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.
The team of AEInnova was expecting to spend the 13th of November 2015 like the previous days, facing the challenges that any entrepreneurial initiative brings, especially in the R&D field. However, everything changed when they got to know that AEInnova was one of the 15 European Energy Startups to be invited to the Generate 15 Semifinals in Groningen on the 22nd and 23rd of November. The Generate 15 was the first Startup Event promoted by the Energy Academy Europe and it was built as an acceleration program to support Energy Startups from all over Europe to build scalable and innovative businesses, faster than they would be able to do on their own.
All the finalists then had to prepare for the Finals on 22nd and 23rd of November with a two-day customized programme. Together with a team of experienced business coaches, the top-facilitator and expert coach Neil Sheridan provided an intensive programme to sharpen the skills of the Energy Startups. As a representative of AEInnova, Gerard Altayó, AEInnova’s Business Developer, attended the two days event. After that, all Startups were ready to give their best and pitch their business ideas. Raul Aragonés, AEInnova’s CEO, did not want to miss the opportunity and joined Gerard in the semifinal pitch. Both presented their idea to a reputed group of business experts and, at the end, AEInnova was selected as one of the Final Five Energy Startups who had the chance to pitch in the Finals of Generate 15 on the 24th of November.
On the 24th, the Finals took place at the Energy Convention and five innovative Energy Startups had the opportunity to pitch in front of a high-profile jury of investors, scientists and established entrepreneurs; the winner receiving €15,000. Unfortunately, the prize stayed in the Netherlands but AEInnova’s opportunities brought to Barcelona a huge learning experience, some interesting contacts and the conviction that AEInnova’s business idea has an enormous potential. That is just the beginning. This is their story…
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.
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.
FIWARE will attend Smart City Expo World Congress (Barcelona), the world´s leading smart city event, where the most innovative and influential smart city thinkers will attend, including global, national and regional representatives, academic institutions, research centers, incubators, investors and top corporations. As an open standard platform for Smart Cities, FIWARE is now providing the basis for an open and sustainable ecosystem where developers, startups and companies can develop their ideas once for multiple cities, thus enabling the transformation of cities into engines of economic growth and welfare. The work of FIWARE has led to the creation of a Digital Single Market for Smart Cities.
So far, more than sixty cities have joined the Open & Agile Smart Cities Initiative, thus adopting common standards to manage context information and make it available as open data. These standards are integrated in the FIWARE platform, laying the foundations of public-private partnerships where cities and platform providers can jointly develop and deploy interoperable Smart digital Services infrastructures. If you want to learn everything that you need to know about the role of technology in cities, about the collaboration to create a standard model of Smart City services or the governmental approach to that model, come and listen to the words of Jesús Villasante, Jarmo Eskelinen or Juanjo Hierro.
There are 5 conferences scheduled, including words from the speakers just mentioned. This agenda will address (1) innovative platforms for multi-stakeholder processes to foster sustainable cities (17/11), (2) raising resources and creating platforms to develop more equitable cities (18/11) (3)technological challenges for urban development & (4)city standards and indicators spreading smart cities (19/11).
Make sure you don´t miss the opportunity to learn what FIWARE brings to smart cities at the FIWARE stand that has been designed to show all of the benefits of becoming part of the ecosystem. The FIWARE stand will offer demos on SME´s, introducing some of the start-ups including Hostabee, TalkyCar and Batsharing, as well as an extra demo on MAPGETS which is an application platform, based on FIWARE.
BlogComments Off on Connecterra wins the Alpha Pitch at Web Summit
“Yesterday was a big day for us”, reads on the 18th of September the blog of Connecterra, one of the startups that have been selected for the FIWARE Accelerator Programme by Smart AgriFood. “At our first ever startup pitch event”, it continues, “Connecterra walked away with top honors with the maximum reward on offer […] Organized by Smart AgriFood, an EU sponsored AgTech accelerator, we beat 48 AgTech startups across Europe to be placed in the top 3 that share top rewards. This is a significant endorsement of our technology, approach and team for which we are proud and grateful to the organizers.”
Less than a month later, the team of Connecterra would win the Alpha Pitch at Web Summit. In its blog, the team of Web Summit shows a brief interview that they made to the winners, proving how humble they are when speaking about their work. “They like to say that they’re the ‘Fitbit for cows’.”, says this blog, “This Amsterdam-based startup’s product can analyse real-time movement data of cattle to help improve farm productivy.” According to this interview, one of the main disadvantages that the team considered that they had, in comparison with other startups, is the fact that their product is not consumer-facing and that not anyone without knowledge about the dairy industry could understand properly what it is.
Connecterra has developed a sensor that measures the activity of a cow in 3D space and by leveraging its deep learning algorithms can detect various behaviors such as walking, eating, ruminating etc. This information is then modeled to provide farmers with health insights which help them reduce labor input and improve animal health resulting in higher productivity from each cow. In addition to providing farmers with insights, their platform also enables veterinarians to observe herd data and provide suggestions to farmers on improving farm practices. This helps democratize farmer knowledge to those that need it most and especially in developing countries.
Connecterra believes the dairy service will help farmers increase productivity per animal by up to 20 % or more. This is the first such service available to dairy farmers which focuses on generating meaning from data and providing farmers with specific, actionable insights versus ‘more data’.
“I think that Connecterra”, said the founder of the startup for the blog of Web Summit, “will have big impact on real-world problems that can be solved with technology but came with an open mind to the pitch.” According to him, thanks to PITCH, they are raising a first round of $2.1 million now. This will help them talk to investors; it gets them global attention.
We hope to keep hearing great news from them, as it’s their stories which build our own.
Blog, eventsComments Off on FIWARE will meet you in ECFI again!
Today, within the ICT domain, developers, accelerators stakeholders, start-ups and investors share the goal to achieve global leadership in ICT by the year 2020. This means that it is important to bring everyone together in order to discuss these paramount topics and questions within the Future Internet so that we can advance closer to where we want to be.
This is where ECFI comes in; the European Conference on the Future Internet centers itself on addressing these questions whilst organising the collaboration of various smart minds to discuss the progress and the inauguration of future innovative internet technologies. ECFI also aims to promote the FIWARE community, who share this same dream. As the platform which not only offers the necessary funding (thanks to the FIWARE accelerator programme) but eases the creation of these smart applications and services, FIWARE offers an original ecosystem that makes the open data available.
All of these topics will be addressed during a busy agenda taking place in Hamburg, from lectures & workshops to time dedicated to exchanging information and networking with those that share your very same opinions and interests. Be sure not to miss out on hearing some of the world´s most influential speakers discuss the future internet and get the opportunity to learn more about the FIWARE Regions initiative, promoted by FIWARE Mundus (6th Nov) which focuses on decision-making, sustaining innovative ecosystems and ultimately, developing smart cities.
By participating in ECFI 2015 this week, you will have the opportunity to connect and discuss with representatives in the ICT domain the key questions surrounding the future internet, so everyone gains something from the constructive networking sessions. No-one within this ecosystem can advance and succeed alone so we need you all there to move forward in this imperative step towards leadership in ICT. The ECFI conference will be rounded off by a closing ceremony taking place at 20h on 6th November.
This is an event not to be missed if you, like us, are interested and committed to the advancement of the future internet and the creation of smart applications and services by increasing and extending our knowledge to achieve what we know we can do.
For more details on the agenda scheduled for the ECFI event, practical information on locations and hotels as well as contact information, visit the ECFI homepage.