you need to have in place in your organisation to capitalise on such a potential saving or differentiation of your offering? And then we go into where we have our stronghold, of course, how do you bring this all together? And how do you start? And then we go a little bit deeper into the IoT stack and in the building space and try to explain and exemplify what we have done for other facility owners in our, in our geographical space.

Tom White
I mean, it is fantastic. And you know it specifically, within connected spaces and buildings, a lot of work has gone into that. And, and a lot has happened, hasn’t it in during the last few years? What changes do you see and the needs within the real estate industry?

Björn Hansen
I think one thing that it had hit us and we thought it was gone, but is now hitting us, again, is the COVID, of course, and has changed a little bit the way we’re looking at buildings. And I will say that it has even accelerated our view on buildings and making them more relevant, depending on what you want to do in the building, or more efficient. And again, our life is centred around buildings, we spend 90% of our time indoors, in our homes. When we work we do sport, when we do studies when we do eating, and we do shopping that’s 90%.

Tom White
Yeah, that feels like a lot, doesn’t it?

Björn Hansen
If you don’t do mountain biking or jogging, or skiing I encourage you do more of that than. Yeah, yeah. And then if we come back again to the use cases that we have started looking into, we started to say okay, what are the challenges that we have identified that we could have a support the tenants way though the facility owners, and his energy and resource ways of course, meaning why have the heating on or why have the lighting on if there are no people in the building? How can you steer that automatically? There is no lack of oversight of the various building infrastructures. Meaning how can you do daily operations? If there are no people in a certain floor? Or during a certain period should even go up there and change the coffee machines or the coffee etc? Can you do optimisations of the maintenance? The other one is of course secure and access management? How do you secure that you have the right people at the right time in your building?

Björn Hansen
And the other one that I think everybody’s used to is the booking a room or or inefficient use. Yes. Are you allowed to book a room for 20 people if you’re only two people in the office, conference rooms is a scarce resource in an open landscape if you try to optimise the building offering. And the other one, I mean, we’re used from other verticals to talk about the E-bus and Airbnb is etc. The digital native competitors coming in now with flexible offerings of company spaces in buildings that you can grow or you can scale down very easily. And that is also a threat to the more traditional facility owners that they need to handle now and try to say how can we meet this demand? Also for us having consultants in and out in the organisation. So sthat is five of the mega trends that we run across in our footprint.

Tom White
Yeah, I mean, we’ve had people in the past on the show, company, Nordic business called Airthings about air quality monitors. Yeah, I know that Yeah. Yeah. And, and lots of other interesting concepts that goes beyond what the common man would see when we talk about digital assistants, you know, your Alexa’s and ohms etc. There’s there’s so much more that we can offer. Isn’t there?

Björn Hansen
And the challenge many times, not to mention or focus on Airthings but is that there is a lot of technical solutions out there already or seen an existing building in place. But they don’t necessarily talk to each other. That means the access management team doesn’t know if the building is full or not the elevators that is connected, were three years out of water out of 10 might not be a problem if it’s only 40% of the normal workforce in the office, because the way we are looking at our office space is coming back to my opening statement that COVID has put new requirements into the building space.

Björn Hansen
So the elevators would be happy to know that there is only 40% of the normal workforce here. There is no problem with the three elevators that need services. We can plan that for next day. There’s nobody urgently having to go out and repair this. So the stovepipes exist, but somebody has to understand and take responsibility for the horizontal approach and open up API’s and integrate these stovepipes. So Airthings, for instance, excellent solutions could be put on top of such a solution, addressing that use case alone. But sharing that data in the same data lake or digital twin or whatever you want to call it. That can be accessed from the security team that has an interest in how many people are physically in the building right now. Unless they have that control themselves in their system or the elevators.

Tom White
Yeah, yeah. It’s a common theme. I mean, you started that by saying they don’t talk to each other. And what we hear a lot and what we know a lot about IoT, and perhaps one of the reasons why we don’t have 50 or 500 billion or whatever Gartner predicted it was 10 years ago, devices is because they don’t talk together. And this is something that’s really, really important if we’re going to get mass adoption, or people are using this domestically.

Björn Hansen
Up in the in the cas and then going back to the old books you read in school or crossing the chasm. Yeah, there’s always some technology friendly people who connect the whole house for that specific use case. And if you’re lucky, if you’re a private resident, the rest of the family might understand what Mother Father, daughter or son has just done the rest, the big majority of the people don’t just follow, because it’s not easy enough to get value out of these stovepipes.

Tom White
Now, it’s true. That’s a really good analogy. Tell your story. So a good a good friend of mine, his father’s an architect. And there’s a there’s a programme in the UK called Grand Designs. Right, right. Yeah, I’ve seen it. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So his his father’s house was on Grand Designs and won an award. This was this was years ago, before I was even involved in the industry for the most connected house, and I remember going round, and he had, you know, connect for and reservoir tank for rainwater to fill up and all the cameras and everything was automated. But we’re talking about it. And it took me over a year to get all of these devices to kind of work in some form of synergy together. And that was obviously that was many, many years ago. But I think, you know, if we’re going to have this regularly, in many different houses, and as you say, you know, there’s always some smart person that connects with this together, there needs to be this common platform, this understanding that the devices can work in harmony or near near as harmony together, right?

Björn Hansen
True, true, but more and more of the ones that have started not the 70%, that hasn’t started, but after the 30%, some of them have chosen to cooperate with us in our footprint. And the majority of them understand the need for this horizontal platform. Because that gives them also an open ended way of approaching it. And then the first thing they do then coming back to the first and most burning topic, how do I get my ROI? How do I justify the investment? So which use cases do they need to address them first, anomalies, energy waste, that tends to come very high up on the list our experience. So there, we have built our own indoor climate monitoring solution where we have sensors where we can tell you about the humidity, the co2 level, the occupancy level of a room, etc?

Björn Hansen
Because that’s sort of basics to understand the utilisation rate of your building and how the energy is being consumed. Yeah, yeah. And what we’re currently looking into there now is to do some predictive analytics on top of it, comparing them the patterns from the history together with within the week and what do we proceed is coming up, how’s the weather going to be outside, etc. Whether or not you are into heating, and try to automate that part of the building. That’s the next level, not just monitoring, telling you hey, it’s seven people in the room. Cool. What do I do with that data? Yeah, of course. Yeah. I can lower the temperature or production or heating because this, these batteries, it’s small elements that is walking around there and creating heat, just by their body temperature, can we lower the indoor temperature? Could you predict that the day before depending on if it’s summer, rainy, etc. And that’s where we’re currently at and not just monitoring but analysing and trying to predict.

Tom White
And that’s where, you know, the machine learning element comes in. And I think there’s I think there’s other benefits as well, you know, people talk about mesh networking about being able to be used as surveillance, right. So rather than having cameras, you can find out, you know, if there’s people in that room that shouldn’t be in that room at that time, which is a great addition. I think one of the things that’s really key on this, and something that we’re really keen on is sustainability. So the fact that, you know, if there, are there more people do you really need get on to that level, so on and so forth. So, so it’ll be, you know, fantastic to see this moving forward. Moving on I know, smart cities is a topic that comes up a lot on our podcast, and we’ve had people from the autonomy Institute in the past, talking about digital pins, you know, the advent of 5G, private 5G cellular networks, what role and what is your view and Telia’s approach to smart cities?

Björn Hansen
Yeah, coming back to the number crunching I did before I’m serious. I mean, we expect that 70% of all global populations will be living in cities 2050, I think, is the number using different reports. And are they the buildings in the in the cities, they account for 40% of the energy consumed in a city. So that’s a little bit where we are working, coming back to your own comment that almost sustainability, meaning we need to be building better, more sustainable buildings, or even more important retrofit this new technology that we have touched upon, into already existing buildings. Yeah. And then, as I started off with saying, Okay, what are you guys doing compared to a smart city? Yeah, we have started from the angle of the buses in the big cities, 70% of the proximate or public transport in Sweden is connected to a platform. And we do all in these buses in terms of eco driving, and number of passengers real time traffic information telling when it’s actually a bus gonna come to that bus stop has been exported, even to New York because they call us up and said, I can’t we use that service here, because our traffic situation is slightly different than another congested, large city.

Björn Hansen
So we would like to have real time traffic data because people tend to calm down. If they know the bus is three minutes away. They read a paper and the local say it’s five minutes, oh, it’s not here. I want to be late otherwise, I get annoyed. So we do all that in the building in the transport side. And then we have taken a lot of that knowledge into the building side. So that’s why we’re starting also going into the future with smart city. So we tried to break down to answer your question. But building into sub, or city into subsets. What is a city? Do by one platform for a city? We’re not there yet? I haven’t seen it at least. So we’re set. Okay, cool. We at least have one platform that can cope with the transportations in the city and the buildings in the city.

Björn Hansen
Yes, it has an API structure. Yes, it has a common data lake beneath it. So you can address our use cases. But we haven’t done that until now. Nor we know our partners, because it all boils down to old telco, if I call us will not be able to address all these use cases, there are brilliant companies out there, you mentioned one before more to come, I’m sure. And if we can open up to them and say, Hey, we have connected most of the buildings in the city, we’ve connected the buses in the city to this horizontal platform, here’s the rest I pay, knock yourselves out this data lake here you can find all the data we have you get access to it, if the city allows you to come back to GDPR. And you can then go out and offer whatever you guys want to offer in the City Smart lightning or whatever. So it’s all about an ecosystem and some kind of co op petition, sometimes we’ll meet each other had to have for sure, addressing the same specific use case. But we as a operator have to be honest to ourselves and see that long time, we will be on the platform layer and saying, Hey, we’re an IoT operator, as we are today considered a mobile operator.

Tom White
Yeah, it’s, I think you’re entirely right. And it’s great to hear the plans, I think the infrastructure is really important, isn’t it to be able to build the components, as you say, to break this down from a smart city to a smart building to what’s inside that building. And, and just going back to that statistic that you know, 90% of the time that we spend inside, right. You know, and being able to being able to work with that. Public transport was interesting. So you touched on on the buses there and how that would work. Where can this go? Could you know, can it go further than that? You know, whatever potential use cases can we see around public transport? I’d be interested to explore that a little bit more.

Björn Hansen
Yeah, what we have done in a smaller scale together with 100 public traffic operators. There’s in Sweden is autonomous buses, of course, coming back to 5G a little bit. A bus that picks you up when you need the bus to pick you up not on time, smaller buses, to start getting the private cars off the roads. That’s one area, which is up and running today in 5G, and in Stockholm region. Another area, which is a concrete example from Helsinki, where we use crowd analytics, they built a new railroad to transport people into the city centre. But they didn’t get the full usage of it. And they were wondering why what are we doing wrong, it’s super modern trains, and they go very fast, much faster and standing in the queue.

Björn Hansen
But then we crowd analytics and anonymizing the data, because he the driving patterns throughout the 24/7 day and see when people communicated and from where they communicated. And then we reroute the bus traffic in Helsinki suburbs. And to get the those time slots when they were most busy to this new fancy train road to increase and the usage of it and we got it up with 25 30%. And this was done last year with Cloud Analytics. And the city of Helsinki called the return on investment on their fancy trains. And they got 20 30% Less traffic on the roads. So the congestions ended up. So I think we will see more and more of those kinds of solutions as dynamic bus routes. Maybe it’s the headline. Yeah, self driving, done maybe a bit further down the road. But it’s technically possible today. But then there are other legislations, as we all know, who is driving the bus? If there’s an accident?

Tom White
Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of talk around that, as you say, right, with level five autonomous driving, you know, because, you know, does does, you know, does does the car veer off, does it not, you know, did the, you know, what, how, what decisions are taken with that under legislation, is your view, you know, because you’ve got, you’ve got one side, you’ve got the infrastructure, you’ve got the technology, and then you’ve got the legislation, but they don’t go in parallel, you know, so some can race before another. Do you think maybe that could be a limitation to some of the advancements we’re making in in smart cities that the legislation would need to catch up in order to improve where we’re going?

Björn Hansen
Yeah, maybe in the format of standardisation, maybe. We have had talks in Europe, for some time now about shutting down 2G and 3G. Most operators has embarked on that journey. But if you start digging a bit deeper into some of the alignments that has been achieved in the early days of mobility around 2G and SOS alarms, etc. It’s not an easy thing, to just shut this down, because the legislation based on the new technology being ltva, for instance, is not there yet, between the countries to be able to allow and sort out all these security aspects of having a mobile network that seamlessly work across the globe. So yes, I think we have we are behind technology in legislation towards your question, I think we need to speed up. And that was just one example. Not being legislation expert.

Tom White
Yeah. Of course. Yeah, Bjorn. I think it’s fantastic. And for our listeners, you know, this is, this is part one of a two part podcast that we’re doing with, with Telia. And I think you know, some of your insights here is an overview is, it’s been really interesting. And we thank you so much for your time today. Bjorn is one of the parts of the show, which is fairly new to us. We ask our previous guests if they have any questions for an upcoming guest. And on our last episode, we had Nick Earle, the CEO of Eseye, and a lot of that talk was around eSIMS and global connectivity. Question for you, Bjorn. From Nick was are Telia as a result of eSIM, going to truly adapt a global platform?

Björn Hansen
I’m so happy for that question. Sounds like colleagues. As a matter of fact, we launched a service for global IoT connectivity last year. And it’s cloud native by by design, based on UICC or eSIM, if you like, so that you can have the manager seems done over there. We have 400 Roaming partners on less regulated markets, and there are photos whose entirety more and more regulated markets and there we have currently 10 countries signed up and across four continents. And as we speak 10 customers are global magnitude up and running on the platform, at oneness. Remember to answer Nick’s question a little bit different. Our focus is in the Nordics and Baltics. So we help international companies from the Nordic and Baltics, when they have international ambitions. Yes, there are some smaller companies, smaller requests or logic requests coming from large global players as well for our platform, given how it’s built, and we have on boarded one or two of those as well. But our main and primary focus is in the Nordics and Baltics. And given the size of the countries up here, a lot of the companies are dependent on export. Yeah, the larger ones, like a key or h&m or whatever, of course, for me, the global operators, in those are excuse as well as it should be. But there are so many smaller companies that the larger operators don’t necessarily consider. Yeah, for them, we are a very natural choice and we with this offering, so I thank Nick for that question. And I know that you, Tom will have a second follow up on this with my colleague Rachit. And he will go a little bit deeper into this offering. So I will not preempted that podcast.

Tom White
Yeah. Well, all this to say is, you know, fantastic. We’ve got 10 Customers signed up in such a relatively short period of time. Truly seems like something that that’s moving in that way. Absolutely. Fantastic. And thank you, Nick, for sharing that. Bjorn thank you so much for coming onto the show. We’re really looking forward to filming the next episode for Rachit just so our listeners can be aware where can they find out some more information on Telia on social media etc,

Björn Hansen
they can probably find their way to the report I was referring to about smarter connected living or or buildings. That is sufficient, download it on our homepage. And there is also a buyer’s guide there, where you can read a little bit on how to get started if you’re into the building space and contact details and everything that me or my team is there so knock yourselves out.

Tom White
Excellent Bjorn thank you again, cheers. Guys, as always get involved in the comments online. Follow us at the IoT podcast. Stay tuned for the next episode with Rachit Saksena from Telia. And as always, I don’t care how you’re connected just as long as you’re connected. Cheers.

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