November 2020

Connecting cities for the future

How one company is helping to make our buildings smarter and more connected

Woman looking at phone

An estimated six million people around the world are benefitting from consistent and reliable digital connectivity during the Covid-19 crisis thanks to WiredScore, an international digital connectivity rating company backed by Legal & General.

Legal & General invested in WiredScore two years ago because of the key role that technology will play in making the cities of the future great places to live and work, but the pandemic has accelerated the need for reliable digital services.

The company operates certification schemes for landlords with commercial and residential properties and has so far certified the connectivity of around 3,000 commercial buildings across 10 countries, as well as 10,000 homes in the UK. It means the millions of people who live and work in those buildings can rely on consistent digital connectivity or can be confident that their landlords know what needs to be done to improve it.

The company was founded in New York but launched in the UK five years ago after winning the Greater London Authority’s tender to be the official Mayor of London’s Digital Connectivity Rating Scheme. As one of the UK’s biggest developers and landlords, Legal & General supported WiredScore’s funding round in 2018, and the company now accredits the digital connectivity of two million square feet of our own commercial real estate as well more than 1,000 of our homes.

Connecting the nation

Our MediaCity development in Manchester was the first in the country to receive the Wired Certified Neighbourhood accreditation, ensuring that organisations ranging from the BBC, ITV and Kellogg’s, to the 200 small businesses in MediaCity’s tech and innovation hub, all enjoy world-leading connectivity.

Other major schemes which have since been awarded WiredScore certification include Hodge House, an 11,000 sq. ft. neoclassical office building in the centre of Cardiff, and the Cambridge Research Park, where scientists are working on drug development to tackle conditions like cancer. Earlier this year, Legal & General’s 479-home build to rent scheme in Walthamstow was awarded the highest accolade WiredScore had ever given for a residential development, offering each of its residents a secure, fast and reliable internet connection as the country went into lockdown.

Connectivity is the absolute bedrock of how society and the economy work. From an economic perspective it’s fair to say that connectivity is now indelibly linked to productivity and success. ”

Tom McClellan,
UK & Ireland Director of Business Development, WiredScore

Tom McClellan, WiredScore’s UK & Ireland Director of Business Development, says: “People and businesses really care about the internet. Imagine a world where there was no digital connectivity but there was Covid. Imagine how hard it would be to communicate, to collaborate and be productive if you couldn’t meet people. You have to do it virtually in the digital realm now. While we’ve been preaching around the importance of digital connectivity for years, Covid is shining a light on just how important it is.

“Connectivity is the absolute bedrock of how society and the economy work. From an economic perspective it’s fair to say that connectivity is now indelibly linked to productivity and success. Businesses that are successful will grow and businesses that are successful will have great connectivity.”

Rating buildings

To help developers build better-connected properties, WiredScore experts study the plans and explain where the building will sit on the WiredScore scorecard, from the top-ranked platinum rating, to gold, silver, accredited and even ‘not accredited’. For existing buildings, the team visit the site, carry out an audit and collect data before rating the building and provide a gap analysis that explains how the score can be improved.

McClellan explains: “Legal & General’s building on the Cambridge Research Park is Wired Certified Platinum, which is our highest rating. It is best in class. They recently let the entirety of the building out to a US biopharma business who are carrying our critical research and creating innovative, life-changing drugs for diseases such as cancer.

“If you’re developing a drug you need to get research from all across the world into the research and development team, who are located in one building. If you haven’t got great access to the internet that becomes really hard to do. And once you’ve got that you need to get your supply chain right, which means communicating with people outside your building, or indeed your home in the current circumstances. Connectivity is the life blood of every business now.”

Expansion plans

WiredScore is looking to expand its suite of offerings. It currently offers the Wired Certification for commercial property and WiredScore Home, which accredits homes. But similar programmes could eventually be rolled out for sectors such as industry, hotels and student accommodation. We are currently working with WiredScore and a group of leading companies on an accreditation scheme for ‘smart’ buildings, as part of the WiredScore Smart Council.

International expansion could also be on the cards. WiredScore already operates in 10 countries ranging from the US, UK and European countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, to Australia, but is receiving demand from many other parts of the world.

McClellan says: “Connectivity is now an expectation anywhere. The frustration of when you are walking down the street and go from a 4G zone to a 3G zone and your call drops, or you struggle to get onto a video call or a virtual conference at home. You want to be able to go onto the internet and look for information and when all you see is buffering your heart rate goes up and you start feeling stress. We are expecting and demanding so much data and information at such incredibly fast rates that it doesn’t matter where you are now, the internet matters, people just need it.”

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