Smart City

  • Chicago is among a growing group of cities from around the world that are gearing their development agendas towards a transformation to a smart city. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve urban sustainability, both economic and environmental, cities have begun to develop solutions for increasing the resource efficiency and usability of a wide array of services and functions within the city, such as the city’s transportation network, building stock, and energy system. One of the most promising areas of research in smart city development is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to the collection of vast amounts of data from sources throughout an environment, including computers, vehicles, smartphones, and traffic lights as well as social and commercial applications. This collection of data is used to fuel any number of programs or applications which support governments and residents in their efforts to develop their environments into smart cities.

    The City of Chicago began an effort at improved transparency in 2010 by opening an open data portal which opened access to an impressive amount of data from the City’s various sources to residents and businesses. Over the four years since launching the program, the City has seen it evolve far beyond a mere transparency initiative, becoming an impressively multi-faceted and widely used component in the City’s development of Internet of Things enabled solutions.

    Offering nearly 600 datasets on the portal, some updated as frequently as every 10 minutes, the portal provides a comprehensive source of information for the development of a variety of applications and services which benefit from the data in creating localized solutions tailored to the specific content. Among the solutions developed through this program have been a program tracking the development of rat populations, developed by the City and used to support the work of the city’s exterminators, or predictive policing applications which help police to better direct resources.

    Innovative, open-data initiatives such as these are an efficient and low-cost means of including third parties in the development of new smart city solutions.

    Visit Chicago’s Open Data Portal and read more about the development of the program at ZD Net and Socrata.

  • The Danish city of Copenhagen has taken a technology-forward step towards reducing its carbon emissions levels in the goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capitol by 2025, installing a vast network of smart technology solutions throughout the city. Among the recent additions are a network of sensors which monitor traffic and provide drivers with up-to-date information on traffic, as well as a network of LED streetlights which conserve energy by brightening and dimming as pedestrians approach.

    LED lights are among the key components of the global trend towards low-carbon focused development, with cities expected to install an estimated 50 million LED lights over the next three years. However, the array of smart sensors installed throughout the city will eventually support efforts to increase efficiency and energy conservation in services such as sanitation and transportation.

    While many of the most dominant players in the field of smart city technology are well-established global giants such as Cisco, IBM, and Philips, smaller players such as Silver Spring Networks, the company providing the networking platform, software, and services of the infrastructure of Copenhagen’s project. The crowded marketplace has led to an overabundance of providers, all competing for a share of the market in pilot projects such as the Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab which has drawn 25 companies to the Danish suburb of Albertslund. Industry experts believe this aggressive competition will not last long, with producers developing comprehensive infrastructure solutions which will connect the elements across a city, increasing the potential for greater efficient and reduced expenses.

    Source: NY Times article 

  • Forum Virium Helsinki has established a living lab platform in Helsinki’s Kalasatama area, which is currently undergoing significant development with the construction of considerable residential and commercial areas. At present, there are some 20 projects underway in the living lab with new ideas and concepts in development. These living lab projects aim to contribute to the development of new smart city concepts and practices through regular events for businesses, resides, and regional development agencies.

    In addition to projects developed by Forum Virium, the area is also open to private companies interested in testing and developing new concepts. Forum Virium offers companies interested in researching smart city concepts funding support (€ 1000-8000), aiming to fund 20 projects over the course of the next three years.

    This fall, Forum Virium will open a 50 m2living lab office which includes work stations, conference rooms, and show room facilities for displaying results.

    Read more about the Living Lab at Forum Virium’s website 

    or at Tekes’s website 

  • Among the world’s top five most densely populated cities, Hong Kong faces considerable challenges in meeting new environmental regulations and reducing the impact of climate change. Hong Kong is home to thriving commercial and technological sectors which positions it to take advantage of the sustainability benefits afforded by an increased focus on smart technologies. With the aid of today’s growing array of digital and communication technologies, Hong Kong has joined the wave of cities around the world seeking to transform themselves into true smart cities.

    Hong Kong signaled its ambitions in regard to smart cities, as early as its 2014 Digital 21 Strategy, envisioning an increased use of sensors, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics to improve public services and ensure sustainable social and economic growth. The city’s Chief Executive Cy Leung affirmed this strategy in the City’s 2015 Policy Address by announcing the Kowloon East area as a pilot area for smart city development. This commitment gained further momentum with the 2016 Policy Address, which assigned the newly established Innovation and Technology Bureau with formulating a digital framework and standards for the development of a smart city. Finally, the City selected professional services firm Arup and leading communications technology and service provider Ericsson to spearhead the Smart & Sustainable City project in Kowloon East.

    Hong Kong’s smart city initiatives were the focus of the 2016 ICT Conference, themed “Constructing a Competitive Smart City”, held in Hong Kong on April 12th, 2016. At the conference, Hong Kong’s legislative councilor for IT Charles Mok observed that the greatest challenges facing the smart city initiative were not technological, but cultural. Noting that, while Hong Kong is certainly not lacking in the technology necessary to realize this transformation, it has yet to achieve a unified sense of purpose across both public and private sectors which would unify the two and encourage the spirit of open-mindedness and risk-taking necessary to further these ambitions.

    In moving from the phase of establishing infrastructure into applying the data created by this infrastructure in creating new solutions, Mok stressed the need for open data, noting that the current reality continues to see great amounts of data barred from public access.

    As cities across Europe seek to realize similarly ambitious targets, these issues regarding the accessibility of data will continue to slow development if those in charge of these initiatives do not establish a sense of unified purpose and shared trust among their multi-party collations. Following the development of Hong Kong’s Smart & Sustainable City pilot in Kowloon East stands to bring an additional perspective on the formation of such knowledge alliances and their central function in the development of advanced, sustainable cities.

    Read more about the “Constructing a Competitive Smart City” conference and see the full program.

    For more on the City Chief Executive’s stated plans for smart city development and their application.

    Ericsson’s press release announcing the Smart & Sustainable City project.

    Follow along with the development of the Kowloon East pilot.

  • The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a New York-based community-focused think tank which studies economic and social development, has announced its selections for the world’s seven leading intelligent communities. The 2015 list highlights a wide variety of infrastructure, traffic, and housing related projects and developments which have helped these communities excel in the intelligent development of urban areas. This list is based on a series of indicators the ICF adopted in 1999 when it released its first annual list of intelligent communities.

    The 2015 top 7 are Arlington County, Virginia (USA), Columbus, Ohio (USA), Ipswich, Queensland (Australia), Mitchell, South Dakota (USA), New Taipei City (Taiwan), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Surrey, British Columbia (Canada).

    Among the highlighted actions in these communities are intense collaboration between government, businesses, and non-profits to spur innovation; the implementation of advanced green technologies; attracting high-tech companies; investment in the development of transport systems; increasing broadband internet access; and the development of local infrastructure.

    Read more about the communities that were selected for the 2015 list at the ICF’s website 


Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.