COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way we live, work, play, buy and consume things. Some of these new ways will last only as long as the pandemic does. Others however, will likely become ingrained in our lifestyles, either out of habit after months of lockdown and social distancing, or by positive choice. How to satisfy these post-pandemic behaviours and habits will continue to be a focus for many firms as lockdown continues to ease and restart begins on earnest. Businesses with existing propositions well-suited for a post-COVID era are particularly optimistic: 72% of companies surveyed by Connected Places Catapult believe the current situation to be an opportunity for their business.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the UK’s daily carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 36%. Globally, daily emissions decreased by as much as 17% during the lockdown’s peak in April, compared to daily average in 2019.
This taste of life in cleaner and quieter environments has led many to advocate for a ‘green recovery’, with stimulus investments and support for ailing sectors linked to efforts to realise net zero targets. As the Economist observed in May,“Getting economies back on their feet is a circumstance tailor-made for investment in climate-friendly infrastructure that boosts growth and creates new jobs.”
Place leaders are likewise clear on the opportunity to tie economic recovery to environmental improvements. The Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force has put tackling air pollution and climate degradation high on the list to achieve a climate-friendly economic recovery from the pandemic. And the public agree: two-thirds of Britons believe Climate Change to be as serious as COVID-19 and say they want it prioritised in recovery (Ipsos MORI, 2020)13. The market opportunity for ‘green recovery’ solutions is therefore significant and businesses with solutions which will help places realise both objectives will be well placed to benefit from the increased public and political interest.
From data-driven tools which drive agility and transparency in planning and development, to e-scooters and apps which help you get about smoothly, ‘smart buildings’ which respond to the needs of occupiers, or drones and delivery robots which take cars off the roads, connected places innovations enable smarter, more user-friendly, more resource efficient, more responsive services and user experiences. They are central to releasing the productivity of towns and cities, and to accelerating the transition to net zero. Connected place innovations are also central to meeting the many new and emerging needs of post-pandemic places – starting with managing the risk (and fear) of contagion through to longer term transformations.
The chapters in this Innovation Brief highlight how connected places businesses have already risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and explore some of the market opportunities that the pandemic has created or accelerated. These opportunities have been selected based on:
At Connected Places Catapult, we harness UK innovation to help create connected places for a more productive and greener future. We will be releasing new chapters and related content over the coming weeks. To learn more about the opportunities outlined in this report, sign up for July’s Third Thursday and if anything in this Innovation Brief sparks your interest, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.