October 2023

Future of Urban Tech

Technology is sweeping through society and the economy at breakneck speed. New technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, have already pervaded the world of urban planning, real estate, and construction.

Prop-tech is becoming a standard part of the industry, with digital property management, 3D-modelling, and smart homes just some of the examples of what lies ahead.

According to Precedence Research, the global prop-tech market size reached $30 billion in 2022 and is expected to be worth around $133 billion by 2032.

We take inspiration from Europe’s premier event for tech innovators as Warsaw welcomes Urban Tech Forward. The Penteris team takes a look at some of the themes tackled at the event.

Net-Zero Cities

A roadmap to decarbonisation

The first step we already see happening is achieving a more efficient use of the resources we currently possess, such as thermal insulation in buildings. However, this alone is not sufficient. The most crucial step, which will significantly impact achieving net-zero emissions locally, is the implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. It is inevitable that cities taking matters into their own hands will prosper. This entails introducing initiatives like low-carbon or zero-carbon vehicles and public transportation, reducing emissions from city waste, implementing a circular economy to minimise resource use, and transitioning to smart digital power grids.

Sebastian Janicki, Partner (Construction, Environmental Issues)


Green Buildings of Tomorrow

The grass is greener on the eco-friendly side

With the increasing awareness of the need to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, technology is playing an even more significant role in driving innovation and efficiency in construction. Robotics, automation, and data analysis are being utilised to diminish carbon footprints. Renovation projects typically achieve 50-75% savings in carbon emissions compared to constructing a new building. Renovation, retrofitting, and refurbishment of existing buildings represent an opportunity to upgrade the energy performance of commercial building assets for their ongoing lifespan. Often, retrofits involve modifications to existing commercial buildings that can improve energy efficiency and/or reduce energy demand, including the use of internal energy generation sources such as solar panels and more energy-efficient installations.

Agnieszka Koniewicz, Partner (Renewables, Construction)


Constructing a Zero-Carbon World

From carbon emitters to carbon neutrality

Zero carbon is an ambitious but challenging goal. Introducing modern technologies in buildings to achieve zero emissions is both innovative and necessary; however, it can often undermine the cost-effectiveness of construction projects at a time when the real estate and construction sectors are suffering from excessive costs associated with traditional construction methods. Even the richest and most advanced EU countries are now considering postponing these ambitious plans due to the soaring costs. Therefore, finding the right balance will be crucial to the future of the construction sector.

Przemysław Kastyak, Head of Construction (Construction, Real Estate)


Beyond the Car Craze

Gearing up for urban mobility transformation

The transformation of urban mobility is an exciting and rapidly evolving topic. Several key trends and developments, such as electric and autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, micro-mobility, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) platforms, smart infrastructure, sustainability, and emission reduction, to name a few, are shaping the future of urban mobility. These technological advancements and innovations have the potential to reshape the way we move around cities.

Konrad Pecelerowicz, Associate (Real Estate)


Workplace in the Age of Urban Tech

How technology revolutionised our work

In recent years, our reality has shifted from traditional conference rooms to virtual meetings on platforms like MS Teams or Google Meet, and from joint drafting sessions to collaborative work on shared documents. This new efficient environment is, however, not without its challenges. The protection of personal data and cybersecurity has become the new ‘health and safety’ of the workplace. Regulators worldwide are swiftly introducing solutions to ensure steady and sustainable growth in this digital area: DSA, DMA, and the upcoming AI Act are just a few examples from the European playground. It remains to be seen whether these new laws will foster healthy competition or pose unnecessary hurdles in the development of future workplaces.

Jeremiasz Kuśmierz, Head of Compliance (Corporate/M&A)


Scaling Up Green Infrastructure

From small steps to giant leaps

Green infrastructure encompasses a spectrum of elements, including stormwater management, wetlands, and urban forests, as well as advanced technologies like green roofs and the utilisation of geographic information systems (GIS). GIS serves as a digital instrument employed for the acquisition, administration, analysis, and subsequent visualisation of spatial data, enabling well-informed decisions regarding geographical features and their associations with other variables, such as the urban environment and its human populace. The emergence of AI has further empowered GIS, allowing it to facilitate business predictions, thereby becoming an exceptional resource for the construction and development sectors.

Ewa Olszewska, Associate (Real Estate)


Post Carbon: From Circulatory to Biodiversity

Circular thinking for a sustainable future

Poland‘s capital, Warsaw, has banned the burning of coal by tightening the provisions of its anti-smog resolution, which has been in force for five years. Changes are also underway in the urban transport system, including the introduction of more electric-powered city buses and an increase in the number of electric vehicle charging stations. These initiatives have not gone unnoticed, as Warsaw was awarded the title of “Eco City 2023” at the beginning of October for its consistent efforts to improve energy efficiency and promote renewable energy sources.

Aleksandra Oleszyńska, Junior Associate (Real Estate, Construction)


Urban Tech Governance

How to rule tech-savvy cities

It is crucial to acknowledge that ‘smart cities’ go well beyond technology; they represent the intricate synergy of technology, policy, and society. The success of urban tech governance relies on the implementation of effective strategies that prioritise the well-being of the communities they serve. In a world where technology is deeply woven into our daily lives, safeguarding digital rights becomes paramount. Achieving the delicate balance between upholding privacy, enhancing data security, and ensuring equitable access to technology is a central challenge for urban governance.

Irmina Kondraciuk, Senior Associate (Corporate/M&A)


Safety and Security

Keeping urban environments safe and sound

The integration of AI in safety and security measures is a contentious issue that is currently the subject of intense debate among EU regulators. This debate underscores the challenges in balancing technological advancements with regulatory oversight to ensure the responsible and ethical use of Artificial Intelligence in urban security. The outcome will significantly shape the future of urban safety in the EU.

Bartosz Jankowski, Associate (IP, IT, Dispute Resolution)


The article was written by Penteris expert lawyers and in cooperation with Urban Tech Forward.