Tavistock Development Company: building tomorrow’s city
The city of the future will be smart. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and driven by innovative, digital technologies the way in which we interact with urban environments - with our own homes - will change.
Lake Nona , a 17-square-mile mecca for technology, innovation and community encompasses everything that makes the modern smart city so unique.
Located contiguous to Orlando International Airport, Lake Nona is a visionary community built on smart, digital technologies and which plays host to innovative, tech-focused companies and organizations. The community is one of the core investments of Tavistock Development Company (TDC), itself a part of Tavistock Group.
The latter is an international private investment organization with a portfolio of public investments and private companies in 13 countries worldwide. TDC undertakes planning, design, hospitality, finance, construction and development projects focused on the future of design, technology and the human experience.
At Lake Nona, Juan Santos is responsible for that experience. Santos is Senior Vice President of Brand Experience and Innovation at TDC and a recognized expert and leader in design thinking, smart and responsive cities, virtual worlds, physical + digital, and loyalty and rewards. “Lake Nona is a really unique environment,” he says, “it’s a master-designed community that is created with the idea of a frictionless environment where people can truly thrive.
“Technology plays a critical role in how Lake Nona functions,” he continues. “We have three ‘growth engines’ that drive the concept of the smart community: health and wellness, which is driven by several really innovative and technology-focused health companies; training and human performance and collaborative innovation. Technology really underpins each of these engines, as well as the broader community itself. For example, we’ve had 1GB symmetrical fiber as standard for the past decade, we were a Google fiber standard city before any others and Cisco has designated Lake Nona as the only smart and connected community in the US. Innovation is really at the heart of everything that happens here.”
In such an environment connectivity is vital. As such, Santos explains, Lake Nona is a hotbed for 5G technology, from which it stands to benefit greatly. “The whole idea of the environment we created was about offering unique connectivity,” he explains.
“5G is absolutely going to be a critical part of that equation. So, as an example, we have autonomous shuttles that run throughout Lake Nona and they’re exactly the type of innovation that would benefit from 5G. It also provides a really great environment for testing 5G technologies and innovations, for example, and we have a host of companies based at Lake Nona ready to do that. There is also the potential for the development of specific smart labs, which we hope would be among the world’s finest, that are solely dedicated to better understanding the broader impact of 5G and its associated technologies.”
To achieve such innovation, collaboration plays a crucial role. SAP, for example, is a globally renowned leader in 5G and technology innovation and Santos shares that many of the businesses advancing in this field at Lake Nona benefit from SAP services.
“We’re a smart city - a lot of the core functions around us benefit from being a part of the SAP ecosystem. We use a very broad set of technologies at Lake Nona, and that’s really how we’ve nurtured that collaborative environment. SAP is highly experienced in working on these types of ecosystems.”
Looking more broadly at the technologies that will continue to facilitate Lake Nona’s growth, Santos explains that “from a trend perspective, it’s all about the complete system - we’ve set the standard for creating great places for people to work, and that makes them want to live in and enjoy this urban environment. On technologies specifically, I think that mobility will be a key aspect of how communities like Lake Nona change and thrive - the idea of mobility and micro-mobility is something that we’re putting a lot of thought into. For example, considering the best mechanisms for people to be able to best use Lake Nona in a way that has many modes of transport, you don’t always have to use a car and that - ultimately - you never even have to think about moving, you just think about your destination.
“That includes autonomous vehicles, powered bikes, intelligent forms of transportation that bring a whole new level of convenience. The ability to enjoy yourself is also crucial. To build a successful smart city you have to add a layer of art which is present throughout the community as well as attention to the smaller but important things like regular events, wellbeing and fitness classes. By having a place that is digitally, physically and humanly connected you can really enrich peoples’ lives.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.