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.
The 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.
FIWARE is helping power a major new city initiative that is helping one Brazilian city embark on an ambitious city-as-platform approach. The Brazilian startup VM9 is creating a smart cities platform that has already been adopted by the Brazilian city of Nova Friburgo, in Rio de Janeiro.
VM9 are currently working with Nova Friburgo to establish a digital interface for citizens to connect with the local municipality and to carry out tasks like checking and providing feedback on planning legislation, creating their own maps, or making a public service request.
Citizen Portal: Meio Ambiente Digital
“The Municipal Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Urban Development (“Secretaria do Meio Ambiente”) is the organ of municipal government in Nova Friburgo responsible for a great number of activities related to territorial management, including licensing and civil constructions monitoring, supervision of environment preservation areas, and urban planning”, explains Marcos Marconi, Founder and IT coordinator at VM9.
The Municipal Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Urban Development uses the VM9 Smart Cities Platform to provide better services to citizens and improve internal productivity through the portal Meio Ambiente Digital.
Marconi says the current project for the digital portal has been divided into two phases. He explains:
The first objectives are:
To construct a robust municipal geospatial database to be publish for citizens and provide internal support for technicians of the Secretary during approval process of licensing and others, and
To simplify and improve the services offered for citizens from digital workflows of public requests and enhance internal management.
The second phase will start in 2017 and will be used to monitor air and water quality, environmental conditions, etc and to publish information to citizens through a variety of communication channels.
Marconi says that as a pilot project, Meio Ambiente Digital is already receiving much interest and praise.
Government and City as a Platform
In 2013, media publisher and tech visionary Tim O’Reilly wrote a key paper on “Government as a Platform”. This seminal text summarised the many global initiatives that demonstrate an emerging new approach to how government services are created and delivered. Instead of citizens being receivers of government services — with their main input being to vote every election cycle — O’Reilly envisions a new approach to government where “Internet technologies will allow us to rebuild the kind of participatory government”. O’Reilly describes the concept of Government as a Platform:
There is a new compact on the horizon: information produced by and on behalf of citizens is the lifeblood of the economy and the nation; government has a responsibility to treat that information as a national asset. Citizens are connected like never before and have the skill sets and passion to solve problems affecting them locally as well as nationally. Government information and services can be provided to citizens where and when they need them. Citizens are empowered to spark the innovation that will result in an improved approach to governance. In this model, government is a convener and an enabler rather than the first mover of civic action.
O’Reilly’s paper has encouraged the then-fledgling civic tech movement to evolve even further, and while we are still at the start of this journey, there are now many tech startups (like VM9) around the world focused on helping government engage with citizens and help citizens co-create government services and participatory mechanisms.
These ideas of government-as-a-platform are also being thought of in terms of the “City as a Platform”. In many ways, cities may be faster at being able to take up the challenge of evolving into platforms. Government institutions can be huge monoliths that must meet the diverse needs of a geographically dispersed population. Cities, on the other hand, are where we live, work, and play every day and are at a much more human scale of participation. We all want a say over the areas we live in, how accessible is our transport and walkability, our access to resources like schools, supermarkets, and childcare, our local air and water quality, our safety, and our free movement and leisure opportunities.
Historically, cities have been governed through nineteenth and twentieth-century ideas of civic organization and social norms. Much revolves around representative governance and centrally directed bureaucracies overseen by experts using strict, formal rules of procedure. Conceiving of cities as platforms represents a significant shift in how cities might function. An open platform honours self-organized, bottom-up participation in the style of open source software, for example. It regards rigid and complex rule-sets and non-transparency as irksome impediments.
VM9 as a City Platform Hub
Startups like VM9 are leveraging FIWARE to help cities implement this new platform model.
To make the ambitious project achievable, the VM9 team has divided its scope into 5 interconnected project areas, with each also able to operate as independent services.
Marconi lists these five areas as:
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
This module — called FI-Guardian — “is totally based on FIWARE GEs”, says Marconi. “It is being developed in partnership with the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU) with a grant provided by National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) under the Human Resources in Strategic Areas (RHAE) initiative. The FIWARE components are deployed in the FIWARE Lab infrastructure hosted by UFU”.
Marconi shares an early iteration of how the IoT Module makes use of FIWARE to create an IoT module for use by the city and its partners:
2. Web Geographic Information System (WebGIS)
“Here we have a WebGIS module which manages a GeoSpatial Database to deliver interfaces to citizens as interactive maps, geospatial searches, and geoinformation publishing”, Marconi explains. In this way it can be used completely independently, but Marconi also says as part of the platform it is integrated with the business process management project to “create a powerful Territorial Intelligence System which helps analysts and technicians to conclude analyses about processes related to urban planning and city growth".
3. Business Process Management (BPM)
This is at the core of the first phase of Meio Ambiente Digital and is an excellent real world example of what city-as-a-platform can mean in practice. “It lets citizens make administrative requirements for the government, monitor the progress of processes, printing payslips, make online payments, and fulfil desired requirements. This could include building approvals, obtaining environmental licenses, any procedures that need administrative interaction between governments and citizens. It is based on an smart motor of logical workflow controls, dynamic and configurable forms, notifications panels, permission rules, and level of authorities. With this module, institutions can become more efficient and, at the same time, deliver comfort and simplicity to citizens and customers”, says Marconi.
4. Electronic Content Management (ECM)
“This delivers an advanced system to create interrelationship between contents (photos, videos, sites and documents in general) and geographic data, in order to structure rich computerized geographical information databases to be published to citizens or used for technical teams, in order to qualifies digital workflows”.
5. Digital Communication Management (DCM)
This area will connect the IoT module — for example, for measuring air and water quality and environmental conditions — with communication channels that share the information in an accessible format to citizens and business.
In stage one, the focus is on the WebGIS (project 2), automated workflows for citizen engagement with planning and service requests (project 3) and content management that supports these areas (project 4).
Marconi says modules 2, 3, and 4 are all now working and available to citizens, having been deployed on April 18th this year.
In early 2017, VM9 will focus on the IoT (project 1) as document communication (project 5).
FIWARE generic enablers, such as the GIS Data Provider GE, are being used to power the current work in stage one to enable citizens to create their own maps through the Meio Ambiente platform. “We also have the strong intention to use Kurento GE in the project related to Digital Communication Management”, says Marconi.
A true smart city platform solution goes beyond efficiency of public service delivery to look at local economic development opportunities, and Marconi is excited about the work that VM9 has planned in this regard:
"Combos IOT is the next challenge for VM9. These will be pre-built packages of hardware and software, integrated with the VM9 Platform and focused on specific needs of the market, such as: environmental monitoring, health, urban mobility, etc. The objective is to simplify and accelerate the IoT adoption for our customers, through the delivery of complete solutions (plug-and-play) for specific IoT vertical markets".
The VM9 team is now racing to complete all module work by March 2017.
They say that good things come in threes. New ideas are easier to understand when they are broken into three components. We are more likely to remember information when it is divided up into three categories. And organising things into threes has a more engaging rhythm that helps us flow along with a new concept.
So it was probably not that surprising to see so many thinkers, city leaders, and urban influencers talk in sets of three at last week’s Connected Smart Cities Conference, organised by the Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) Initiative and FIWARE. The Connected Smart Cities Conference brought together over 200 European and international participants working in cities, European governments, businesses, incubators, startups and industry associations to discuss how the smart city agenda is unfolding, and what we can collectively do to support goals happening more effectively and quickly.
The Three Big Challenges for Smart Cities
Jarmo Eskelinen, from OASC started the day by helping us quickly understand three of the greatest challenges ahead for cities, their citizens, and the tech businesses currently building a new generation of smart city solutions.
Eskelinen explained the three challenges as: speed, scale and solutions.
1. Speed: “Cities tend to be slow in changing,” said Eskelinen. He said this was part of the history of building trust and maintaining the confidence and security of a city’s residents which has meant that city management culture has become monolithic and slow to adapt. This is now working against cities, as “Digitisation requires an agile approach”. Eskelinen says to seize the advantage of digitisation and the potential of a smart city infrastructure, cities must learn to harness a speed to act while still maintaining trust with local citizens.
2. Scale: “Cities tend to think they have to solve problems themselves as they have unique challenges, but mostly cities are tackling similar challenges, and no city can support an ecosystem of solutions in itself,” says Eskelinen. While it is true that every city does have its unique and often complex geographical, political, historical and cultural drivers, we must look more for some commonalities across cities in order to help identify the common elements for a smart city solution so that it can scale to other cities.
3. Solutions: “If we have scalable solutions with big vendors, then cities are locked in, we will be hijacked by proprietary software,” warned Eskelinen. He emphasised the need for solutions to be built on open source frameworks so that cities and startups can build solutions that are portable and interchangeable with future technology.
This was a theme that came up repeatedly during the day. Mikael Grannas, Mayor of Sipoo, in Finland, for example, also highlighted the difficulties that cities face when they are stuck with buying proprietary software that they are locked in to and cannot build on top of or collaborate with startups and new civic tech projects. He said vendor lock in was a key example of how technology is preventing cities from providing services. He gave the example of how close to 50% of the work time of a city’s children’s nurse can be taken up by duplicating and copying data from one system to another because vendor lock-in does not have integrations between various proprietary software solutions. This is work that should be automated and would mean that nurses could spend more time with local families.
The Three Tech Principles of the OASC
FIWARE Chief Architect, Juanjo Hierro, also spoke of a key set of threes: the three technological principles that are shared by the 75 city members of the Open and Agile Smart Cities Initiative.
Hierro outlined the three technologies necessary to drive smart city project development, which also, in a way, responds to the three challenges outlined by Eskelinen.
1.A Common API for getting access to the city on realtime: Hierro said the FIWARE NGSI (Next Generation Service Interface) API enables cities to use a single API to draw in a whole range of realtime sensor and open data and feed it into a format that is machine -readable and can be used to create applications and new product solutions.
2.Standards that enable a platform to be built: Hierro believes that the use of standards and a common API does not prevent industry competition. In fact, he says that in the smart cities space, what is emerging is a “coopetition” where partners collaborate at times, and compete at other times. He gave the example that several competitors could each build their own platform for applications that publishes data from the NGSI API. Standards are at the core of this platform approach, but still allow individual businesses to provide unique, marketable solutions.
Responding to Eskelinen’s ‘scale’ challenge, Hierro said FIWARE’s NGSI API is “essential for being able to help develop solutions that can plug and play in different cities.”
3.Information models driven by an implementation-first approach: Hierro said the third technological principle of OASC smart city projects is the development of information models. He pointed to Helsinki’s CitySDK as a best practice example of this approach. Each city may have its own data needs and need for subsets of data, but if there is a common core set of data sets that are the same for all cities, then solutions can be built that can be replicated and customised to other city needs.
Hierro said that CitySDK was built by trying to respond to a local need and then this was piloted in several other cities. In this way, it was possible to identify what needs for data the cities had in common, and those were included as essential components in the data model. Hierro said this was a much faster and effective way to build than by starting with a top-down approach where a committee makes all of those decisions.
“This is where we are now,” said Hierro. “We are showcasing examples of applications being applied in cities to solve problems and we are able to extract information to create a model that can be transferred to other cities.”
Three FIWARE Examples
Throughout the day, speakers mentioned how the FIWARE platform was enabling new smart cities solutions to be built and shared across Europe and around the world. Here are three stories we loved hearing about:
1.The City of Eindhoven: Olha Bondarenko, from the City of Eindhoven in The Netherlands said the whole city is a Living Laboratory that uses sensors, LED lights, sound systems, and citizen engagement to create a new level of interaction and place making between residents and the city authority.
For example, in areas that have high levels of activity at night, sound sensors are able to identify changes in crowd speaking patterns to to identify risks for fights so that police can resolve disturbances before they get ugly or violent.
Sensors have also been installed across the city and even included in resident volunteer backpacks so that there is widespread coverage available to measure air quality across the city. It is hoped this data could be used to help the city traffic management work with citizens to redirect traffic in the city to reduce pollution risks and contamination build up.
FIWARE is used as an enabling technology for many of these projects, and the City of Eindhoven is currently embarking on a city consultation to discuss the possibility of applying FIWARE across all the Living Labs sites as a digital layer, after the community agree on a common value base regarding privacy, ethics and the use of technology for the common good of the city.
Bondarenko said the next work will be to safeguard the public interest, stimulate economic development and build support for an organic approach to future proofing the city.
2.CreatiFI: Ingrid Willems, from iMinds and CreatiFI, shared details of some of the 60 smart creative projects funded to use FIWARE products to the market. Amongst the startups using FIWARTE technologies, Willems mentioned Protopixel that uses lighting to create dynamic, interactive experiences in public spaces and Ireland’s Artomatix which is helping build a new local gaming industry by providing design teams and startups with new tools for automated repetitive design for backgrounds and design.
3.Creative Ring: Alain Heureux, Founder of the Brussels startup incubator The Egg, spoke of the work he has done to build a new generation of startups who are inspired to build their own company and work with other startups to create a network of new businesses that stimulate economic development and create new job opportunities for a wider demographic of local citizens. Here has also been instrumental in establishing the Creative Ring Network, which will be hosting the #hack4FI Creative Ring Challenge in Finland, where developers can win up to €50,000 to build a solution that uses FIWARE to create new cultural and heritage-focused products.
The Connected Smart Cities Conference was an inspiring start to 2016, promising another energising year of activity from cities, startups and industry in using FIWARE to create a new approach to smart cities infrastructure so that it is open, enables local economic development, and encourages the participation of local citizens.
Cities are almost as old as society itself, their birth being surrounded by mysteries and legends such as the one of Romulus and Remus and the foundation of Rome. Since then, since the times of Roman urbanism, our urban environments have changed a lot. Not only in terms of distribution or legislation, but, especially, in terms of city management. And now, the new trend in city management is the creation of smart environments. We have already spoken about the smartness of devices, but now we can speak about cities that can manage their own information for the benefit of citizens.
And, for FIWARE, these urban environments, which are generally called Smart Cities, have been essential, as some of our enablers are meant to deal with the traffic of information that only places such as cities can generate. Apart from that, the Open & Agile Smart Cities Initiative is now modeling a standardized procedure to cope with data, so that the solutions created for one city can be adapted for others.
Some of the most interesting projects that have been founded and funded thanks to the FIWARE Accelerator Programme are actually destined to develop solutions in this field. That is why it is now the time to give them the floor and listen to the voices of those really working to improve the places we live in. Because their voices are our own.
It is hardly possible to remember when the word “smart” was first used to describe a service, or some kind of technology, or a city. Shortly after we heard someone speak about smartphones for the first time, we were speaking of smart televisions, smart washing machines or even smart houses. But none of them were showing what we understood as smart behavior. Or maybe they were, ‘cause, in the end, what do we mean by “smart”? Smart means context-aware, i.e. able to receive and analyze all of the data that is generated and transmitted around a particular device. So, maybe a fridge will never quote Plato by heart or get touched by a sonnet, but it can already count the number of, say, eggs it contains and, in case they are less than expected, tell you that you should go to the supermarket before you run out of them.
If that happens with just an appliance, imagine which the expectations were for a whole city. The whole urban area could be translated into data that, once interpreted, could be used for the benefit of citizens. You don’t need to go that far to see that, because, even if we did not notice, smartness has come to stay. When FIWARE was born, it offered a set of APIs that were supposed to fulfill those smart functionalities that developers may want to implement in their applications. After a while, they proved to be quite useful for urban data and environments.
75 cities from all over the world have already joined what we have called the Open & Agile Smart Cities Initiative, an effort to standardize the procedures that cities use when coping with data. Some of them, such as Porto (Portugal), are making such a great use of these standards that have become an example of what a smart city must be, while also fostering its existing entrepreneurial tissue with collaborations such as the one with Ubiwhere. The common incentive shared by both cities and initiatives is the drive to form a collaborative network and to deploy strategies with a common objective to promote cities. This ecosystem provides the standards to integrate data, where the FIWARE platform offers endless opportunities to work with other entities in order to achieve this goal. It allows the collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and the integration of data in order to create application and advance smart cities. This is the fuel that engines the applications making cities become smart cities.
The focus on real-time data is something that the European Open Data Portal has also considered when making its agreement with FIWARE. From now on, the data that is contained in that portal will not only be part of the archive, but will also be shown in real time. That update offers a wide range of possibilities. Not only is the offering of data important, but also the treatment that we, as users, make of them; an aspect that has also been considered in the joint effort of TM Forum and FIWARE to improve the management of data. TM Forum’s Ecosystem APIs, including Product Catalog, Product Ordering and Product Inventory, will be incorporated within the specifications and open source reference implementation of the FIWARE Business Framework. This Framework enables the management and the monetization of different kinds of digital assets involving multiple partners.
And now, looking back on all that has been done since the FIWARE adventure began, the trace that we have left behind is not only that of agreements and intentions, but a group of applications that are already offering smart services. Hostabee, MejoraTuCiudad, BatSharing, TalkyCar… The list seems almost endless. And their success has turned out to be ours, ‘cause the real goal of our work has always been making them able to manage data from cities to build real applications for real users. It is true, we can hardly remember the first time we heard someone using “smart” to define a service, but we are so glad and thankful to have become part of that trend, that it is our commitment to keep on working to create the smartest of places for citizens.
Amersfoort –Six Dutch cities signed the Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) letter of intent to join an initiative that will create smart cities based on the needs of cities and communities. Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Enschede, Rotterdam and Utrecht declared to join forces and accelerate the smart city wave by adapting the FIWARE Lab NL platform.
The Dutch Open & Agile Smart Cities initiative aims to create an open smart city based on the needs of the market. Cities need interoperability and standards to boost competitiveness by avoiding vendor lock-in, comparability to benchmark performance, and easy sharing of best practices. But most of all, they need practical solutions.
The Dutch OASC cities achieve their vision by adopting four simple mechanisms:
1. Disclose data
To ensure that all cities and developers can disclose the already existing data, FIWARE Lab NL created a CKAN environment in which data will be free to use, but the ownership will remain at the person responsible for delivering the data. In addition to the CKAN environment a CITY SDK solution will enable developers to connect several datasets with each other.
2. Implementation attitude
The participating OASC cities, interested companies and developers also have the opportunity to hand over specific projects and problems that include the use of data for integrated smart city solutions. The lab aims to deliver solutions that will lead to practical implementations within the OASC cities for governments, companies or other developers.
3. OASC cities and their communities
The OASC cities will support regional, national and international open data events like IT Smart Cities at Amersfoort or Amsterdam Smart City. The FIWARE Lab NL will also organise several OASC challenges. These meet-ups will challenge application developers to develop open and agile application for the smart cities by aligning different projects and to create a successful data platform.
4. European connection
FIWARE Lab NL will coordinate open smart city activities in the Netherlands with a connection with the OASC cities. Every city will create alliances with different projects within their city to ensure the local and regional commitment. Amersfoort will remain to be the coordinating city for all the OASC cities. This project will also explore the European potential of the data platform and share results on regular meetings and events.
About FIWARE Lab NL
Fiware Lab NL is the initiative of a consortium with members Deloitte, Civity, Elba-Rec, Onetrail and Xcellent. The Province of Utrecht supports this investment in this innovation infrastructure. Fiware Lab NL is located in Utrecht and Amersfoort.
Data is the fuel for any smart service. So a new partnership between FIWARE and the European Data Portal is instrumental in opening a fountain of open data sources from European cities and nations able to be used in the design and delivery of new new services and applications.
The new European Open Data Portal launched on 16 November 2015 is the major European data asset available for free for anyone to use, with already around 250,000 datasets available through a multilingual interface. Users are allowed to easily download data at the source or directly consume data analysis through interactive visualizations.
The collaboration with FIWARE will help bring this data even closer to the fingertips of the growing open community of thousands of FIWARE developers, startups and new users in Europe and worldwide.
Startups – like Hostabee – are working on the FIWARE platform and are already identifying opportunities to augment their services and products by using open data.
Hostabee are winners of a past FIWARE hackathon, alum of the FIWARE Innovation Hub, and one of FIWARE’s accelerator startups. They have recently showcased their bee-keeping urban farm product at Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. Hostabee rely on open data sources to understand the vegetation in the city areas where they will be offering their services so that they can better evaluate quality and the effects on honey-making.
The capacity of a new generation of smart services like Hostabee to use open data is expected to be a major leverage point for creating an open data market that is worth €75.7 billion by 2020, according to European Open Data Portal research.
In the future, FIWARE and the EU Open Data Portal will jointly consider ways to harvest the trend towards more real-time open data by using the de-facto standard FIWARE NGSI. This collaboration among two leading European ICT initiatives shows the interest of the public and private partnership supporting these and, our capacity to set standards and is clearly another step towards a European Single Digital Market.
Imagine walking or driving through a city and the city itself tells you which trendy spots to check out, where to park your car in that moment, or which areas to avoid because of air quality or traffic congestion. In Porto, Portugal, this vision has become a reality and the city itself is already communicating directly with residents, tourists and even startup businesses using FIWARE standards and the UrbanSense platform.
As one of the first cities that joined the Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) initiative back in March this year, Porto has been a pioneer city adopting FIWARE standards with the support of Ubiwhere, a Portuguese company experienced in the development of middleware and platforms. A key instrument in the development of Porto’s open city platform is the UrbanSense infrastructure, which was developed under the European funded project Future Cities Project. The Future Cities Project is a partnership between the University of Porto and the City Council aiming to create a Competence Centre for Future Cities in the city of Porto. Together, but also with the participation of the Citibrain joint-venture, the city of Porto and Ubiwhere have developed the interfaces bringing access to real-time, contextual environmental data from 75 fixed and mobile units (monitoring stations) located across the city. The data is augmented by scanners installed on the city Council’s 200+ fleet of vehicles, creating a large-scale mobile scanner. External providers like the city’s water supplier, transport data providers, social media data and business startup statistics are all plugged in to the platform to allow the city itself to guide you as you explore, travel, and work. The city of Porto now has plans to leverage the results of this work and expand the FIWARE/OASC-compliant urban platform to become the central point of its new integrated management and control center. Another example of the Porto’s full commitment in the OASC initiative, the city of Porto has just created a competition (www.desafiosporto.pt) to support the development of applications on top of its integrated management and control center platform. With this competition, the city, in partnership with 4 large companies (NOS, CEIIA, EDP and EY) will fund up to 4 solutions with a total of 250 thousands of euros available.
Following the steps taken by Porto, and again with the support of Ubiwhere, several other Portuguese cities (e.g. Águeda, Aveiro, São João da Madeira and Torres Vedras) are starting to provide real-time data on mobility/ transportation and environment.
The key to helping the city communicate effectively is to have partnerships with companies like the location and mapping provider HERE. The HERE platform is behind the navigator system embedded in most of the cars and communication with the city, which would enable the display of real-time open data in navigation maps, improving the overall user experience.
One of the issues for companies like HERE when they are trying to build applications/services for end users is the lack of smart city de-facto standard interfaces, enabling homogeneous access to relevant data. As a result, integrating real-time open data exported by any city requires the development of software adapters which are costly and take time to become ready.
If cities were exporting the data in a standard manner, creating an application that can be developed once and work in cities around the world would be feasible.
Lack of standard interfaces for accessing real-time data of cities becomes a rather huge challenge for SMEs and startups because they cannot afford to repeat the development of adapters in each city. While the benefits for end users can be great, they are too high to be passed on through a low-costing app, which has held back the smart cities, Internet of Things, and civic tech industries so far.
The FIWARE NGSI standard API enabling access to information of what is going on in OASC cities makes plugging a wide range of real-time sensor data into its platform much easier. It allows businesses like HERE to create a solution first tested in the city of Porto, involving citizens and travellers, which can be ported without changes or adaptation to other cities, currently 75, that are signed up to OASC.
“We are able to add another layer of insight into the HERE platform; localizing it more and making it more specific to the user,” said James Marugg, Sr Account Executive at HERE. “The FIWARE Open Platform allows for vast amounts of data to be received and fed into other systems.”
Using the FIWARE standards, the UrbanSense platform is able to support a number of applications that enable the city to talk directly to residents and visitors and can be ported to those cities that will become part of the OASC initiative:
HERE’s mapping application that lets travellers map their directions, avoid contributing to areas of high traffic pollution and drive directly to an available car parking space in real time;
A travel app that tells visitors which sites are then trending in that moment in travellers recommendations;
Applications that help share relevant data and information to help new businesses locate their offices and shopfronts;
An application to improve Quality of Life that, among others, monitors levels of UV radiation;
A water management app that lets residents compare their water consumption with others’ based on profiles.
The Ubiwhere, Citibrain and HERE demos were showcased at the SCEWC Smart City Plaza and FIWARE booth this week in Barcelona, while more cities also announced they joined the OASC Initiative.