- Green Digital Charter
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5 days @CeBIT
This year, the CeBIT show lasted between 20 and 24 March, and was entirely dedicated to the digitalisation of the world economy. From cloud technology and cybersecurity to robotics, drones and the Internet of Things (IoT), this gigantic fair showcased the latest and best products and services in the digital market.
The Smart City Forum’s stand was located in one corner of the Public Sector Parc. Coordinated by the Urban Software Institute [ui!], the whole area was dedicated to smart city projects being developed in collaboration with German cities, universities, and/or companies.
Also represented were private partners from Cologne and Munich involved in the Smarter Together and GrowSmarter ‘lighthouse’ projects, and in the Hamburg-centred Horizon 2020 funded MySmartLife and reTHINK projects.
Under the ‘EUROPA’ banner, another stand was allocated to the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), where three Horizon 2020-funded projects introduced themselves:
- the Green Digital Charter (GDC/GuiDanCe) initiative
- the CITYkeys performance measurement framework
- the ESPRESSO project (the acronym stands for systEmic StandardisationapPRoach to Empower Smart citieS and cOmmunities)
Over five days, visitors (mostly from industry) could obtain information on the EIP-SCC market place in general and the urban platforms in particular. Urban platforms are technological infrastructures by which cities manage data flows across their systems (sensors, cloud services, mobile devices, analytics, social media and many more). These networks help European cities manage the vast amount of data collected by public service operations and sensors (Internet of Things).
Scores of flyers were handed out at that stand to explain the Green Digital Charter/GuiDance, CITYkeys, and ICTFOOTPRINT.EU projects. The 2016 collection of GDC case studies and our two handbooks on the CITYkeys framework were also available to inform visitors.
We need common and open standards
On 19 March, the opening ceremony was attended by Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, partner country of CeBIT 2017, and Angela Merkel, chancellor of host country Germany. In his keynote address, Abe emphasised the importance of education and of common technology standards. “Together, let us develop common curricula and common standards”, he said.
Common standards are key to the interoperability of different systems, and they make all smart city solutions scalable, replicable, and efficient. The CITYkeys project offers a measurement framework based on open standards and formats, which is an invaluable tool for cities aiming to improve their local decision making processes and to cooperate at European level. The key performance indicators (KPIs) developed by the CITYkeys partners have been endorsed by the ESPRESSO project, which develops a standardised integrated framework for smart cities.
Smart Cities Focus
Just around the corner, where a humble lamp post offered visitors free wifi access, students from the Technische Universität of Berlin presented a simulation table designed to visualise patterns for collaborative urban planning. Through its ‘Conscious City’ project, the university’s architectural design and urban planning group CHORA intends to demonstrate how games and other platforms can help us co-create our urban environment.
Visitors could attend a number of conferences and sessions on ‘smart urbanism’, where the speakers elaborated on the concepts and technologies behind the drive to develop safe, clean, and efficient cities. Most of these, however, targeted German speakers only.Those curious to know what ‘smart city’ means outside the EU’s borders could attend a lecture delivered by Andrey Belozerov, deputy CIO of the city of Moscow. The recording of his thought-provoking address, entitled ‘Cities – new key drivers of digitalisation’, is available at http://www.cebit.de/event/cities-new-key-drivers-of-digitalization/KEY/74913.
Digital technologies provide great opportunities for cities to improve their local urban planning practices, and help them go a long way toward becoming sustainable, green, and inclusive. What this year’s CeBIT has confirmed again is that much depends on how we use these fast-evolving and omnipresent technologies, tools, gadgets and gizmos.. The event also left visitors wonder if the ‘rest of the world’ is ready to catch up with Europe just yet.
“If I were to decipher the message that 2017 is bringing, I would say that data sharing and co-creation will certainly boost urban innovation in the forthcoming years. And that, in Zaragoza, we have some interesting tools to make it happen:
our smart Citizen Card, our “de facto” digital platform upon which we can build all sorts of services, from gamification to citizen participation
our Open Urban Lab, the co-creation lab of the city, located at the very core of Zaragoza’s flagship innovation hub “Etopia Center for Arts and Technology”
a thriving civic and innovation ecosystem and a program “100 Ideas ZGZ” conceived to set bottom-up ideas in motion, using the city as an innovation platform
The good news started in Luxembourg. After pitching the Citizen Card in late January on the Big Data Info Days on Horizon 2020 we are overwhelmed by the number of agents from either industry and research arena that have proposed to partner with us in big data-related H2020 calls. Almost simultaneously, four groups of design students from the University of Zaragoza presented four innovative ideas for new services on the Citizen Card. They had been working on them for three months both in the classroom and in the Lab.
A week later we took a plane to Brussels: on Jan, 25th Zaragoza’s Citizen Card received the Green Digital Charter (GDC) 2016 Award on ‘Citizen participation and impact on society’. During the conference ‘Cities in Transition – the role of digital in shaping our future cities’ held in Brussels we had the opportunity to present our current and future data policy and discuss it with an engaged audience from government and academia. Take two concepts already developed in these blog’s pages: Big (open) Data, and Data Sharing.
We need European funding to materialize these and other ideas, so we’ve been working very hard with the team on several European proposals for using data to spark and guide the co-creation of new public services. We have already tested this principle within the project CITYkeys, where data has allowed us to identify gaps and opportunities for new transport services: that’s how the future network of bicycle parking spots started to be designed. A path, that of the co-creation of new public services based on data insights, that we intend to develop further.
On Feb, 6th we enrolled on a learning trip to beautiful Cascais (Portugal) to join the “Smart Life Incubator” think tank. We were ‘locked’ by the outstanding TM Forum staff alongside other city policy makers from Tokyo, Liverpool, Nice, Porto, Saint Quentin, Cascais and Utrecht. It was an intense 3-day working session focused on addressing urban challenges through innovation and cooperation between stakeholders. We dealt with problems such as mobility, talent attraction, unemployment, on-line services,… We shared strategies to bring deprived public space back to life, or to improve city response in case of catastrophe. Surprisingly, data sharing was identified as a common enabling vector for most of the challenges. The bad news is that no one seems to know how to make it happen without compromising, either legitimate organization assets or personal privacy: the relationship between big data and governments is still heavily cluttered.
So while everybody talks about co-creation, there is an astonishingly small number of succes stories out there. Most projects, like the “Co-creating responsive urban spaces” initiative in Amsterdam, are just starting. And data sharing is something we all think should be happening (for the sake of humanity, right?) but that no one has seen yet. In my Master on City Sciences’ thesis I pointed out that there are gigantic organizational and behavioural (psychological) barriers that block the way. As more projects on co-creation start in the following years, and small scale urban data sharing examples are being built, we expect that a whole new body of knowledge about the subject will appear. This knowledge, of course, will blossom on the urban ground, since it is the natural environment where people’s ideas and big (urban) data can turn into solutions.
The story of co-creation and data sharing is just beginning. We’ll be here to write it.”
Daniel Sarasa Funes is urban innovation planner and Smart City Program Manager at Zaragoza City Council. He is co-author of Zaragoza’s digital agenda 2012-2015 “Towards a Smart Citizenship” and co-editor of OpenYourCity.com