Smart City

These guided roads lead to smart cities

16 December 2019

Smart City

Progress is necessary, but is not always the easiest route. Often the horizon is still hazy and there are unknown obstacles blocking your path. In November, our smart city experts were ready and waiting to tackle the challenges posed by cities and towns to map out a joint plan of attack. Is a smart city something that might be of interest to you, too?

As your partner, we would love to work by your side to help you pick up speed. That is why each two months, we open up our doors in Ghent and act as a sounding board for some of our customers regarding the challenges they share with us from their own professional lives. Furthermore, a whole host of Innovation Thursdays have again been scheduled in our calendar for 2020. If you would like to be kept informed, just let us know!

Smart City

Getting smarter is a must

Cities and towns always need to find ways to work more efficiently and at lower cost. They also need to reflect on things such as their aging populations, the trends in the housing market and the whole question of mobility. To provide a sustainable response to these challenges, we need to make progress in the areas of information gathering, organization and services. The ultimate goal is to provide residents with a pleasant living environment.

In 2007, the term "smart city" was coined and registered by Prof. Rudolf Giffinger. The search for greater efficiency can be achieved by revisiting the processes and infrastructure in six social domains (quality of life, environment, governance, economy, transport and society). Investments in human and social capital, sustainable economic growth, improving living standards and sensible management of natural resources are core elements. This can all become reality under the guidance of authorities who play their part. An ideal scenario that seems to be way off in the distance? During our inspiration session we planted some signposts that point the way to a smart city.

Combined forces

Smart city projects are often set up by multiple cities, at a provincial level or even by the Flemish Government. Collaboration offers a number of economies of scale. It is then also possible to work with larger organizations. For specific problem areas, at the level of a region or Flanders itself, they want to carry out projects and are looking for partners who can help dream up and define solutions. Initiatives like this also exist at European level. By getting into this kind of co-creative mode, a lot of knowledge and resources can be pooled. Realdolmen is an active contributor in this regard as an active member of umbrella organizations such as Smart City Vlaanderen, Mobilidata and De Blauwe Cluster.

Be sure to take a look at your opportunities for public subsidies. The Flemish Government is budgeting funds (€4 million in both 2018 and 2019) to give every Flemish city and town – large and small – the opportunity of starting to work smartly using smart city applications. We would be happy to assist you with the process of preparing your project proposal for the authorities. 


Start in the middle, on the market square

Technology is a powerful tool for the evolution into a smart city. Today, data is critical in this respect. Everything starts with the need for reliable Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that are able to collect raw data. These may be cameras that record the number of vehicles during the rush hour or meters that record air quality, for example. You then need the transmission piece, consisting of various data and communication protocols to send data to a central point so that information can be downloaded. This central point is a platform where your raw data is converted into smart data. This data is then used as the basis for a variety of applications, such as an application where residents can check the air quality in their own street.

IoT sensors these days are relatively cheap, with the major focus of the investment being on the platform. To cover that, we set up our AGORA project. The aim is to arrive at a data and services marketplace where your data can be made available in an intelligent manner. Given this is a shared platform, with the necessary provisions for the privacy and security of your data, the entry cost is much lower. You can decide for yourself which facilities you want to use, and can therefore start small. A platform like this is tailor-made for a smart city, an ecosystem where different stakeholders can connect through it and deliver data to each other in a standard, yet flexible manner. Data collected by one party can be used in another party's application in real time. Collaboration is seamless, and you are jointly constructing tomorrow's city in an efficient manner.

What are your options in the smart city landscape?

We would be delighted to brainstorm about your current challenges and give you more information about our AGORA project. Realdolmen can provide strategic advice for the short or long term, and kick off smart city projects for large or small municipalities.

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