The "second cluster meeting for smart communities projects in the EU" organized by the European Commission this week, proved to be a valuable platform for promoting collaboration and cooperation among relevant initiatives. With 18 EU projects coming together online, the meeting facilitated the sharing of updates, identification of synergies, and exploration of cooperation opportunities to further advance the digital transformation at the local and regional levels.
The meeting had a specific focus on interoperability, standardisation, and data sharing for building smart cities and communities of the future. Project leaders presented their progress and insights in three key areas. Firstly, they discussed the modalities of making the Living-in.eu platform an information and communication hub for digital transformation efforts. Secondly, they provided updates on collective EU efforts for interoperability and standardization, with a particular emphasis on MIMs+ (Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms). Lastly, they highlighted their projects' approaches to data sharing and the lessons learned from it.
URBANAGE, as one of the participating projects, shared its responses to these areas. We discussed adding our urban planning ecosystem for age-friendly cities to the Living-in.eu platform. We emphasized our efforts to adhere to specific standards in the technical design of the platform, collaborating with relevant standardization organizations. Furthermore, we highlighted our data management components and connectors, which collect and harmonize various types of data from multiple sources. Finally, we shared important lessons learned, such as the need for available and high-quality data, data relevance to specific use cases, and improved communication between city departments.
Our answers in more detail, as presented by Patricia Molina Costa, Director of City, Territory and Environment at Tecnalia, are provided below:
1. Taking stock and re-visit synergies and links between websites and interactive platforms that are either specifically targeted to or have a strong component on the digital transformation at local or regional level. What are the different modalities in practice of possibly making the Living-in.eu platform the information and communication hub?
The URBANAGE project is striving to find ways to make cities more age-friendly and inclusive to help the rapidly growing older adult demographic in Europe age gracefully. This is being achieved through the development of the URBANAGE Ecosystem platform, which brings together data and services to support age-friendly urban planning and design.
The URBANAGE Ecosystem platform comprises:
Data management components in charge of collecting, aggregating and harmonising different types of data coming from various sources in the cities,
Artificial Intelligence algorithms and simulation engines able to analyse the collected data and provide optimisation to support decision-making processes,
Big Data analytics components able to analyse a large set of data to extract knowledge providing visual dashboards for the end users,
Digital Twin able to implement a Virtual 3D representation of the city and integrate and visualise geospatial information
2. Update on collective EU efforts on interoperability and standardisation, with a focus on MIMs+
Based on the URBANAGE overall architecture and standardisation plan, the technical partners involved in URBANAGE are scrutinising the use of specific standards in the technical design. Based on this exercise, contacts with the relevant standardisation organisations have been established (i.e. CEN-CENELEC SF-SSCC SUSTAINABLE cities and communities, Task Group/Local Digital Twins, ITU, etc.)
In the context of the design of the Data Management Layer (WP3), particular attention is paid to NGSI-LD and DCATAP standards. The first has been chosen for the representation of the data managed by the Data Management Layer; the second for their presentation of the metadata of the dataset realised leveraging the managed data and for the representation of the metadata of datasets offered by sources(e.g., Open Data Portals) that are "external" to the URBANAGE Platform, but that can offer useful data (MIMs1,2,7)
Regarding task T3.2 AI algorithms and simulations, several specific standards are being studied and scrutinized in order to be adopted for the technical developments. More specifically, Open Street Maps, essential for building the street map of the city; GTFS files, crucial for obtaining information about public transportation routes; or elevations of the street in Geo tiff format are some of the standards that are being studied (MIM5)
Regarding the architecture of the platform (T5.1), use of standards is focused on those of each component, where we are working with all possible standards in order to speed up the work and its subsequent maintenance.
3. Sharing of data and data sets to build up the Data Space for Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities. How is your project sharing data, which data sets it is using? What are the main lessons from sharing data?
URBANAGE Ecosystem comprises Data management components in charge of collecting, aggregating and harmonising different types of data coming from various sources in the cities. Connectors are the boundary between the URBANAGE platform and external data sources:
Static data such as repositories, databases (e.g. cadastre) and files (e.g. OSM)
Dynamic data, such as data generated by IoT devices and further IT systems).
New data sets generated through Computer Vision (amenities in the public spaces, such as benches, fountains.
Examples of connectors are:
IoT Agents (FIWARE Generic Enablers that simplify the connection of IoT devices)
DACAIN(that allows importing shape files “.shp”, e.g. from cadastres); and
URBANAGE Connectors for IT Platforms (legacy IT systems).
Lack of available data: Special focus should be made on organizing and managing the city data trying to have it updated and complete.
Quality of data: The quality of data is key to having a real picture of the city. To homogenize and complete the existing data sources is essential.
Data relevance: It ́s key that the data is stored if we want to be able to implement AI in the city processes, and we must make sure that the data we use is relevant to the use case we want to implement.
Need for communication between city departments: To finish with the operation in isolated silos is one of the challenges of the public administrations and it is the only way to ensure good service to the citizen from the public sector.
Overall, the second cluster meeting for smart communities projects in the EU was a successful endeavour that fostered collaboration and knowledge sharing among key stakeholders. It reinforced the importance of interoperability, standardization, and data sharing in advancing the digital transformation of cities and communities. By bringing together these initiatives and encouraging cooperation, the European Commission is driving progress towards the development of smarter, more sustainable cities in Europe.