BT partners scale-ups to help cities in green recovery

  • February 8, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

British Telecom has selected tech scale-ups iOpt and Everimpact to develop products and services aimed at helping towns and cities drive a green recovery.

Working with Plug and Play, an innovation platform headquartered in Silicon Valley, BT has selected the scale-ups via its Green Tech innovation platform announced last year.

BT will help Scottish IoT company iOpt and Everimpact, a French climate monitoring firm, to accelerate their growth by offering their products to local councils across the UK who are looking to adopt street-level environmental monitoring and smart buildings.

The successful scale-ups – the first in a series of green innovation partnerships that will be fostered by BT – were unveiled at the company’s recent Towards Net Zero virtual showcase. The event brought together businesses and local government to explore collaboration opportunities to achieve a green post-Covid-19 recovery.

As part of the transition to a low carbon business model, BT recently announced that its network, offices and shops worldwide were now powered by 100% renewable electricity, underpinning its commitment to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045. BT’s commitment to reducing its carbon intensity will help the UK government meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and is calling on other companies to adopt similar measures and commitments to help the country build back better following the disruption of the global pandemic.

“As the world looks to recover from the current health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19, we have an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a greener society, working in partnership with government, business and society as they look at how they need to adapt and change their business models in the evolving digital world,” said Dean Terry, MD for the corporate and public sector at BT. “We also appreciate that BT cannot do this alone. With our track record in helping to incubate innovative start-ups and scale ups, such as iOpt and Everimpact, we look forward to bringing the best of our innovative ecosystem to support local councils on their journey towards net zero.”

IOpt will be using its IoT platform to enable smart buildings, with a focus on improving the quality of social housing for local councils. The IoT platform provides real-time information and alerts on the condition of properties. Installed sensors will enable key information such as damp, mould and fuel poverty to be collated and tracked. BT will provide the network connectivity and manage the installation of the sensors, while supporting iOpt in growing its customer base.

By empowering local councils to take action to address such issues, iOpt’s can assist councils with social regeneration and deliver improved health and well-being outcomes for tenants. Its preventative approach allows for energy efficiency improvements, meaning less risk of fuel poverty for tenants. Further benefits for councils include lower preventative maintenance costs and cutting down unnecessary travel to fix issues, reducing carbon emissions.

This supports the wider ambition of a number of local councils that a Covid-19 recovery should be climate-focused, with 38 regional leaders across the country pledging to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

“At iOpt we are delighted to be working alongside BT on their green technology innovation platform,” said Dane Ralston, managing director of iOpt. “We always look to work with value-add partners and BT is clearly one of the leaders in connectivity infrastructure, which is critical to delivering the potential value we envisage in smart cities and local authorities. Since our introduction, through Plug and Play, it’s clear we have many shared values and, despite the obvious size difference in the two organisations, there are many synergies and benefits to both parties.”

Everimpact will develop environmental monitoring for BT’s smart streets proposition. Air quality and CO2 sensors will be integrated into BT’s street furniture estate, such as street hub units, payphone kiosks or CCTV sites, to provide actionable environmental insights for local councils.

This will combine Everimpact’s satellite data and AI technology with air quality and CO2 data collated via sensors on BT’s street furniture. Local councils will be able to access the data via a smart city dashboard, where they will be able to track emissions and receive certified carbon offsetting information, enabling them to generate funds for their decarbonisation efforts.

“We are excited to be working with BT to equip their street furniture with our innovative technology to monitor and reduce carbon emissions” said Mathieu Carlier, CEO of Everimpact. “This will help local authorities monitor their carbon footprint in real time, identify the best opportunities to cut emissions, and access new funding for the necessary investments. At scale, the UK could become the first nation to continuously monitor carbon emissions over its entire territory. This would boost its goal of net zero by 2050.”

Over the next few months, the scale-ups will be collaborating with BT to run proof of concepts with local councils and other organisations. BT’s ambition is to expand this approach to green innovation by working with more start-ups and scale ups and across more customers and business segments. For example, BT is already exploring opportunities for collaboration within the health sector.

Glasgow-based IOpt enables the owners and managers of residential rental properties such as social housing to monitor their properties environmental conditions and energy and heating assets remotely. Alerts and reports allow users to act proactively to prevent problems such as mould, damp and fuel poverty getting out of hand thus protecting not only the property but also the tenant.

Everimpact provides a satellite-based climate monitoring system to help cities and companies continuously measure their greenhouse gas emissions, identify opportunities to reduce emissions, and finance their climate actions. The technology has initially been demonstrated in eight European cities – London, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester, Porto, Santander and Herning – and is also being deployed by companies in the shipping, energy and waste sectors.