Transforming the territory in a more citizen-friendly space

For those that are not familiarized with, the municipalities are the Entities that gather more challenges and responsibilities in the management and transformation of the territory delivering environment, quality of life, employment, public lighting, security, economic activity, education, transportation, water, sanitation,… and regardless of the “user of space” perception the approach adopted by these Entities is conducted across the citizen-centric value chain, to get at the end of the day the best satisfaction from the citizen.

The path to the transformation of the territory in a more citizen-friendly space it’s not an easy task to most of the municipalities of our country.

From one side there is a desire at each one of us citizens for having the same “territorial hardware” than the neighbor outside our municipality boundary and a desire at each one of us smart city solutions providers to replicate projects with as low customization tasks as possible. A globalization of smart initiatives represents a lower rate of addressing local specificities. Urban areas are different all over the territory and urban intelligence must be applied thinking on the needs, on the offer and demand, at each dimension of a smart urban place.

In the same vector force the Municipalities, in more cases than desired, are not financially strong enough to implement their citizen-centric strategies. The reality is that in several cases Municipalities are forced to navigate in the existing European financed opportunities, losing focus on what really impacts its citizen’s life at its singularities. This kind of procedure it’s forcing a behavior based on the upload of proposals to open calls, independently of its connection to the competitive advantages or operation activities at a given singular territory. As an example, if a call is launched to improve the transition from old lightning technologies to led the effort to capture funds is in some cases independent from knowing deeply: if the power installed exceeds or frustrates the lightning quality needs; if the number of streetlights versus height and arms are less or more than required; or if led tech is the right solution to preserve an active in a specific condition.

Citizens are the engine of the urban spaces. With the primary accessibility asymmetries solved by road and Wi-Fi infrastructures and the advent of a new digital job paradigm there are new drivers that influence the process of finding a place to live. Attracting and retaining persons is more challenging than ever and the competitiveness of a place must be sustained in what distinguish it from others. Each territory should find its competitive advantages and convert it in a strategy for smart management.

Location is value at every business but in smart cities solutions is core and helps definitely in tracing and addressing citizen paint points. I could share with you some of the best application developments for green spaces management, public lighting management or citizen communication but I share with you the GeoSmartCity project.

It was a 3 years project started in March 2014 with 9 countries and 16 entities connected to produce open geo-data for innovative services and user applications towards Smart Cities. Open source software applications dedicated to green energy and urban intelligence were depoyed by each partner, with test pilots at different environments. Highlighting the green energy platform it’s an energy efficiency web app that delivers dynamic information regarding the potential of each roof to receive solar energy technologies.

The platform combines solar potential maps, produced by modelling in 3D all the roof tops of a city, with simulations of the sun at each hour of the 364 days in a year. This information is then made available by address, in the form of a colored roof between the less blue profitable areas to the most potential reds.

The citizen ”user” benefits from an experience that tends to increase its mood and knowledge to invest in solar technologies; the citizen “architect” benefits from a tool to upload its 3D projects and check the impact in the neighborhood and of the neighborhood in itself in terms of shading and radiation absorption; the citizen “solar tech provider” benefits from targeting the market in a segmented, oriented and georeferenced way; the citizen “developer” has open code to learn and to create more value; and the Municipality improve its response to a more sustainable future by influencing Net-Zero Energy Buildings more dependent on solar.

In a business level approach the platform tends to facilitate peer-to-peer iterations where supply and demand find a place to exchange energy efficiency services and upload rich information about the market in a shared and valuable ecosystem.

Open source software was used at this platform. Smart solutions must solve specific needs but also be sustainable in time. Avoiding limitations in licensing and improving savings by working in an open code environment is a great enabler for continuous improvements and innovations.

From a geographic information technology driven person point of view the future will be an S curve made from scaling up these actions. In the future the citizen-centric approach will be made from studying the citizen’s journey deeply, including new drivers of time, experience and convenience, and from transforming it in an harmonized dynamic supplying model where demand is satisfied as close as possible to real time, by studying behaviors and location paths.

The future will be made of analytical segmentation. The tactics, from a smart city manager perspective, should be focused on analyzing data and profiles of the citizens, forecasting and spatializing trends, optimizing constantly, planning and managing the territory based on a strong analytical knowledge.

The value perceived by the citizen at each urban space will depend on a cohesive and robust strategy that has urban intelligence as a support activity and commoditize wellbeing as a primary activity.