FiWare

MVMANT: Mobility as a service for everyone

 Accelerator Programme, myFIWAREstory, Smart Mobility, Success Story  Comments Off on MVMANT: Mobility as a service for everyone
Sep 232016
 
mvmant

Nowadays over one billion cars are circulating on our roads worldwide. This number is expected to double within the next 20 years. In the same time, over two billion will move to cities. This is the equivalent of building from scratch a city of the size of Rome or Berlin every month, for twenty years straight.

This poses many challenges to our society: city administrations need to reduce traffic congestion and offer a solution which is, at the same time, economically viable and able to foster a car-independent lifestyle. Citizens need to be able to move within the city in a convenient way, without bothering to own and operate a car. National governments have to reduce pollution to meet the always increasing air quality standards, without sacrificing economic growth.

MVMANT is a complete platform that enables urban transportation on demand. The dispatching of vehicles is managed by predictive algorithms and by requests generated through the dedicated app. This allows to dislocate the vehicles when and were needed and match the mobility needs of the citizens in the most efficient way. The immediate consequence is that a higher seat occupancy ratio can be reached, offsetting a high number of private vehicles, thus reducing the average pollution per capita and increasing significantly the revenues for the public transportation operator.

MVMANT also includes a city loyalty system, that allows local businesses to advertise inside the app and on the veichles, with demographic and geotargeted advertising and incentivize the usage of MVMANT by awarding loyalty points (MVMiles) that can be redeemed for free rides.

MVMANT was developed by the Sicilian software company Edisonweb and succesfully tested in the city of Ragusa: 2.200 subscribers in three weeks, over 13.000 km driven and tons of saved emissions.

MVMANT is powered by several FIWARE Generic Enablers that made a rapid development possible.
The test results were so succesful and promising, that MVMANT has been spun-off in an autonomous entity based in Germany, in order to further develop the business and cooperations with local governments and car manufacturers.

Mvmant – Smart Urban Mobility on demand from MVMANT on Vimeo.

Assessing FIWARE GEs Quality

 APIs, Developers, Experimentation, GEs, NGSI  Comments Off on Assessing FIWARE GEs Quality
Sep 202016
 
Blue technology background with a bright piece.

FIWARE is rapidly moving from experimental to production environments in which the platform must scale in reliable and real workload conditions. This fact implies that all FIWARE GEris must work at an adequate quality, reliability and at performance level appropriate for these conditions. A dedicated activity has been launched in the framework of the initiative to analyze and assess the level of quality of each GE, providing diverse kind of reports and an assessment dashboard.

The quality is evaluated from different points of view:

  • Curation of GEs documentation (documentation testing), both inspecting the code and the accompanying documentation (installation manuals, user guidelines, and similar). The goal of this assessment is to support FIWARE users with high-quality support for installation, configuration and operation of FIWARE technology, thereby improving the FIWARE user experience in general.
  • Verification of the GE specification (functional testing), developing the appropriate test cases to assess if the GEs implementation corresponds to what is defined in the specification.
  • Assessment of performance, stability and scalability of GEs in operational environments, like under excessive workload (stress testing). Test scenarios are defined and executed such that limits of a GE under test are identified, and can be compared with reference levels. The goal of this assessment is to favor the applicability of FIWARE in purely commercial scenarios.

overallfunctionalThe testing of the documentation and verification has been done for all GE not deprecated in FIWARE Catalogue (28 in total). Three phases are required to complete the QA functional test process. The first phase verifies for each GE the completeness of documentation, the consistency of artefacts and the soundness of information.  The usability of documentation, by example, in case of installation manual is checked installing step by step the GE. In the second phase specific method calls verify the single APIs and the response correctness of each GEs. The last phase consists of functional verifications based on reference architectures integrating some GEs. As result a live dashboard collects and maintains the assessment information and GE owners are punctually requested to correct the encountered deficiencies. The 90% of the high priority GEs has passed successfully the documentation and verification tests. The medium and low priority GEs are above 70% of success but they are working on solving the issues

post-ges-2On the other hand, the stress testing has been performed only for those GEs most critical in terms of performance in the overall architecture. An iterative process and operative methodology have been put in place, obtaining after each iteration, a complete report with the measures obtained after stress test and analysis of the data. The reports are sent to the GE owners for considering improvements about performance and stability for next release. Three iterations will be achieved before end of September this year: one took place in February testing 9 GEs (Orion, Proton, Aeron, IDAS, Kurento, Wilma, KeyRock, Cepheus, Bosun); the second one in May testing new versions of these GEs; and final one due by September testing again a new updated version of these GEs plus two more identified (AuthZForce and Cygnus) and more frequent combination of GEs.

Once the first iteration of stress testing was conducted, a quality assurance expert was consulted for carrying out an independent assessment of the followed process and executed tests to produce an assessment of the achieved work. The main conclusions of his assessment were:

  • Important performance borders were identified
  • Robustness of use within bounds was shown
  • Documentation needs to be improved

According to this assessment, FIWARE GEs are fit for being released in a commercial operational environment with some adjustments. A new external independent assessment is currently being requested after second iteration.

http://i2.wp.com/sigspl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/spl_cert.pngpost-ges-3As part of the overall testing process and based on the obtained results in the three aspects (documentation, verification and stress) above mentioned, an overall label of quality is granted to each GE. This global label represents the degree of quality of the GE by adopting the energy labelling system[1] used by EU for devices. Specific labels for each analyzed category (usability, reliability, efficiency, scalability, performance and stability) are also granted. Thus, in the Catalogue each GE will be labelled with a global label expanded by clicking of detailed labels map.

Now, after two phases in the process some overall conclusions can be stated. There exists a significant heterogeneity in the GEs quality, having more mature GEs and ready for market than others. There is still room for improvement in documentation and support for most of the GEs, which is currently in progress thanks to this activity. It can be also stated significant improvements in performance from first iteration to the second one, due to the following of recommendations in first iteration testing report by the GE responsible, which is also a demonstration of the value this activity can bring to FIWARE.

In near future, the main focus will be to enlarge number and type of tests and to automate the tests as much as possible, but in the meantime a set of guidelines have been created in order to be able to replicate all the conducted tests by anyone. All the tests and code are already public in FIWARE software repository and all the reports available through the FIWARE wiki.

For further information:

  • GitHub repository containing all docs (guidelines) and scripts (to run the tests) about non functional testing task (stress tests)
     
  • All the reports, up to date, in Docman, under Quality Assurance folder.
     
  • The FIWARE Quality Assurance chapter in our wiki.

[1] Figure under Common Creatives Share-Alike license by sigspl.org

#myFIWAREstory – FICHe: fulfilling the Future Internet eHealth Challenge

 Accelerator Programme, Blog, eHealth, interviews, myFIWAREstory  Comments Off on #myFIWAREstory – FICHe: fulfilling the Future Internet eHealth Challenge
Sep 132016
 
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Experiencing a healthcare process is one of the most universal human life events. That is true for almost every person and among any community in the world.
With a well-established tradition around the development of a universal health coverage, Europe comprises different countries that have been implementing that broad concept in several ways, usually with some form of government action aimed at extending the access to healthcare as widely as possible, while setting minimum standards and regulations about privacy of the data resulting from sanitary procedures.

Now, the digital transformation that is seizing the opportunities within and through all the different European industries, is also transforming the health business and revolutionize the aforementioned “healthcare experience”, with the aim to improve the citizens’ well-being by different means: the ICT technologies appear as the most logical instrument at hand in order to make life-saving information easily available, to measure and raise the quality and accessibility of the health services and to make the most innovative tools more effective, more user-friendly and widely accepted.

img_0006That would be the disruptive vision around eHealth advancement. A conception that should coexist with a more traditional sight and with the consistent need to be extremely thorough whenever dealing with sensible personal data. The obligation to implement the ICT advancements following national and continental privacy laws emphasizes the need for a better cyber-security as an integral part for the present and future of the sector.

Within this context, the aim of the Future Internet CHallenge eHealth, the FICHe accelerator, has been to challenge top European startups to create the new digital applications and comprehensive solutions that eHealth market is demanding.
To achieve that goal, FICHe has been offering training, technical and financial support and a real field experience, working with European SMEs and start-ups and pushing them to develop innovative applications and business models for the global eHealth market, building the solutions upon the FIWARE technology. During the recently ended two-year program, FICHe accelerator boosted 20 innovative eHealth startups into the European market.

“FICHe consortium has accelerated the overall process, planning and fostering the visibility of both products and companies”, according with Satu Väinämö, FICHe Project Coordinator. The added value that FIWARE provides comes from the technology but also from the active community that supports and maintains it. As Jordina Arcal, from FICHe finalist HealthApp puts it: "it was a real incubation process…everyone helping each other."

img_0073With the support of FICHe, the 20 finalists SMEs and startups created 150 new jobs, got their first customers, established new partnerships and raised extra public and private funding, that was added to the FICHe program seed funding, which allowed the startups to set off the ground.
For a startup aiming to get access to the international markets, testing and validating its solution in a living lab is a must. That has been the specific and differential final step that has been key to complete the acceleration process under the FICHe mentorship.

At this moment the acceleration process has finished, but the consortium partners – University of Oulu, Business Oulu, TIC BioMed, FFIS de la region de Murcia, TNO,  Amsterdam Economic Board, Stichting zorgInc., Dutch eHealth Fund Management BV and Stichting Digitalezorg.nl– will continue the mentorship, the management of the the Living Labs and the creation of a systematic process that will keep supporting the SMEs and startups, unfolding their business potential beyond the borders of their countries and achieving funding and clients in Europe and beyond.

It’s now time to share the story of FICHe, review the acceleration process with the startups and get a glimpse of their experience and of the solutions that they have developed, which are now entering or are already into of a global growing market.
Also, let’s meet the passionate entrepreneurs and developers and ask them why they have choose eHealth, what does the value proposition of FIWARE for this vertical comprises and which is the reason why four –out of fifteen– companies selected to be part of the FIWARE VIP Programme are working within the eHealth sector.

This is our story, which is yours?

#MyFIWAREstory – WiseTown: city quality enhancer

 Accelerator Programme, Blog, IoT, myFIWAREstory, Open Data, SmartCities, Success Story  Comments Off on #MyFIWAREstory – WiseTown: city quality enhancer
Sep 092016
 
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Recent studies show that data generated in the world doubles every year: most of this information concerns our daily life and should be of interest for the municipality where we live. But municipalities are often small or medium-sized ones and cannot manage to sort and analyze all the information that is being produced or all the citizens’ requests around it.
In order to solve that unevenness between goals and capabilities, it is important to develop a Smart Data plan as a central part of each Smart City strategy: data is the key point to activate Civic Technologies and to make them really effective.

TeamDev, founded in 2008, mixes its software skills with the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) competencies with the aim of creating tools and products that prove able to support vertical markets and to clear up the problems encountered while undertaking daily tasks or dealing with predictive analysis routines.
The Research and Development team is composed by Smart City experts, Full Stack developers, User eXperience experts and Data scientists.

During the recent years, the working team doubled the effort to put these skills in use in two vertical sectors at the same time, creating and adapting the solutions to fit each one of them. For the agricultural field and within the SmartAgri scope, the team developed the Agricolus ecosystem. And, for smart cities, they have deployed the WiseTown project.
Even regarding the evident differences between these two dominium, there is a common denominator: the high impact that the data analysis presents for both of them.

WiseTown stands for ‘Web Information Streams Enhancer for your Town’. The goal of this solution is to collect information from different streams to identify the issues that are affecting the city in several areas: urban renewal, garbage collection, public safety, transportation, social services and environmental problems. In addition, real-time analysis is accessible by creating a “situation room” to manage the singular occurrences.

In action, WiseTown follows three steps: first, it acquires the data from different sources (portals, social networks, mobile apps, IoT sensors and Open Data from other sources); then, organizes the information according to a comprehensive knowledge database that has been made previously available; and last, it uses the data in order to deliver one-to-one feedback, geographic analysis for events and emergencies and other decision support systems.

wisetown1
More than a single web application, WiseTown is a whole ecosystem that offers analytics and management functionalities, that can support future urban planning, ease to handle real-time events and contingencies and that can aid the creation of a participative environment whete citizens and town managers can discuss the city development.

WiseTown is powered by FIWARE. The WISE orchestrator is the module that interacts with the social connectors, the external APIs and the others data sources. It runs the management of the information collection process, enabling the solution to gather data from several sources. In this phase the orchestrator uses FIWARE Orion Context Broker to connect the platform with the open data, hosted in a CKAN based platform. It also uses FIWARE NGSI to connect the IoT sensors feeds and uses Orion notifications to feed the APIs, exposed for the integration with other software.

The engine analyses, ranks and aggregate the data, assigning the ownership of the information to the right office. Then, it starts its core work: the management and analysis of the reports. Wise Engine is still responsible for the workflow of the reports while Orion Context Broker dispatches the information to the user interface, the GIS environment and FIWARE Cosmos.
The most valuable part of the platform still is the information itself. The platform’s supervisors will perform geographical analysis thanks to the ArcGIS Online geoprocessing capabilities and pattern analysis with the business intelligence functionalities of FIWARE Spago B-I GE.
wisetown2The final goal of WiseTown being adopted by the cities is to allow them to:

  • Monitor, within a single process, both human generated and IoT generated information.
  • Generate a valuable database, connecting heterogeneous systems and gathering information that will be useful for urban planning
  • Engage citizens to improve their own city and providing them with real-time feedback on the city issues
  • Save management costs and avoid the waste of human resources, reducing:

     

     

    • The time to resolve each issue that has been proposed as important or problematic
    • The time to send each issue to the right person to deal with it, within the municipality
    • The time to manage a complete set of issues, thanks to the algorithms that can remove/aggregate redundant/coincident issues
    • The targeted clients for the WiseTown solution are, undoubtedly, the cities. By adopting the smart platform that TeamDev has delivered, a city management would accomplish the monitoring of human generated and IoT generated information within a single process, thus creating a valuable database that can interconnect with heterogeneous systems and gather and show information that can be useful for urban planning. WiseTown would also engage the community to improve the city by receiving the data generated by the citizens and giving them back real-time feedback on city issues.

WiseTown ranked as one of the final top projects accelerated by Finodex and has been involved in the FIWARE Mundus initiative and present its solution at the GCTC events in Washington DC and Austin, where the participation was shared with one of WiseTown first customers and early adopters: the City of Perugia.

A great occasion to discover the WiseTown project would be the next and near event organized around the Open Data Accelerators.

This is our story, which is yours?

FIWARE AT THE GCTC'16 – ANDREA CRUCIANNI – WiseTown: City Quality Enhancer from FIWARE on Vimeo.

Towards schema.fiware.org

 APIs, Big Data, Blog, Developers, IoT, NGSI  Comments Off on Towards schema.fiware.org
Sep 022016
 
Cyber space with hexadecimal code as digital background

In previous blog posts the benefits of NGSI version 2 have been described, as a harmonized API for IoT Big Data ecosystems and particularly for exposing real time context information. Harmonized APIs are a necessary but not sufficient condition to foster developer-friendly IoT Big Data Ecosystems, which enable building smart applications.
If data models are not harmonized, developers, in practice, get forced to change their application when porting it to another context (E.g. a different city).

Harmonizing data models means creating a shared vocabulary of terms and relationships that provide uniformity on the representation of different concepts: parking, public transport, weather… Harmonized APIs and data models, together, will enable the creation of smart applications that are portable at data level.

The FIWARE community has started an agile, implementation-driven process, to devise harmonized data models. Focusing initially on the smart city domain, the work is evolving on a daily basis and it is being registered on the documentation hosted in the related Github repository. Such documentation is currently written in markdown format and published to a readthedocs site.
There is also a landing page /data-models (to be redirected from http://schema.fiware.org, as per schema.org recommendations) which provides fast and convenient access to the different data models.
Such data models are published under the Creative Commons by Attribution License.

The design principles behind the FIWARE data models promote reuse, thus existing vocabularies, especially schema.org, have been adopted and leveraged. Other design principles are flexibility and simplicity, enabling a phased adoption by data providers and applications.

A first, draft version of the following models has already been provided:

  • Parking. They allow to model on street and off street parking areas. The data models reuse parts of the vocabulary defined by DATEX II

  • Waste Management. It is intended to model all the assets intervening on (municipal) waste management (containers, isles, etc.)

  • Streetlighting. They model urban streetlights and certain aspects of their controlling equipment

  • Civic Issue Tracking, leveraging the popular Open311 de facto standard to meet NGSIv2

  • Key Performance Indicators, to model performance measurements appropriately

  • Water Quality. Captures different observed measurements (ph, conductivity, etc.) about the quality of water in rivers and lakes, or water intended to human consumption

Other data models to be developed and documented are Weather, Environment, Alarms, Devices or Parks & Gardens. Contributions, in the form of Github pull requests, are encouraged.

It is noteworthy that, at the time of writing, different FIWARE community members and telco operators worldwide (with GSMA support) are starting to experiment in real applications with the referred data models. As a result, valuable feedback can be obtained in order to refine them. The final aim is to contribute these data models to standards organizations, industry associations (particularly GSMA) or global community-driven efforts (schema.org).

José Manuel Cantera – Technological Expert. FIWARE Team

#MyFIWAREstory – TM Forum partnership: creating the data economy infrastructure

 APIs, Blog, Conference, events, myFIWAREstory, Open Data, SmartCities, TM Forum  Comments Off on #MyFIWAREstory – TM Forum partnership: creating the data economy infrastructure
Aug 312016
 
tmforumlogo

FIWARE and TM Forum have been working together since November last year. Following the announced collaboration agreement, we have been partnering in order to create the infrastructure that will serve the emerging Economy of Data.

The FIWARE Business Framework is being developed and has been shared as part of this ongoing partnership. Powered by the TM Forum APIs, the Business Framework is enabling the management and monetization of diverse kinds of digital assets and involving multiple partners.

This aims to be used in the creation of a Smart City digital single market, materializing as a marketplace that will include open datasets and data from paid sources, where data services from different partners can be exposed, priced, monetized and consumed within a single platform.
A more in-depth approach to this process can be found in our recent post, following the interview in which Juanjo Hierro –Chief Architect of FIWARE at Telefonica– reviews the successive maturity levels that the cities would be reaching when they enable a data economy.

Captura de pantalla 2016-06-06 a las 17.12.49The idea behind that –the top level of maturity starting when cities offer a way for third parties to enrich city-supplied data and to enable monetization– was already explored at the TM Forum Live event that took place in Nice this year, among other aspects around the aforementioned partnership and how it is enabling an Economy of Data in the smart cities.

In Nice we had the chance to assist the Open Hack, where FIWARE was providing the platform to be used by the participant teams. We were also at the Live event, spreading awareness about data interoperability, supporting the Smart City Workshop and presenting three smart solutions powered by FIWARE.

It was the perfect occasion to talk with innovation enthusiasts from around the world, Smart City experts that illustrated how communities are making use of smart technologies nowadays, applying the latest ICT advancements and focusing on the creation of innovative and sustainable urban platforms that can not only ease a much better management of the city services, but that can also boost the collaboration between the citizens, the local business and the city authorities, in order to provide the digital tools that can turn each city in an engine of growth and well-being.

We would like to invite anyone interested in FIWARE to check out the outcomes of our partnership with TM Forum and the experience at the Live event in Nize, that we are presenting as our latest My FIWARE Story, now ready to be discovered and shared.


 

Also, we would like to remind the next event organized by TM Forum and within the same intelligent urban development vision: TM Forum’s Smart City InFocus, an exclusive three-day conference in Yinchuan, the premier Smart City capital of China, starting on Wednesday, September 7th.

Last year’s inaugural event attracted over 200 senior government and business officials from across the digital smart city ecosystem to network, learn and exchange ideas. In partnership with the City of Yinchuan and ZTESoft, TM Forum Smart City InFocus 2016, will bring together over 800 C-level executives and government officials from across the global Smart City ecosystem to network, learn and exchange ideas across an interactive conference program. This year’s event will be looking primarily at building sustainable smart cities and offering end-to-end smart services for citizens.
SmartCityInFocus_Icon

Tera Is Building Beeta using FIWARE to Solve the Fragmented IoT Home Energy Market

 Blog, IoT, NGSI, SmartCities  Comments Off on Tera Is Building Beeta using FIWARE to Solve the Fragmented IoT Home Energy Market
Aug 162016
 
tera

Italian startup Tera is a knowledge-intensive SME that brings together years of expertise in data science and energy efficiency. Now Tera, is making use of the FIWARE architecture to create new products that harness and reduce the use of energy for business, individual households, and ‘prosumers’ (users with a small batch of photovoltaic cells often on their home roof or business).

Tera currently works with business and industry groups to conduct energy audits, and helps create custom solutions for business clients wanting to improve their energy efficiency, implement environmental monitoring or extend their smart industry opportunities.

This has given the Tera team unique expertise in web services infrastructure, hardware, wireless sensor networks and thermography. Tera is now using this expertise to enter the growing home energy management system market, which is expected to have a global market size of $3 billion within the next four years. To enter the market, Tera has built Beeta, a hardware and software product that acts as a ‘trusted advisor’ for managing energy information.

Currently, the home energy automation Internet of Things market is quite fragmented, making it difficult for households to understand what is really going on with their energy usage. Some products focus on smart thermostats and regulating the home temperature, products use different data protocols to process information, and many are unable to connect with each other to provide a global view of electricity consumption.

“When we receive energy bills, often we don’t know where is the point to slow down the bill, to save energy. How can we do it? We don’t know,” says Antonio Sacchetti, cofounder of Tera.

“But it is possible, if we first have the monitoring. And you can have this monitoring by means of a smart gateway, which is in our solution. This is able to communicate with meters, sensors, and actuators. The data is then sent to a cloud system, where we have an app so that we can involve citizens in monitoring what is happening.”

Beeta is a box with a thermostat, sensor for electric consumption monitoring, and PV storage monitoring hardware that links to a user interface with detailed analytics and alerts. Beeta can inform users of how to better manage their household electrics and encourages more responsible energy consumption. Tera estimates this can lead to savings of up to 200€ a year.

Maintaining optimum energy efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) cells is a key challenge in renewable energy systems. Households and businesses with their own photovoltaic system — which are typically 6 kW PV systems, for example — on average see an energy loss of 7% annually. This is where Beeta can offer an even greater advantage, helping create savings of an estimated €400€ per year, by more finely tuning a household’s energy consumptions by analyzing their behavior, suggesting new consumption patterns, and recommending energy storage solutions. In future, Tera hopes that Beeta will also link directly to appliances in the home, by automating tasks like switching appliances on and off and powering them into standby mode.

Behind the Beeta hardware, of course, is FIWARE architecture, making use of the Orion Context Broker, NGSI API, Cygnus and more.

Tera
Data to be analysed by Beeta can come from field sensors (e.g. temperature, humidity, presence/movement, air quality, smart meters, contact, brightness) or sent from actuators (e.g. window shutter, smart plug, 3 way valves, thermostatic valve). Beeta can understand a variety of standard protocols (such as ZigBee, Zwave, WiFi, and wired interfaces). This data is then sent (most of the time by 3G connection) to a remote cloud infrastructure (FIWARE GEs by NGSI format) which manages events and data (within Orion Context Broker GE) and allows context event processing based on specified rules and algorithms, and data storage. A graphical user interface providing alerts and feedbacks is available to encourage customer interaction.

Beeta is currently undergoing a pilot phase in Bari city in Italy, where it has been installed in private and public buildings and PV plants. The launch of Beeta on the European market is planned for the end of 2016 and early 2017.

Architecting the City Platform To Create the Data Economy

 APIs, Big Data, Blog, Open Data, SmartCities, TM Forum  Comments Off on Architecting the City Platform To Create the Data Economy
Aug 122016
 
blurred aerial image of New york city. concept about traveling and urban life

Anticipating the publication of the next My FIWARE Story, around the collaborative framework between TM Forum and FIWARE, it is time to recall the Live! event that took place in Nice, France, a few months ago.
TM Forum Live! showcased activities from cities around the world, all making use of smart technologies to enable new collaborations between citizens, local businesses, enterprise, and the city authority.

Berlin is creating the new housing development Future Living, which has been made possible in part due to the availability of detailed data on housing needs, buildings and plots of land and aims to create a living lab environment that leverages data to improve residential quality of life. The UK’s city of Bristol is modelling traffic flows and installing air quality sensors to reduce pollution risks. China’s Yinchuan city uses sensors in garbage collection units to better optimize waste disposal services. The U.S. City of Atlanta is addressing crime risks at a key intersection in the city, and as initiatives prove successful, are expanding the reach to streets and whole districts.

FIWARE Chief Architect, Juanjo Hierro says these sorts of activities show that “the vision of the smart cities is evolving.” Hierro says that as smart city projects move beyond pilot stage, the notion of smart cities has matured. “So far, the idea of smart cities has been focused on more efficient management of city-provided services. But smart cities have to be something more. They have to be the main enabler for economic development.”

Hierro says the way to do this is “to exploit the value of data that describes what is going on in the city”.

What is needed is an economy of data that facilitates industry growth by fostering new partnerships and creating value sharing models so that actors in this new economy are viable and sustainable.

“This is the fuel of innovation, and the gold mine that the cities need to offer to application developers. But to do that, we need to provide data in a standardized way, all the cities have to use the same mechanisms, the same APIs, the same information models,” encourages Hierro. “This will enable a digital single market, where an entrepreneur can develop one application and replicate that in multiple cities.”

Maturity Levels in the Data Economy

Hierro describes three levels of maturity when cities begin to enable a data economy.

  1. First, cities publish an open data platform
  2. Second, cities start to use those platforms to expose realtime data
  3. Finally, cities offer a way for third parties to enrich city-supplied data and to enable monetization.

1. Cities Publish Open Data

“Most of the cities today are in the process of publishing their open data, but this is static, historic data and there are not too many things you can do with it,” says Hierro.

TMForumLiveLogoSQUARE_2016 (1)

2. Cities Expose Realtime Data

“Thanks to initiatives like OASC and using FIWARE, cities are evolving to the next level of maturity and starting to expose real-time open data.”

Hierro points to the use of FIWARE’s NGSI API that makes this possible. He says that FIWARE has contributed an extension to the open source, open data platform CKAN to enable the data platform (used in over 150 locations around the world and a core open data publishing tool for use amongst OASC member cities). “Our CKAN extension lets cities register data resources that are dynamic,” he says. Realtime data that is drawn from sensors and other sources are accessible as datasets on a city’s CKAN open data platform through the NGSI API.

3. Cities Encourage Third-Party Participation and Monetization

“After that, there will be a third maturity level in which the city not just exploits real-time data but also offers an infrastructure for third parties to enrich the data that the cities are providing and that enables the monetization of data by third parties,” says Hierro.

A second extension contributed by FIWARE to CKAN enables “access rights acquisition” within the data publishing platform.

“Data sources that are published to a city’s CKAN platform can have an access right process connected with it. So some data published on the city’s platform will be free (that is, the traditional usage of CKAN).” Hierro says the possibility of adding access rights means that where open data is provided via API, better access permissions will reduce risks of pulling data from a city in insecure ways that can cause Denial of Service risks. Sometimes, malicious bots target open data APIs and keep asking for data over and over until the sheer volume of requests causes infrastructure problems to the whole city platform. In other cases, developers can make mistakes in how they are trying to request the data to cause similar problems. By having access rights processes in place, a city can open up data via API while also monitoring usage to prevent these risks.

Hierro says access rights processes would also enable city’s to embark on a data economy journey. On the same platform as the city realtime, data, cities could host data from third parties and enable access rights processes to enable those third parties to monetize on the platform. “This would also allow for users to pay or subscribe for a fee to some data sources that would be accessible through the API. That is the way to monetize. Third parties would be able then to access the city’s data catalog to offer some of their data resources so they become published in the same CKAN platform that the city provides.”

FIWARE is working with its partners including CKAN, OASC, and TM Forum to create this infrastructure that will serve the emerging economy of data. “The NGSI API is the way the city will be able to exchange data in real-time, provided by the city and by third parties. The data publication platform will have all the necessary extensions to offer NGSI-based data and also to allow billing with access rights management. And the TM Forum APIs allow for those cases where you are paying or subscribing to get access to a particular data source, and to be able to monetize and run revenue-sharing mechanisms.”

The City as Platform in the Data Economy

To grow through each of these stages of maturity will require a city to think through a platform model. A platform model leverages the infrastructure described above to enable producers and consumers to come together, find what they need, and transact with each other.

It is a new mindset that cities will need to grapple with. For many city departments in the past, they have usually seen their role as providing services for their citizens, visitors, and for local industry. A platform model is changing that worldview.

Cities still have a role to play in providing services, but are doing so in partnership with a wider range of stakeholders. Cities are also needing to enable citizens, visitors and local industry to create their own value by being able to combine the city services and assets they need themselves. For example, citizens are increasingly demanding information about the local transport services as well as realtime parking data, safe walking route information, and ride-hire services. Whereas before a city might see its responsibility as running the local bus service, now its responsibility is to make sure citizens are able to plan and map a multimodal transport journey in the way that they want: to get somewhere by a specific time, to reduce their reliance on a car, or to help them increase their physical activity. Citizens are demanding that cities make the data available so that they can compose their own solutions.

As a city grows in its data economy maturity, its platform model would also grow more sophisticated to enable a greater range of actors to participate.

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“The vision is of enabling multisite markets where different actors can play a role,” says Hierro.

The most basic platform model matches the first stage of maturity: the city publishes open data and third party application providers might be able to create an app using some of this data and sell the application in an app store. For example, an application for local citizens might use city data to map points of interest or community services. Local businesses might use this open data to improve the experience they offer to their customers. A local real estate agent might add a city’s open data about access to services, parkland, or civic complaints data to listings to show the amenity surrounding their sales properties.

As cities advance along the data economy maturity model, the data marketplace platform they provide grows more sophisticated as well. A city could even have an external platform provider manage the data marketplace. Revenue could be split amongst the platform provider, the city, citizens contributing their own crowd-sourcing data, businesses with their own sensors or unique datasets who make their data available for a fee on the platform. App providers might pay for use of datasets in their apps, or be a funnel so that end users pay a subscription fee whenever they access a data source via the app.

“The whole idea is to build the infrastructure that is needed to create multiple business models. You have to find out how to reach sustainability in each business model, but there will be many configurations,” says Hierro. “We can envision business models where there is a benefit for actors that are developing solutions that are aiming to scale across a wide range of cities, but also actors that are just operating locally in the city but are getting some benefit from using local data in their application to improve the local business they are carrying out. This is what would enable the transformation of the city into a platform for the development of services.”

Role of the City as a Data Economy Platform

In Platform Revolution, authors Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary describe the way businesses around the globe are transforming into platform models. This transformation is also affecting cities, and the same principles apply. Parker, Van Alstyne and Choudary explain that a platform model enables the exchange of information, the exchange of goods or services, and the exchange of currency between consumers and producers.

A CKAN listing of what data is available in a city becomes the information that is exchanged. This data is the basic unit of value in the city platform model. Application builders are the consumers who are seeking to use the data in their applications, products and services. The city’s sensor network and open datasets, and the third party providers who make their own data available on the platform are the producers. The role of the city platform then is to connect consumers and producers by hosting the data, allowing app builders to find and use data from city and third party sources. User rights acquisition processes and revenue-sharing APIs enable these “consumers and producers” to buy and sell data, creating a whole new local economy of data.

As cities mature to this stage, they will need to enable application builders to quickly find the datasets that will be useful when they are building solutions. Cities that can help these app makers and businesses to consume the data hosted on their platform will be the ones that are successful in enabling new economic growth.

The infrastructure problem is being solved. FIWARE, OASC and TM Forum have built the components to make an economy of data possible. Now, cities must create the platform models that will encourage interaction, match application builders with data providers, and facilitate new economic opportunity.

“The whole vision is that of providing the tools, and then cities and solution providers will need to come with innovative services,” says Hierro. “We are essentially providing the tools that will enable all of this. Now, cities can encourage entrepreneurs to create innovative services and make use of data sources to enable this economy of data to emerge.”
 

Written by Mark Boyd, Writer and Analyst on smart cities, open data,
APIs and programmable business models at Platformable.

 Posted by at 12:44 pm