Focus area: Smart City – Contributing to Beautiful BeijingJul 07 2014 · 0 comments · Focus Areas
One of the grand themes in China-Finland collaboration is urbanisation. In digital solutions, the concept of Smart City combines a variety of technology and application areas that have been selected for joint R&D&I and piloting activities that involve multiple stakeholders in active cooperation. Smart cities are not primarily about technology but about solutions for supporting planning, decision making and operative activities for the city for better serving citizens while ensuring economic and environmental sustainability and best use of resources. Many of the enabling technologies and services for smart city being studied and developed in ICT Alliance activities, also involve pre-commercial pilots in Finland and China. The topics include such as sensing, connectivity, cloud computing, geospatial services as well as social media and mobile messaging platforms, linking people and the intelligent environment. Data fusion and analysis of data originating from the variety of sources, i.e. big data, is also involved. These ongoing projects include the Finnish-led Tekes funded projects, Everyday Sensing (Cloud, IoT, data analysis, and social media), Sensing City Traffic, Finland’s Enhanced Navigation using COMPASS/Beidou Signals, and the Finnish-Chinese Green ICT R&D&I Living Lab for Energy Efficient, Clean and Safe Environments, and well as the Chinese-led MOST funded projects, IoT applied to traffic information and Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication.
For establishing active links with relevant forums and facilitators in this area the ICT Alliance coordination team (DIGILE) has recently been in discussions with such Chinese industry alliances that play key role in the area. In particular, the National Industry Alliance of Smart City Technology Innovation (NIASCTI) that is supervised by the MOHURD and being supported and cooperated with MOST and NDRC, will provide a relevant network to work with ICT Alliance for moving forward in the China-Finland cooperation.
The new services enabled by the technology and rapid penetration of mobile Internet include a variety of demand responsive services in traffic and other areas. Thus, in the Internet Economy era, innovation is very much about business models and service experiences instead of being just technology-driven. Many such services are already provided both by public actors (e.g. Kutsuplus.fi by Ajelo offered by HSL, Helsinki Region Transport) and by rapidly growing private companies. The Uber taxi service that originated from the US and since grown to a globally operating Internet company and similar services supported by the Internet giants, Alibaba and Tencent, in China, are among the prominent examples already in wide use. When combined with better understanding of users everyday activities, contexts, behaviours and needs we can expect the future demand driven and “resource optimal” services to emerge.
Smart cities – and innovative cities – are also about enabling the communities and citizens to become actively involved in services creation and in contributing to the development of the urban environment and the quality of life. Thus solutions that support participative development as well as open innovation are relevant in the future. In particular, the Open Data movement that makes public data sources, such as the data from various city services, available via open APIs for third parties to innovate new services are under active development and may form one element for joint projects. Social media analysis and creating of new solutions that leverage social media and chat services for communication with the “smart devices” are among recent trends and already included in some of the ICT Alliance projects.
Smart cities – being smart in developing neighbourhoods, building and homes
The work on smart cities in ICT Alliance can be described in a multi-layered view: smart cities consist of smart neighbourhoods with smart building and smart homes in a setting where users and communities are key actors. The related service architectures and platforms are being studied involving approaches that may provide guiding principles for the work. A good example, being jointly developed in international cooperation, is the “city-on-demand” concept that has been developed in the cooperative of led by Prof. Jarmo Suominen, Aalto University and MIT, and Dr. Su Yunsheng, Tongji University.
A sustainable city is developed by optimising the use of existing and emerging resources, supporting resource sharing, and by involving the citizens and communities in active role. For example, energy efficiency results from efficient on-demand usage of resources in mobility and housing. Work environments will be increasingly rented as a services that adapt according to the intended use by employing configurable spaces and related services, transportation will be based on combination of on-demand solutions and user optimised travel chains where environmentally sound solutions can be prioritized by users, and services for living at home support our changing habits and over time changing needs of living by providing situationally relevant configurations of spaces and services – in the best case automatically created based on observed rhythms and needs.
Such solutions range from home level, to buildings, neighbourhoods, city districts and eventually to city levels. For future cities it will be important to make the top-down City-driven initiatives and the bottom-up user and community-driven initiatives “meet-in-the-middle” and to leverage the synergies. In particular, the development of solutions for the public sector, private sector and consumer markets should be supported the variety of services in a city ranging from transport, to environmental solutions, and to health, wellbeing and senior care.
In smart city the “Service Architecture (in the city context) refers to the linking of the physical and digital environments, circumstances and people’s action. It aims at supporting people’s and organisations goals with regards to actions, habits and daily routines based on analysing the environments, circumstances, and service capability, and by linking the technical, economical and operational value to the emotional value and the customer experience. A socially dense city can also be a truly human city based on local neighbourhoods connected together in most efficient ways and energising and inspiring its users. Neighbourhoods that support flexible and multifaceted services are desirable areas – and create editable cities – where the services support their users’ everyday life and bring added value to it.
ICT enablers, in addition to the above mentioned sensing, connectivity, cloud and other technologies, include e-identity, authentication and easy to use payment solutions that make the efficient service use as easy and attractive as possible. Specific technologies currently studied in China-Finland cooperation as enablers for enabling easy access flow with automatically configurable spaces and payments is NFC. However, more advanced biometric solutions that would enable “Me as my signature” approach will also be studied. With personal data being collected from almost every aspect of people’s online activities and their physical life it will become a major asset and basis for future services.
Consequently the research and development of solutions for Personal Data Ecosystem is actively ongoing. Importantly, trust is required among the personal data ecosystem parties to allow data to flow and to be leveraged and enriched. For example, in the above outlined sharing economy services establishing trust among the parties is a necessity for their growth (examples such as Airbnb apartment rental service and Uber and other transportation network companies are well known examples). Finland as a globally recognised gateway for trusted digital services, and China as a prime mover in new digital and Internet services innovation and adoption, are well positioned to leverage their complementary capabilities and expertise in this area for the global markets.
Smart City – basis for international multi-sectoral R&D&I collaboration
The solutions for smart cities are of systemic nature and need to involve a variety of stakeholders, disciplines and technologies as well as several administrative and industry sectors. Thus, they form a natural context for cross-sectoral cooperation. For facilitation of international R&D&I and piloting activities in this area it is important to establish cooperative links among entities that represent the relevant government sectors both at national and at city level as well as close cooperation among the industry specific research entities. In Finland, the Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation, SHOKs, being prime actors in their respective industry sectors and there are several who are already involved, or becoming active in China cooperation such as CLEEN – Cluster for Energy and Environment, RYM – Built Environment Innovations, and SalWe – Health and Well-being.
Contributing to Beautiful Beijing
In ICT Alliance the current activities can be categorised by a few thematic areas including intelligent traffic and urban mobility services, environmental monitoring services, and smart home and smart building solutions. These all contribute to sustainability, in particular in resource use, and to the improved quality of living environments and services in the city and at home. And, all these areas are such that they contribute to Beautiful Beijing cooperation.
In traffic and urban mobility services ICT Alliance has launched the International Research Forum on Intelligent Sensing and Services in Urban Environment for Traffic and Mobility (ISSUE-TM) to bring the active research teams and other involved actors together in China – Finland cooperation and in wider international cooperation involving e.g. team from the US. This is the first thematic Research Forum launched under the ICT Alliance.
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Learning from the experiences other such Research Forums are being planned in areas where active multiparty China-Finland cooperation is ongoing and there is call for such as facilitating forum that goes beyond individual projects and organisations. The ISSUE-TM involves pilots in Finland (e.g. City of Oulu, City of Tampere and Helsinki region), with University of Oulu, University of Tampere, and Aalto among key research partners. The work involves companies of current ICT Alliance projects and DIGILE’s Data-to-intelligence (D2I) programme and new are being invited. In China there are corresponding ICT Alliance projects e.g. in Shanghai and Hangzhou, and active teams in Fuzhou and in Beijing.
In environmental monitoring services the focus has been on air quality monitoring and analysis services where there has been already several years of activity towards China in the CLEEN MMEA China Testbed project. It has involved several companies such as Pegasor and Vaisala, research centers and sectoral research institutions such as VTT and FMI, and universities such as Aalto and Tampere University of Technology. This area has become particularly timely and urgent as the air quality situation has become very challenging in cities such as Beijing, and others. Among the other smart city topics related to traffic and to buildings, this is a priority in the Beautiful Beijing cooperation between China and Finland.
To facilitate joint research in digitally enabled new solutions in air quality monitoring ICT Alliance organised meetings in March 2014, leveraging also the synergies with CLEEN, for bringing together companies such as GeoStar and NavInfo in China and Pegasor, Vaisala, FMI, Active Life Village, in Finland. The concrete aim was to create cooperation in developing and testing new services to extend the already existing AirQuality Platform for Beijing provided by GeoStar and its partners. This resulted also to the submission of a joint proposal to the joint call of Tekes and MOST submitted by May 2014. In addition to fine particle monitoring and analysis, linking user generated observations as well as health advice and alerts are planned to be included. This will be important in particular for people at risk due to age or health conditions.
While the outdoor air quality will take time to improve even if strict measures would be immediately taken there are immediate opportunities to improve the quality of air – and the quality of life – indoors. This area is included in the work of some of the ICT Alliance projects, like the Finnish-Chinese Green ICT R&D&I Living Lab for Energy Efficient, Clean and Safe Environments, led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It will also be one of the areas to be promoted in the smart home and smart appliances cooperation aiming at wellbeing for at home. For example, the ”Home-as-a-Service Platform” concept will be adopted and demonstrated in the new Joint Lab on Intelligent Services Embedded in Everyday Life (ISEEL) in Shanghai at Sino-Finnish Centre, Tongji University, to be set up in 2014. It will initially focus on the wellbeing of seniors and will provide a base for more generic smart home services and elements in creating more comprehensive smart neighbourhood and smart city solutions. This area is discussed in more detail in Focus Area: Elderly Services and Smart Home.