Digitisation makes cities smart
Service orientation becomes more and more important - also for cities. Digital urban solutions are increasingly demanded. Emerging technologies offer new services to cities and its citizens. Smart Cities are no future scenario anymore but describe cities that use innovative technologies to create added value for the population and the economy. The leading Smart City Governments in Europe, for example, London, Helsinki or Barcelona, already excel in implementing digitised solutions to let the city be at the citizens’ services.
Open Government in Barcelona
The city of Barcelona followed a clear strategy in terms of transformation intentions into a Smart City. Focusing on the implementation of an e-government system they provide data and digital services to citizens. A consolidation of the given infrastructure was necessary to establish the first Open Data site containing 510 datasets containing mobility, Smart Cities, administration, information systems and innovation. This solution supports around 150 portals with over 4 million user visits.
Open Data - opportunity for cooperation
The concept of Smart Cities is enabled by Open Data. In most cases, the data used is static. It only gets updated occasionally to stay relevant. However, through the use of Internet of Things (IoT) real time data can be offered. With real time data, requested data is updated within minutes or seconds. Networks of sensors have been created to generate and process data in real time to sustainably improve the performance of Smart Cities. Making this data available, it provides more transparency, enabling public administrations, citizens, developers, etc. to cooperate and achieve synergy effects. Especially in areas where conditions can change fast and decisions must be made accordingly, like power supply, traffic control, electromobility and public transport, real time data is highly beneficial and supports educated decision-making.
Intelligent transport in Smart Cities
The demand for innovative solutions in public transport continues to rise. Commuting faster and greener through European metropolises targets topics such as pollution, congestions and safety but also living quality and citizens’ and tourists’ experience in the city. Not only in the leading Smart Cities, but as well in small cities, pilot projects already started using real time data to provide life information on the transport situation and mobility options.
Benefits of smart transport for citizens
The use of real time data in transport results in enormous benefits for the users. Public transport services like mobile applications simplify the choice for the best route at a specific time and make it more accessible. The attractiveness of public transport increases. The offered technical solutions can pave the way for more people to switch to public transport instead of the car which reduces pollution. At the same time the public transport infrastructure can be used and extended based on better and more responsive capacity planning. Potential new services or collaborations around innovative ways of mobility can be designed, piloted and implemented.
Real time data and Augmented Reality – a comfortable combination
While the use of public transport apps is offering increasingly comfortable and accurate solutions to plan a route in theory, there is also local development in cities itself to provide information and help commuters to move smarter.
The city of Luxembourg launched a pilot project in September 2017 at 10 bus stops to test the Augmented Reality App, “Vdl-AR” for the first time. With Augmented Reality, in comparison to the Virtual Reality, where the user no longer perceives the real environment, the customer sees the real world and gets additional information. The initiative is part of a comprehensive digitisation strategy. The city worked together with the German company ZREALITY, in order to develop an easy to use mobile application. It works in a few easy steps:
Point the camera of a smartphone with the application installed towards a bus stop. The technology automatically detects the stop location and immediately shows information in real time about the status of the timetable on the screen. Buy a ticket for a selected service via the app.
The future of real time data in Smart Cities
By 2050, it is expected that nearly 3 billion more people will live in cities. Intelligent transport, pollutions, logistics and smart governments will increase in importance. Gaining public acceptance is crucial for the realisation of a Smart City. Therefore, citizens should be actively involved in the design and moreover, information should be provided and made transparent. The future of Smart Cities lies in networking and interaction between actors and sectors and in the way, data will be shared and re-used. Smart City engagement like in Barcelona and bottom up approaches like in Luxembourg show the benefit of enabling a variety of stakeholders to use data and real time data to contribute to urban innovations and future Smart Cities.