smart citiesInternationally, and particularly in Europe, a number of Smart City initiatives are taking shape. This chapter looks at a handful of those cities and the projects that are underway to create Smart Cities.

In Helsinki, a project called Region Infoshare has been running for the last three years. The project is about making data publicly available to residents. Data that is made available includes; living conditions, economics and well-being, employment and transport.

The data is being made available via a web service. Anyone can access the data whether a citizen, a company, or organisation. It can be used in the creation of Smart Applications, provide data to startup businesses, or as the basis for new city services.

I covered Vancouver in the previous chapter, their work on mitigating and adapting to climate change threats is a great example of how to get it right.

In France, Nice is working on a Smart City project called Instant Mobility. The service will allow the residents to enter a series of preferences about travel into a system including when, where, times, and the like. In return, personalised information, using real-time data, is pushed to the resident. Traffic information, status of public transport, times, all updated as the user travels.

Sometimes the initiatives are inter-city and international. Brussels, Stockholm, Nice, Lulea, Oulu, Agueda and Sicily are all collaborating on Fireball [14], a co-ordination mechanism whereby multiple Smart Cities can collaborate together in a completely open way by sharing information on various Smart City projects. One of the keys to Smart City is openness and collaboration. Unlocking data and making it publicly available in order to allow innovation. The dinosaur days of protecting IP and data for the sake of it are nearing an end.

Rejika is involved in a project called EGOV4U [15] that seeks to get the two thirds of citizens utilising e-government services that are not today. In some ways this is a bridging the gaps type project, between those with and those without good Internet access, however some of the solutions are interesting. The project must deliver simple online access that is free. They are also involved in a project called SEED [16] which is using Cloud Computing to power free internet nodes for citizens.

Ghent is involved in a number of projects one of which is called Citadel [17]. Citadel once again seeks to unlock data and make it openly available with the express purpose of stimulating developers to create Smart City smartphone applications. Ghent has also taken it to an advanced level with experimentation in gamification with an application called ZWERM. It is worth highlighting as a very innovative way to engage with the community.

“From 23 February till 23 March 2013, the neighbourhood game ZWERM[1] was played in two Ghent neighbourhoods. The game was created via a crowd sourcing process (5,500 internet users participated, 128 ideas were submitted, which received more than 4800 votes). ZWERM used various channels such as a website, a smart-phone interface and tangible street furniture. In this way the ZWERM pilot service can be deployed in a variety of contexts, even in cities where the ‘digital divide’ is still significant. ZWERM was developed on the open source content management system Drupal, which affords a free, flexible and robust development environment, and Apache Flex to create a rich interactive application to be run on the hollow tree computer.”

The list of projects around the world to support the building of Smart Cities is now well-established and supported.

Manchester is running an online and connected programme that allows users to share information directly with each other in an urban area about eco-heating and similar products. This is driving people to think about insulation and managing energy in a smart way by allowing them to collaborate on their experiences.

Cologne has released a mobile application, as opposed to a fixed website, that allows the citizenry to engage with the city in real-time including consultation and e-voting.

Silicon Valley is providing free Wi-Fi.

Christchurch has a well-established Smart City programme, funded, and supported by IBM.

These examples can be studied and used a base for a Wellington Smart City programme.

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