In early December we hosted a Future Internet event, funded as part of CONCORD, the Facilitation and Support Action for the Future Internet PPP programme. Through its membership of ERRIN – project partner in CONCORD – the West Midlands is a sub-partner in the project and involved as one out of four pilot regions across the EU.
This event provided the opportunity to share knowledge of ‘smart city’ activities in the West Midlands and then in the second half of the programme to present the Future-Internet PPP, illustrate two FI-PPP use cases and outline the future Call 3. The event also welcomed a presentation from the EIT ICT Labs which also illustrated the opportunities of international collaboration.
It provided a good network base of SMEs, corporates and public sector representatives to outline recent developments in the concept of smart cities from a regional perspective in the first half of the programme and then use this base to illustrate how the Future Internet PPP could be of assistance in supporting the goals of smart cities.
Raj Mack, Head of Digital Birmingham introduced the audience to the activities that Birmingham were engaged in under their smart cities. Raj pointed out the growing importance of cities and talked about Birmingham’s roadmap (You can view Birmingham’s Smart City Vision here).
From Birmingham to its West Midlands neighbour Coventry. Tim Luft from the University’s Serious Games Institute gave a wide ranging presentation on some of the new technologies that would contribute to solving some of the challenges cities are currently facing such as congestion, pollution. Intelligent transport systems, driverless cars, hydrogen fuel cell cars are likely to change our driving habits. Virtual reality applications means that we can order our reading and sun glasses on line from a virtual optician and the Google augmented reality glasses http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/google-begins-testing-its-augmented-reality-glasses/ will be available in 2013.
The days when tourism involve buying a paper-based guide, map and brochure are going too but all these technological changes require a user input such as Living Labs and he introduced the City Lab Coventry http://citylabcoventry.org/home.asp?slevel=0z0&parent_id=1 where the city could play a strong role in testing new ideas.
Of course new technology does not always mean a new market and this was where the next speaker, Professor Irene Ng from Warwick University gave interesting presentation on new concepts of value, exchange and ownership. More and more in a digital world we do need to own a product to gain a benefit from it. A mobile phone can easily replace a camera, a calendar, a calculator and a torch. So we move from the concept of buying to using but all this takes place in specific contexts. For Professor Ng, data was the new oil and context was the new oilfield. As an example, she used a person listening to music in a gym. This involved a range of services – supply of music, wifi supply, social network site, the phone, the gym itself. These all converge in a range of value propositions that are linked together. This gives rise to potential disruptive technologies or service, for example, a supermarket paying for your fuel to drive to their supermarket (already started by Tesco and fuel vouchers). Professor Ng’s book entitled ‘Value and worth; creating new markets in the digital economy’ will be published in 2013 by Innovorsa Press, Cambridge, UK.
Charlotte Crossley, then presented the Birmingham Science Park http://bsp-a.com/ which was one of the oldest science parks in the UK and had just celebrated its 30th birthday. One of the strong points of Birmingham Science Park is that it has attracted a computer games industry and it is estimated that the West Midlands produces 25% of the market for games. The Science Park will open a new digital
plaza with workspace for the future and technology for the future provided by CISCO in 2014 http://bsp-a.com/press/birmingham-science-parks-icentrum-building-to-become-a-cisco-living-lab-showcase-for-collaborative-technology/ . This will give more incubator space and increase the attractiveness of the park for ICT-based entrepreneurs.
Richard Tuffs introduced the ERRIN network www.errin.eu and the Future Internet-PPP and the CONCORD Project http://www.fi-ppp.eu/concord/. Richard Tuffs focused on the opportunities for call three which would open in May 2013 of Future Internet and highlighted the need for the region to start developing a consortium that would respond to the needs of the call. The key elements of any consortium should be that it can able to bring the results of the FI-PPP to the market and engage in market uptake with industrial support. It is also important to engage with a wide community and focus on building an ecosystem based around industrial partners and their SME ecosystem which can connect to innovative SMEs and involve a full range of partners including industrial associations, regional development agencies, public sector and of course SMEs.
Dr Khaldoun Al Agha from LRI, Université Paris-Sud/CNRS, France then presented the EIT ICT Knowledge and Innovation Community http://www.eitictlabs.eu/ . The EIT ICT KIC has five co-location centres based in Helsinki, Eindhoven, Stockholm, Berlin and Trento. London and Budapest will join as associate partners. The KIC has thirteen action lines http://www.eitictlabs.eu/action-lines/ including Digital Cities. Calls will be announced under these action lines in 2013 and a Digital City event will take place in March in Paris which give an update on previous activities. http://www.eitictlabs.eu/ict-labs/all-events/article/digital-cities-of-the-future-worskhop-paris/.
The role of the Digital Cities action line is to produce tools that can be used for smart cities such as: infrastructure to offer large-scale telecommunication systems to facilitate data exchange; the provision of distributed schemes for scalable systems aiming at large numbers of participants; optimized data management; identification, security and privacy; customized and new intelligent services and business model innovation, etc.
Again Khaldoun Al Agha emphasised the citizen aspect of smart cities. We need to develop smart citizens and there seems to be various models from top down perspectives such as Rio de Janeiro to more bottom up models developed by bloggers, and independent citizens. The ICT KIC is developing a hybrid model between the two.
Presentations can be found here.