Expert in a smart city, e-state, and digitization at the National Institute for Strategic Studies. Founder of the think-and-do tank Smart Cities Polska
Have you ever thought about your city as a computer, and about institutions and administration as an OS operating system for it?
This metaphor is becoming more and more relevant to reality. Telephones are turning into smartphones and cities into smart cities. The new system for cities is being downloaded…
According to statistics, you use a smartphone to read this page. Do you know what is the most important and most valuable component of it besides the camera? Of course, its operating system.
This single element can increase the power and safety of the device. If it works inefficiently, you risk losing data, slowing down performance, and quickly draining the battery. The current city’s operating systems have many disadvantages. We know this feeling of system malfunction well.
If the operating system performs its function in the background, we can experience games and multimedia on the screen and use our software necessary for a business. The same rule applies to cities and it’s “operating system”.
The philosophy behind the system is what makes the difference
We know the difference between Windows Phone, Android and Apple well. Of course, the first one is no longer used. Microsoft has painfully learned that the only action focused on supporting the development of an open ecosystem and engaging creators to build their business on it has a long-term sense.
Now we are waiting for the Chinese movement and for the HarmonyOS. An opportunity for the European Union to maintain its competitiveness is the choice of several specializations on which it will focus its R&D efforts to maintain its position in rivalry with the US and China.
One such program was Future Internet, currently transformed into FiWare. Why were cities chosen as the area to work on the future internet? Well, in my opinion, and as I understand from expert translations, it is because no transmission happens in a vacuum, and the majority of us live in cities.
Cities will be more alive than ever
Even our digital life is increasingly taking place in real life. Communities are moving move from the internet to real places (coworking, coliving).
Functions related to the management of our personal data also “go down” to the “background”. We pay just through our presence, we order services and information by voice etc. With the popularization of AR and VR, additional navigation in the city’s information system will be increasingly used outside the narrow screen of the phone.
However, all this is integrated into the logic created by the city, with its map, transport system, energy system, functions of the institution, events between residents, the market for data exchange between platforms, etc. Wherever commercial single-functional solutions exist, they can be integrated into one system with one “desktop”, user profile, artificial intelligence as an assistant supporting our goals, etc.
What is the operating system for a city?
For the first time, I had the pleasure to see the operating system desktop for cities last week. Built on European FiWare with open-source Digital Enabler components, it allows you to install all kinds of software based on data from sensors and other sources.
This is just the beginning of the possibilities that come with it. Big-data analytics, AI, are some modules that can be integrated into the system. The system, like the Linux installer, recognizes, among others all types of sensors, which are already located in the city and allows you to refer to them as the device installed in the system (multiple data connections are created).
Due to the fact that they are available from the level of one programming environment, they can be combined in any way to obtain previously impossible visualization effects, statistics supporting decisions, simulation and calculation methods.
Examples of applications that we saw were the construction of a heat-map of bicycle transport, correlates with city fees, rubbish, demographics of people in the area, the occupancy of parking spaces, etc.
All data can be arranged on a dashboard by the drag & drop method and as a manager or mayor of the city, you can view indicators in real-time. Of course, there can also be views for all residents and guests.
Here, it is worth mentioning Smart Cities Polska’s plans to create our own Polish edition of an open system for cities, to which we invite our partners, the public sector and investors.
*A version of this contribution has appeared on Smart Cities Polska.