Smart Cities might sound to some people like something futuristic, almost playful, like something out of a SciFi movie. But as the world becomes aware of the serious sustainability problems we face in the 21st century, Smart City projects can be the solution to several problems: environmental threats, limited energy resources, ageing infrastructures, growing populations… Smart Cities aren’t a fad: they are a necessity.
Public administrations are starting to realize it and small and medium enterprises are beginning to see the business opportunities of creating those innovative solutions for cities.
But say you are a city’s public administration looking for solutions to improve an aspect of your administration (for example, reduce energy costs, improve transport) Thn imagine you are an entrepreneur and you are interested in the business opportunities that developing Smart City application could offer.
How do you get together? FI-WARE.
First, if you haven’t heard about FI-WARE before, you’ll need a bit of context. In 2011 the European Commission got together with major players from the Information & Communications Technology Industry (all these) to form a partnership in order to place Europe in a leading position for the “next stage” of Internet (AKA Future Internet) The Future Internet Public-Private Partnership or FI-PPP.
One of the main programs of this partnership is FI-WARE, a project that aims to create a standard platform that facilitates the development of Future Internet applications and an environment where developers, entrepreneurs and application sponsors can connect.
This platform would contain a set of open APIS (public & royalty-free) where developers could work on innovative applications. They would be able to use and reuse a series of “building blocks” called Generic Enablers that dealt with cloud hosting, data management, Internet of Things services, security, interfaces to networks and devices, 3D web and augmented reality…
Last September developers had their first chance to see FI-WARE in action with the launch of FI-Lab, the online working instance where anybody can enter and start developing.
Now back to Smart Cities.
FI-WARE is specially interested in Smart Cities since it offers great opportunities for both private and public entities.
Cities can connect their networks of sensors and data sources to FI-Lab, where developers can take that data and experiment with it, creating specific application trials with real information. The creators of those applications then have the opportunity to connect with the best potential clients for those apps: the same cities that provided the data.
The best thing is that the investment that a city would have to do for creating a Smart City app is much less that it would need under normal circumstances. The solutions applicable to one city could easily be applicable to any other city, making it less expensive than creating ad hoc solutions for each one. Not only is it cost effective: the investment is protected since they city doesn’t have to tie itself to a specific platform provider.
From the application creators side the business opportunities are huge. There are many startups and entrepreneurial developers that have brilliant ideas for Smart Cities, but they lack the opportunities to contact public administrations and offer them a tailor-made product for their issues. FI-WARE will not only facilitate that communication, it will provide the necessary platform to test with real data, run trials and host a permanent showcase for their products.
Finally, if all this hasn’t been enough to spark your interest, note that from 2014 till 2015 the European Commission has allocated €100M to finance SME’s that develop applications based on FI-WARE. In the meantime, several challenges and hackathons will be launched with a total amount of €870K in prizes, and a whole section of those challenges are entirely aimed at Smart City applications.
- If you have any questions about FI-WARE and FI-Lab, join the LinkedIN group where the discussion is open.
- Watch the panel about Smart Cities and FI-WARE we had at Campus Party with representatives of the cities of Trento, Manchester, Amsterdam and Malaga.
- Remember that from October 16-18th we will have an event in Santander (on of the leading Smart City projects in Europe) dedicated entirely to FI-WARE and Smart Cities (hackathon included!) It’s free to join, but you better hurry up because the are limited places!