What if Milan were to become the insurtech laboratory for smart cities

The smart city is the most attractive setting for anyone who wants to innovate today, including the insurance industry. The strategic use of data produced by the connected communities allows the activation of services hitherto unthinkable in well known areas such as health and mobility

Published on 13 Apr 2019

The “Milano Digital Week” just ended was dedicated to Urban Intelligence. A beautiful concept, that of urban intelligence, which also gives a glimpse of new opportunities for insurance companies. Much has been said about everything that is and can become increasingly smart, from home to city, from work to mobility, thanks to the impact of the spread of technologies and the increasingly “smart” use of data that the connections between people and people, between people and objects and between objects and objects are producing and will produce in ever increasing quantities. Data offers many possibilities for an insurance player to do many things. And Milan could become a driving force. 

Smart City in all its forms is the most exciting and promising setting for anyone who wants to innovate today, with disruptive effects on many business models, including the insurance industry. Milan is an Italian excellence in this respect, but Italy is not yet an excellence worldwide, for several reasons that would be long to recall here. 

A report presented by Roland Berger during Milano Digital Week says that the top smart cities in the world, according to a Strategic Index developed by the consulting firm, are three out of 153 analyzed globally: London, Vienna and St. Albert in Canada. All the others have wide potential for improvement. 

How can a smart city be rated? From the successful blend of three factors: strategic vision, execution capacity, presence of advanced infrastructure. So, welcome the now famous 5G but will serve little purpose without the right visions and even more the ability to translate them correctly into consistent actions and activities. The responsibility is collective, of public administrations as well as private companies, infrastructure operators and great cultural enablers up to the citizens who will be at the same time protagonists and clients of the smart city. In short: there is no smart city without an ecosystem capable of extracting value from the use of digital technologies. 

Insurance companies can and must play an important role in this ecosystem, for at least three different reasons: 1. the strategic use of data produced by connected communities allows the activation of services hitherto unthinkable in well-known areas such as health and mobility; 2. the increase in digital intelligence gives rise to new needs and new demands for protection and prevention; 3. the variety of data sources opens the way for newcomers that will certainly invade the traditional perimeter of companies. 

The smart city, in all its forms, is therefore a challenge and an opportunity for the major players in the insurance market. To face it, the logic of the ecosystem must be quickly married. The Roland Berger report presents a series of case histories: in Xuhui, Shanghai district, the PA has played a strategic role as a catalyst but with Huawei; in Barcelona the Municipality has signed a partnership with Tunstall, which uses public data to provide a tele-assistance service to citizens; Vienna stands out for a program of innovative e-Health services. Milan, according to Roland Berger, could play its game thanks to insurtech and insurance companies; for example, through blackboxes we could collect information on potholes in the road surface and thus offer services to both citizens and public administration. This would already be possible with a “network” approach. However, international experiences have suggested quite different perspectives. Only two examples: the use of mobility data in cities could allow companies to offer insurance services on demand; personalised prevention proposals would have the dual effect of optimising public health service spending and improving the quality of life of citizens. The future of insurance and insurtech also passes through smart cities. 

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Giovanni Iozzia

Direttore di EconomyUp, InsuranceUp e Proptech360, ha studiato sociologia ma da sempre segue la tecnologia. È stato direttore di Capital, vicedirettore di Chi e condirettore di PanoramaEconomy.

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