Get Smart: Commission brings “open planning” movement to Europe to speed spread of smart cities


Press Release: “The European Commission is calling on those involved in creating smart cities to publish their efforts in order to help build an open planning movement from the ground up.
The challenge is being issued to city administrations, small and large companies and other organisations to go public with their ICT, energy and mobility plans, so that all parties can learn from each other and grow the smart city market. Through collaboration as well as traditional competition, the Europe will get smarter, more competitive and more sustainable.
The Commission is looking for both new commitments to “get smart” and for interested parties to share their current and past successes. Sharing these ideas will feed the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (see IP/13/1159 and MEMO/13/1049) and networks such as the Smart Cities Stakeholder Platform, the Green Digital Charter, the Covenant of Mayors, and CIVITAS.
What’s in it for me?
If you are working in the smart cities field, joining the open planning movement will help you find the right partners, get better access to finance and make it easier to learn from your peers. You will help grow the marketplace you work in, and create export opportunities outside of Europe.
If you live in a city, you will benefit sooner from better traffic flows, greener buildings, and cheaper or more convenient services.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said, “For those of us living in cities, – we need to make sure they are smart cities. Nothing else makes sense. And nothing else is such a worldwide economic opportunity – so we need to get sharing!”.
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: “Cities and Communities can only get smart if mayors and governors are committed to apply innovative industrial solutions”.
In June 2014 the Commission will then seek to analyse, group and promote the best plans and initiatives.”

L’intelligence d’une ville : ses citoyens


Michel Dumais: “Tic toc! disions-nous. Bientôt la centième. Et avec la cent-unième, de nouveaux défis. Ville intelligente, disiez-vous? Je subodore le traditionnel appel de pied aux trois lettres et à une logique administrative archaïque. Et si on faisait plutôt appel à l’intelligence de ceux qui connaissent le plus leur ville, ses citoyens?

Pour régler un problème (et même à l’occasion, un «pas d’problème»), les administrations regardent du côté de ces logiciels mammouth qui, sur papier, sont censés faire tout, qui engloutissent des centaines de millions de dollars, mais qui, finalement, font les manchettes des médias parce qu’il faut y injecter encore plus d’argent. Et qui permettent aux TI d’asseoir encore plus leur contrôle sur une administration.

Bref, lorsque l’on parle de ville intelligente, plusieurs y voient le pactole. Ah! Reste que ce qui était «acceptable», hier, ne l’est plus aujourd’hui. Et que la réalisation d’une ville intelligente n’est surtout pas un défi technologique, loin de là.

LA QUESTION DU SANS-FIL
Il y a des années de cela, la simple logique eut voulu que la Ville cesse de penser «big telcos» afin de conclure rapidement une alliance avec l’organisme communautaire «Île sans fil» et ainsi favoriser le déploiement rapide sur l’île de la technologie sans fil.

Une telle alliance, un modèle dans le genre, existe.

Mais pas à Montréal. Plutôt à Québec, alors que la Ville et l’organisme communautaire «Zap Québec» travaillent main dans la main pour le plus grand bénéfice des citoyens de Québec et des touristes. Et à Montréal? On jase, on jase.

Donc, une ville intelligente. C’est une ville qui sait, à l’aide des technologies, comment harnacher ses infrastructures et les mettre au service de ses citoyens tout en réalisant des économies et en favorisant le développement durable.

C’est aussi une ville qui sait écouter et mobiliser ses citoyens, ses militants et ses entrepreneurs, tout en leur donnant des outils (comme des données utilisables) afin qu’ils puissent eux aussi créer des services destinés à leur organisation et à tous les citoyens de la ville. Sans compter que tous ces outils facilitent la prise de décisions chez les maires d’arrondissement et le comité exécutif.

Bref, une ville intelligente selon le professeur Rudolf Giffinger, c’est ça: «une économie intelligente, une mobilité intelligente, un environnement intelligent, des habitants intelligents, un mode de vie intelligent et, enfin, une administration intelligente».

J’invite le lecteur à regarder LifeApps, une extraordinaire série télé diffusée sur le site de la chaîne AlJazeera. Le sujet: des jeunes et de moins jeunes militants, bidouilleurs, qui s’impliquent et créent des services pour leur communauté.”

How Open Data Are Turned into Services?


New Paper by Muriel Foulonneau, Sébastien Martin, Slim Turki: “The Open Data movement has mainly been a data provision movement. The release of Open Data is usually motivated by (i) government transparency (citizen access to government data), (ii) the development of services by third parties for the benefit for citizens and companies (typically smart city approach), or (iii) the development of new services that stimulate the economy. The success of the Open Data movement and its return on investment should therefore be assessed among other criteria by the number and impact of the services created based on those data. In this paper, we study the development of services based on open data and means to make the data opening process more effective.”

The Emergence Of The Connected City


Glen Martin at Forbes: “If the modern city is a symbol for randomness — even chaos — the city of the near future is shaping up along opposite metaphorical lines. The urban environment is evolving rapidly, and a model is emerging that is more efficient, more functional, more — connected, in a word.
This will affect how we work, commute, and spend our leisure time. It may well influence how we relate to one another, and how we think about the world. Certainly, our lives will be augmented: better public transportation systems, quicker responses from police and fire services, more efficient energy consumption. But there could also be dystopian impacts: dwindling privacy and imperiled personal data. We could even lose some of the ferment that makes large cities such compelling places to live; chaos is stressful, but it can also be stimulating.
It will come as no surprise that converging digital technologies are driving cities toward connectedness. When conjoined, ISM band transmitters, sensors, and smart phone apps form networks that can make cities pretty darn smart — and maybe more hygienic. This latter possibility, at least, is proposed by Samrat Saha of the DCI Marketing Group in Milwaukee. Saha suggests “crowdsourcing” municipal trash pick-up via BLE modules, proximity sensors and custom mobile device apps.
“My idea is a bit tongue in cheek, but I think it shows how we can gain real efficiencies in urban settings by gathering information and relaying it via the Cloud,” Saha says. “First, you deploy sensors in garbage cans. Each can provides a rough estimate of its fill level and communicates that to a BLE 112 Module.”
As pedestrians who have downloaded custom “garbage can” apps on their BLE-capable iPhone or Android devices pass by, continues Saha, the information is collected from the module and relayed to a Cloud-hosted service for action — garbage pick-up for brimming cans, in other words. The process will also allow planners to optimize trash can placement, redeploying receptacles from areas where need is minimal to more garbage-rich environs….
Garbage can connectivity has larger implications than just, well, garbage. Brett Goldstein, the former Chief Data and Information Officer for the City of Chicago and a current lecturer at the University of Chicago, says city officials found clear patterns between damaged or missing garbage cans and rat problems.
“We found areas that showed an abnormal increase in missing or broken receptacles started getting rat outbreaks around seven days later,” Goldstein said. “That’s very valuable information. If you have sensors on enough garbage cans, you could get a temporal leading edge, allowing a response before there’s a problem. In urban planning, you want to emphasize prevention, not reaction.”
Such Cloud-based app-centric systems aren’t suited only for trash receptacles, of course. Companies such as Johnson Controls are now marketing apps for smart buildings — the base component for smart cities. (Johnson’s Metasys management system, for example, feeds data to its app-based Paoptix Platform to maximize energy efficiency in buildings.) In short, instrumented cities already are emerging. Smart nodes — including augmented buildings, utilities and public service systems — are establishing connections with one another, like axon-linked neurons.
But Goldstein, who was best known in Chicago for putting tremendous quantities of the city’s data online for public access, emphasizes instrumented cities are still in their infancy, and that their successful development will depend on how well we “parent” them.
“I hesitate to refer to ‘Big Data,’ because I think it’s a terribly overused term,” Goldstein said. “But the fact remains that we can now capture huge amounts of urban data. So, to me, the biggest challenge is transitioning the fields — merging public policy with computer science into functional networks.”…”

A Bottom-Up Smart City?


Alicia Rouault at Data-Smart City Solutions: “America’s shrinking cities face a tide of disinvestment, abandonment, vacancy, and a shift toward deconstruction and demolition followed by strategic reinvestment, rightsizing, and a host of other strategies designed to renew once-great cities. Thriving megacity regions are experiencing rapid growth in population, offering a different challenge for city planners to redefine density, housing, and transportation infrastructure. As cities shrink and grow, policymakers are increasingly called to respond to these changes by making informed, data-driven decisions. What is the role of the citizen in this process of collecting and understanding civic data?
Writing for Forbes in “Open Sourcing the Neighborhood,” Professor of Sociology at Columbia University Saskia Sassen calls for “open source urbanism” as an antidote to the otherwise top-down smart city movement. This form of urbanism involves opening traditional verticals of information within civic and governmental institutions. Citizens can engage with and understand the logic behind decisions by exploring newly opened administrative data. Beyond opening these existing datasets, Sassen points out that citizen experts hold invaluable institutional memory that can serve as an alternate and legitimate resource for policymakers, economists, and urban planners alike.
In 2012, we created a digital platform called LocalData to address the production and use of community-generated data in a municipal context. LocalData is a digital mapping service used globally by universities, non-profits, and municipal governments to gather and understand data at a neighborhood scale. In contrast to traditional Census or administrative data, which is produced by a central agency and collected infrequently, our platform provides a simple method for both community-based organizations and municipal employees to gather real-time data on project-specific indicators: property conditions, building inspections, environmental issues or community assets. Our platform then visualizes data and exports it into formats integrated with existing systems in government to seamlessly provide accurate and detailed information for decision makers.
LocalData began as a project in Detroit, Michigan where the city was tackling a very real lack of standard, updated, and consistent condition information on the quality and status of vacant and abandoned properties. Many of these properties were owned by the city and county due to high foreclosure rates. One of Detroit’s strategies for combating crime and stabilizing neighborhoods is to demolish property in a targeted fashion. This strategy serves as a political win as much as providing an effective way to curb the secondary effects of vacancy: crime, drug use, and arson. Using LocalData, the city mapped critical corridors of emergent commercial property as an analysis tool for where to place investment, and documented thousands of vacant properties to understand where to target demolition.
Vacancy is not unique to the Midwest. Following our work with the Detroit Mayor’s office and planning department, LocalData has been used in dozens of other cities in the U.S. and abroad. Currently the Smart Chicago Collaborative is using LocalData to conduct a similar audit of vacant and abandoned property in southwest Chicagos. Though an effective tool for capturing building-specific information, LocalData has also been used to capture behavior and movement of goods. The MIT Megacities Logistics Lab has used LocalData to map and understand the intensity of urban supply chains by interviewing shop owners and mapping delivery routes in global megacities in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and the U.S. The resulting information has been used with analytical models to help both city officials and companies to design better city logistics policies and operations….”

Are Smart Cities Empty Hype?


Irving Wladawsky-Berger in the Wall Street Journal: “A couple of weeks ago I participated in an online debate sponsored by The Economist around the question: Are Smart Cities Empty Hype? Defending the motion was Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute for the Future and adjunct faculty member at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. I took the opposite side, arguing the case against the motion.
The debate consisted of three phases spread out over roughly 10 days. We each first stated our respective positions in our opening statements, followed a few days later by our rebuttals, and then finally our closing statements.  It was moderated by Ludwig Siegele, online business and finance editor at The Economist. Throughout the process, people were invited to vote on the motion, as well as to post their own comments.
The debate was inspired, I believe, by The Multiplexed Metropolis, an article Mr. Siegele published in the September 7 issue of The Economist which explored the impact of Big Data on cities. He wrote that the vast amounts of data generated by the many social interactions taking place in cities might lead to a kind of second electrification, transforming 21st century cities much as electricity did in the past. “Enthusiasts think that data services can change cities in this century as much as electricity did in the last one,” he noted. “They are a long way from proving their case.”
In my opening statement, I said that I strongly believe that digital technologies and the many data services they are enabling will make cities smarter and help transform them over time. My position is not surprising, given my affiliations with NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and Imperial College’s Digital City Exchange, as well as my past involvements with IBM’s Smarter Cities and with Citigroup’s Citi for Cities initiatives. But, I totally understand why so many– almost half of those voting and quite a few who left comments–feel that smart cities are mostly hype. The case for smart cities is indeed far from proven.
Cities are the most complex social organisms created by humans. Just about every aspect of human endeavor is part of the mix of cities, and they all interact with each other leading to a highly dynamic system of systems. Moreover, each city has its own unique style and character. As is generally the case with transformative changes to highly complex systems, the evolution toward smart cities will likely take quite a bit longer than we anticipate, but the eventual impact will probably be more transformative than we can currently envision.
Electrification, for example, started in the U.S., Britain and other advanced nations around the 1880s and took decades to deploy and truly transform cities. The hype around smart cities that I worry the most about is underestimating their complexity and the amount of research, experimentation, and plain hard work that it will take to realize the promise. Smart cities projects are still in their very early stages. Some will work and some will fail. We have much to learn. Highly complex systems need time to evolve.
Commenting on the opening statements, Mr. Siegele noted: “Despite the motion being Are smart cities empty hype?, both sides have focused on whether these should be implemented top-down or bottom-up. Most will probably agree that digital technology can make cities smarter–meaning more liveable, more efficient, more sustainable and perhaps even more democratic.  But the big question is how to get there and how smart cities will be governed.”…

Ten thoughts for the future


The Economist: “CASSANDRA has decided to revisit her fellow forecasters Thomas Malnight and Tracey Keys to find out what their predictions are for 2014. Once again they have produced a collection of trends for the year ahead, in their “Global Trends Report”.
The possibilities of mind control seem alarming ( point 6) as do the  implications of growing income inequality (point 10). Cassandra also hopes that “unemployability” and “unemployerability”, as discussed in point 9, are contested next year (on both linguistic and social fronts).
Nevertheless, the forecasts make for intriguing reading and highlights appear below.
 1. From social everything to being smart socially
Social technologies are everywhere, but these vast repositories of digital “stuff” bury the exceptional among the unimportant. It’s time to get socially smart. Users are moving to niche networks to bring back the community feel and intelligence to social interactions. Businesses need to get smarter about extracting and delivering value from big data including challenging business models. For social networks, mobile is the great leveller. Competition for attention with other apps will intensify the battle to own key assets from identity to news sharing, demanding radical reinvention.
2. Information security: The genie is out of the bottle
Thought your information was safe? Think again. The information security genie is out of the bottle as cyber-surveillance and data mining by public and private organizations increases – and don’t forget criminal networks and whistleblowers. It will be increasingly hard to tell friend from foe in cyberspace as networks build artificial intelligence to decipher your emotions and smart cities track your every move. Big brother is here: Protecting identity, information and societies will be a priority for all.
3. Who needs shops anyway?
Retailers are facing a digitally driven perfect storm. Connectivity, rising consumer influence, time scarcity, mobile payments, and the internet of things, are changing where, when and how we shop – if smart machines have not already done the job. Add the sharing economy, driven by younger generations where experience and sustainable consumption are more important than ownership, and traditional retail models break down. The future of shops will be increasingly defined by experiential spaces offering personalized service, integrated online and offline value propositions, and pop-up stores to satisfy demands for immediacy and surprise.
4. Redistributing the industrial revolution
Complex, global value chains are being redistributed by new technologies, labour market shifts and connectivity. Small-scale manufacturing, including 3D and soon 4D printing, and shifting production economics are moving production closer to markets and enabling mass customization – not just by companies but by the tech-enabled maker movement which is going mainstream. Rising labour costs in developing markets, high unemployment in developed markets, global access to online talent and knowledge, plus advances in robotics mean reshoring of production to developed markets will increase. Mobility, flexibility and networks will define the future industrial landscape.
5. Hubonomics: The new face of globalization
As production and consumption become more distributed, hubs will characterize the next wave of “globalization.” They will specialize to support the needs of growing regional trade, emerging city states, on-line communities of choice, and the next generation of flexible workers and entrepreneurs. Underpinning these hubs will be global knowledge networks and new business and governance models based on hubonomics™, that leverage global assets and hub strengths to deliver local value.
6. Sci-Fi is here: Making the impossible possible
Cross-disciplinary approaches and visionary entrepreneurs are driving scientific breakthroughs that could change not just our lives and work but our bodies and intelligence. Labs worldwide are opening up the vast possibilities of mind control and artificial intelligence, shape-shifting materials and self-organizing nanobots, cyborgs and enhanced humans, space exploration, and high-speed, intelligent transportation. Expect great debate around the ethics, financing, and distribution of public and private benefits of these advances – and the challenge of translating breakthroughs into replicable benefits.
7. Growing pains: Transforming markets and generations
The BRICS are succumbing to Newton’s law of gravitation: Brazil’s lost it, India’s losing it, China’s paying the price for growth, Russia’s failing to make a superpower come-back, and South Africa’s economy is in disarray. In other developing markets currencies have tumbled, Arab Spring governments are still in turmoil and social unrest is increasing along with the number of failing states. But the BRICS & Beyond growth engine is far from dead. Rather it is experiencing growing pains which demand significant shifts in governance, financial systems, education and economic policies to catch up. The likely transformers will be younger generations who aspire to greater freedom and quality of life than their parents.
8. Panic versus denial: The resource gap grows, the global risks rise – but who is listening?
The complex nexus of food, water, energy and climate change presents huge global economic, environmental and societal challenges – heating up the battle to access new resources from the Arctic to fracking. Risks are growing, even as multilateral action stalls. It’s a crisis of morals, governance, and above all marketing and media, pitting crisis deniers against those who recognize the threats but are communicating panic versus reasoned solutions. Expect more debate and calls for responsible capitalism – those that are listening will be taking action at multiple levels in society and business.
9. Fighting unemployability and unemployerability
Companies are desperate for talented workers – yet unemployment rates remain high. Polarization towards higher and lower skill levels is squeezing mid-level jobs, even as employers complain that education systems are not preparing students for the jobs of the future. Fighting unemployability is driving new government-business partnerships worldwide, and will remain a critical issue given massive youth unemployment. Employers must also focus on organizational unemployerability – not being able to attract and retain desired talent – as new generations demand exciting and meaningful work where they can make an impact. If they can’t find it, they will quickly move on or swell the growing ranks of young entrepreneurs.
10. Surviving in a bipolar world: From expecting consistency to embracing ambiguity
Life is not fair, nor is it predictable.  Income inequality is growing. Intolerance and nationalism are rising but interdependence is the currency of a connected world. Pressure on leaders to deliver results today is intense but so too is the need for fundamental change to succeed in the long term. The contradictions of leadership and life are increasing faster than our ability to reconcile the often polarized perspectives and values each embodies. Increasingly, they are driving irrational acts of leadership (think the US debt ceiling), geopolitical, social and religious tensions, and individual acts of violence. Surviving in this world will demand stronger, responsible leadership comfortable with and capable of embracing ambiguity and uncertainty, as opposed to expecting consistency and predictability.”

Public Open Sensor Data: Revolutionizing Smart Cities


New Paper in Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE (Volume: 32,  Issue: 4): “Local governments have decided to take advantage of the presence of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) in their cities to efficiently manage several applications in their daily responsibilities. The enormous amount of information collected by sensor devices allows the automation of several real-time services to improve city management by using intelligent traffic-light patterns during rush hour, reducing water consumption in parks, or efficiently routing garbage collection trucks throughout the city [1]. The sensor information required by these examples is mostly self-consumed by city-designed applications and managers.”

Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design


Paper by Michiel de Lange and Martijn de Waal in First Monday : “In today’s cities our everyday lives are shaped by digital media technologies such as smart cards, surveillance cameras, quasi–intelligent systems, smartphones, social media, location–based services, wireless networks, and so on. These technologies are inextricably bound up with the city’s material form, social patterns, and mental experiences. As a consequence, the city has become a hybrid of the physical and the digital. This is perhaps most evident in the global north, although in emerging countries, like Indonesia and China mobile phones, wireless networks and CCTV cameras have also become a dominant feature of urban life (Castells, et al., 2004; Qiu, 2007, 2009; de Lange, 2010). What does this mean for urban life and culture? And what are the implications for urban design, a discipline that has hitherto largely been concerned with the city’s built form?
In this contribution we do three things. First we take a closer look at the notion of ‘smart cities’ often invoked in policy and design discourses about the role of new media in the city. In this vision, the city is mainly understood as a series of infrastructures that must be managed as efficiently as possible. However, critics note that these technological imaginaries of a personalized, efficient and friction–free urbanism ignore some of the basic tenets of what it means to live in cities (Crang and Graham, 2007).
Second, we want to fertilize the debates and controversies about smart cities by forwarding the notion of ‘ownership’ as a lens to zoom in on what we believe is the key question largely ignored in smart city visions: how to engage and empower citizens to act on complex collective urban problems? As is explained in more detail below, we use ‘ownership’ not to refer to an exclusive proprietorship but to an inclusive form of engagement, responsibility and stewardship. At stake is the issue how digital technologies shape the ways in which people in cities manage coexistence with strangers who are different and who often have conflicting interests, and at the same time form new collectives or publics around shared issues of concern (see, for instance, Jacobs, 1992; Graham and Marvin, 2001; Latour, 2005). ‘Ownership’ teases out a number of shifts that take place in the urban public domain characterized by tensions between individuals and collectives, between differences and similarities, and between conflict and collaboration.
Third, we discuss a number of ways in which the rise of urban media technologies affects the city’s built form. Much has been said and written about changing spatial patterns and social behaviors in the media city. Yet as the editors of this special issue note, less attention has been paid to the question how urban new media shape the built form. The notion of ownership allows us to figure the connection between technology and the city as more intricate than direct links of causality or correlation. Therefore, ownership in our view provides a starting point for urban design professionals and citizens to reconsider their own role in city making.
Questions about the role of digital media technologies in shaping the social fabric and built form of urban life are all the more urgent in the context of challenges posed by rapid urbanization, a worldwide financial crisis that hits particularly hard on the architectural sector, socio–cultural shifts in the relationship between professional and amateur, the status of expert knowledge, societies that face increasingly complex ‘wicked’ problems, and governments retreating from public services. When grounds are shifting, urban design professionals as well as citizens need to reconsider their own role in city making.”

Making Europe's cities smarter


Press Release: “At a conference today hosted by the European Commission, city leaders, CEOs and civil society leaders discussed the actions outlined in the “Smart Cities Strategic Implementation Plan” and how to put them into practice. The Commission announced that it will launch an ‘Invitation for Smart City and Community Commitments’ in spring 2014 to mobilise work on the action plan’s priorities. The plan is part of Europe’s fifth “Innovation Partnership”.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, said: “I am very pleased to see transport operators, telecoms companies, vehicle manufacturers, city planners, energy companies and researchers all gathered in one room to discuss the future of our cities. The Smart Cities initiative is a great opportunity to make changes happen for less congestion and better business opportunities in our cities. We need to keep up the momentum and move from plan to action now.”
Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, said: “The future of infrastructure and city planning will be based on integrating ICT systems and using big data to make our cities better places to live and work. We need to base those new systems on open standards for hardware, software, data and services which this European Innovation Partnership will develop.”
Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for energy, said: “The European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities is about making investments in sustainable development in as many cities as possible. Creating equal partnerships between cities and companies based on synergies between ICT, energy and mobility will lead to projects that make a real difference in our everyday lives.”
The Commission intends to make available approximately EUR 200 million for Smart Cities and communities in the 2014-2015 budgets of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, to accelerate progress and enlarge the scale of roll-out of smart cities solutions. There will also be possibilities to access the European Structural and Investment Funds.
For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/eip/smartcities/”