The rise of private or public sandboxes as a key infrastructure building block

The business of connecting things is transforming the world at light speed. Yet, it is not going without pain. Applications leveraging this new trend require early feedback from the field, and this is only made possible by testing early and often in real life conditions. Fortunately, to do this, companies are now able to leverage the sandboxes created by bigger companies, cities or governments to understand the Digital Transformation. AV Living Lab, which runs a district in Ljubljana, is a unique example of such a sandbox, as it provides new ways to collaborate with innovators and help them design their products faster and better.

The impact of the Digital Transformation can now be seen on a daily basis. Everything is affected, even the Internet may be redefined enabling different approaches for privacy and security all at the same time. New products such as drones, robots, and autonomous vehicles are moving out of the research labs and into the real world. The Ubers of the world have disrupted proven businesses models and practices. Companies are reinventing themselves to track every item in their supply chain and understand how products are being used at their customer location. Cities and governments strive to offer a better quality of services to their users.

This is only made possible by a massive amount of technologies emerging at roughly the same time, mainly IOT, AI, and Blockchain leaving customers, governments and bigger companies faced with the challenges of fully grasping what is happening, create the necessary infrastructure to support this massive trend fully and, if required, to regulate part of it. They did so by working very early and hand in hand with the technologies as well as the entrepreneurs themselves. Incubators and accelerators have been built, and sandboxes have been created in all the major cities like in Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai to test the new emerging technologies. Interesting collaborations between Georgia Tech and Atlanta, Toronto, and Alphabet or Amazon and Seattle has helped to reimagine today how cities are going to look like tomorrow.

Within those sandboxes and collaborations, partner ecosystems emerged and became gifts coming from heaven for many companies in need to be testing their solutions in real life environments as soon as they’re able to properly architect their own product. The scale of testing and maintaining IOT applications has also grown by few orders of magnitude. Devices and apps are continually interacting in suboptimal conditions. Applications may be slow to respond to a device, wifi or the network may be saturated, creating difficult operational challenges that may be lethal if not tackled early. This means that start-ups need to receive early feedback in a real live environment. And they can only do that by leveraging a close collaboration with one of the sandboxes directly.

One of the early sandboxes, City As A Lab now welcomes more than 100 companies every year and helps them in their project from ideation to execution. It leverages the BTC City IT Infrastructure in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Within the 0.2 square miles of BTC City, more than 21 million visitors per year are visiting 450 stores and 38,000 vehicles per day are being driven on 7 miles of roads and parked in 8,500 parking lots.

This big sandbox idea started in 2015 when Joze Mermal, BTC company CEO, decided to make of BTC City the first cognitive hyperconnected private city. This infrastructure is continuously updated and is now one of the first genuinely operational 5G testbed. Twenty-nine proofs-of-concept have been tested so far by major global brands with applications including smart grid, smart city, IOT, Mobility and Logistics including AV capabilities, Fintech, and Smart Grid. In 2017, the sandbox became AV Living Lab, a company dedicated to helping rapid prototyping, testing, and validating.

In addition to AV Living Lab, BTC Company has also developed an ecosystem around the sandbox with an accelerator for start-ups as well as a campus where the companies that are testing their applications within the City as a Lab environment can stay. IBM has also located one of their innovation center within BTC City.

We will be hosting on Thursday, January 31st at 9 am a webinar with Daniel Avdagic, CEO and Radovan Sernec, CTO the leaders of AV Living Lab to discuss which early implementations are working or don’t work right now in their sandbox and what you need to do to be successful working within the sandboxes. AV Living Lab is also actively recruiting new POCs to operate within their sandbox and is organizing the City As A Lab Summit from April 3 to 5 in Ljubljana Slovenia to showcase successful POCs as well as recipes that made them successful.