“For a city to become smart, we need to cooperate more”

The main takeaway from the “Visions for Swedish Smart Cities” seminar: we need to cooperate more. Cities, universities, companies, NGOs, citizens – we all need to be in it together.

Smart cities seminar

The smart cities seminar gathered around 30 people from public and private organizations and academia. The issue at hand was how IoT-based technologies can play a role in sustainable urban development.

The concept of smart cities is, from a technical point of view, about using using IoT-based systems to more efficiently provide city-level services such as public transportation and waste management. But if you look beyond the technological vision, the smart cities idea also includes issues concerning civic engagement, public data, and new ways of decision-making in a city.

This latter part prompted many interesting discussions. After presentations by Per Linde, Malmö University (view Linde’s presentation), Sofie Karavida and Robert Lann, City of Malmö (view presentation, A Digital Agenda for Malmö), and Regina Andersson, Ericsson (view presentation, Smart Sustainable Cities), people discussed the obstacles we need to overcome to reach the vision of the smart city.

Here are three examples of themes that were discussed:

For a city to be smart, it needs good data
How do we make people share data for the common good? What incentives do people need to share e.g. health data? Perhaps there should be a feedback loop where you as data donator get knowledge and research results in exchange for the data you give?

Seamlessness and user friendliness
To minimize e.g. transport by car, we need smooth (“seamless”) ways to make travel reservations that include not only trains but that also connects to local bike-sharing systems.

When it comes to “user friendliness,” it’s often a hassle for a citizen to log in to public services, which limits citizen participation. There should be a single ID where you access a portfolio of services.

Financing
Who pays for building and maintaining smart city services? The Lyon case was discussed: here, the city made investments on a joint platform to gather data. The platform became an incentive for other companies to hook up to to extract traffic data.

One example of a currently running smart city project is Smart Public Environments, in which a large consortium strives to build open IoT platforms and a service infrastructure that municipalities can use.

Smart Cities is one of five application areas at IOTAP. Contact Per Linde to discuss project ideas or if you want to learn more about the work in this area.

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