This year’s congress saw a record attendance of 18.754 Professionals, 675 Exhibitors, +700 Cities, +120 Countries.
I had the pleasure of attending this year’s congress, experience the latest IoT developments and meet some seriously interesting people.
This adventure started well accompanied as I jumped from the K-LAGAN HQ to an awaiting taxi with José Manuel Cruz (Director Smart City Apertum Digital / K-LAGAN senior advisor ), José Nicolás Silva (K-LAGAN’s very own chief Electronics Area Manager) and Jaume Canals (K-LAGAN Senior Key Account Manager and Automotive Racing Guru). The moment we stepped through the congress door, José Manuel introduced us to a broader concept, ‘Smart Regions’ with José Barcia González, Coordinador General Técnico de la Federación de Municipios de Madrid. This is an initiative that was born from the Madrilenian Federation of Municipalities with the aim of collaborating in the development of projects for the promotion of smart municipalities, digitizing the administration and facilitating the procedures of citizens.
Mayors, councilors and municipal technicians of the municipalities of Aranjuez, Ciempozuelos, San Martin de la Vega, Valdemoro and Pinto have put in common the bases to create in a few days the Advisory Council of the south of Madrid. (not as centric-minded as the Smart London Plan seen here !!)
Zoom out from Smart City for a moment and think of the numerous communities with less than 10,000 inhabitants, José Manuel tells us his thoughts on this as published in the ‘Smart.City.World’ (starting p.21):
“Once the dimension of the basic concept of an intelligent city is understood and what it, in itself involves for the improvement of quality of life of the people who form part of it, it makes sense, and more in a country with so many clusters of populations with less than 10,000 inhabitants and dispersed, applying to territories that hold as much or more inhabitants, the innovations that from Smart Cities to Smart Regions serve in the big city.
We live in a world that has transformed digitally and socially and in which the regions and their populations run the risk of furthering digital alienation if they do not join this evolution.
In Spain, by law, the public administrations have to digitize their processes and use the digital tools for relating to people whom demand better and more modern services that enrich the experience as users of the public services. With the National Smart Cities plan, a process of modernisation of large cities was initiated that logically has to reach the small ones too, as will imminently be shown by the third city plan that will focus on the regions, opening the concept beyond the rural areas, and providing the next step to Smart Region projects.”
That said, let us begin our tour of the Smart City Congress with an open mind, expanding its potential to Smart Regions, Smart Countries, Smart Continents…
With so many exhibitors (full list here), it was not easy deciding where to start so faced with such a dilemma, logic was cautiously applied and I decided to start reading the hall like a book!!
I stood in the middle, faced the entrance and then headed to the top-left corner.
It turns out the organisers had also applied a similar logic as I found myself at stand A101, ‘ACTUA INVEST IN ANDORRA’.
Andorra, the aspiring Smart Country
The curiosity was quickly rewarded as I came across the tri-cycle version of the ‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean DMC-12 and was warmly greeted by the creators team lead, Abhishek Agarwal, an MIT Graduate Research Assistant.
Abhishek’s super charismatic personality made it very easy to dive in and listen as he presented the self-driven Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV), a project of the Massachusetts Institute of Tecnology (MIT) in collabration with the Foundation ActuaTech, to promote Andorra as a “Living lab” country.
THE PEV is designed to promote healthy lifestyles and provide a means of sustainable mobility. The self-driven electric vehicle combines the benefits of autonomous electric vehicles, and programs using shared bicycles.
A map is pre-loaded into the vehicles memory and the LIDAR sensor, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light, and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.
Additionally, the PEV is equipped with Machine Learning to continuously improve its maneuvering skills.
The integration between this project and its environment is overseen by Luis Alberto Alonso Pastor, another fascinating and charismatic character, Luis is a PhD in Architecture, Research Scientist at CP Group, and coordinator of the Andorra Living Lab project at the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group. He oversees the integration of the group’s diverse research topics (Energy consumption, city simulation, urban mobility, innovation district and smart housing), in Andorra’s Living Lab project, to provide comprehensive solutions for urban and country challenges, in order to transform Andorra into an «internationally recognised intelligent country».
Another fascinating project undertaken in Andorra is OBSA, this is the private foundation Observatory for the Sustainability of Andorra and it is a research center whose main objective is the applied research in projects related to social, economic and environmental sustainability in Andorra.
The purpose of the studies is to provide the Andorran stakeholders (government, citizenship and private companies) the results and tools to support policy planning and decision making in various issues of priority interest for the country.
POTENTIAL USE OF SOLAR ON BUILDING ROOFS IN THE PYRENEES
The aim of this project is to characterise the potential of photovoltaic energy and solar thermal on the roofs of buildings in the Pyrenees and the implementation of a platform for visualization and consultation of the results.
In their own words – This line of work is associated with the project currently underway regarding potential for the use of the solar resource on roofs of buildings in the Pyrenees, financed by the Employment Community of the Pyrenees and carried out in collaboration with the company Sud Energies Renovables and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. The main objective of the project is to characterize the potential of photovoltaic energy and solar thermal on roofs of buildings in the Pyrenees. Unlike other geographic areas, the availability of this resource in mountain areas is very heterogeneous and is highly influenced by the topography and the architectural variability.
For this reason, we evaluate the potential of this resource in valleys with different typologies, comparing also profiles of generation and consumption.
One aspect of the project, has been to create a Geographic Information System showing the distribution of the capacity to exploit this resource in the study areas.
This tool will allow to classify the roofs based on their economic profitability, considering among other things, the legislative variability of the different zones of the Pyrenees, as well as generating scenarios of energy policies and their environmental impact.
The SolarScope textures are available on Github here.
Next generation chauffeured flying cars
Although there were many other exciting talks, I had time for just one more as I was drawn by the picture on the following slide:
Meet Felipe Varón, President/CEO of VARON VEHICLES, a Columbian/north American entrepreneur.
Buckle up as this bad boy is taking no prisoners!!
The prototype exists at a secret location in Columbia where the test flights have been taking place but our ingenious entrepreneur operates from Florida, USA.
The Idea is to have a fleet of the Varon vehicles to operate similarly to Uber in the sense that you would call your ride on the App and a chauffeured vehicle would come to pick you up to your remote location and drop you off whenever you chose. Dedicated parkings across towns in Andora for instance would have to be dedicated to the fleet although the vertical landing and takeoff would facilitate locations considerably.
Felipe says that they are now working on air traffic regulations to try and secure a specific altitude band within which his (and other flying vehicles) fleet could circulate.
He insisted that Varon Vehicles will not fly higher than a couple of hundred metres to limit the ‘scare’ factor associated with flying in general.
Smart Irrigation with real-time meteo controller
Moving on, I found myself stopping at the greenIQ stand whilst reading the words ‘Smart City Irrigation Platform’ and ‘Smart Garden Hub’ which I found very attractive on a personal level !
This device looks just like a fire alarm but in fact is a Wifi or ADSL controlled irrigation valve activator. This means that you enable and disable your irrigation valves at will from your mobile device. But it does much more as it also reads the weather servers which it accesses via your WLAN router and can decide whether to irrigate or not depending on the forecast. You can switch the functionality on and off and even connect additional humidity sensors to override the forecast if need be.
This Israeli company can also scale to industrial applications as they have developed an IoT platform for efficient landscape irrigation, this device is also capable of connecting to its cloud server via 3G in case of remote location.
Many thanks to the super professional and friendly explanation from Keren .
I could certainly do with one of these gadgets for my allotment but my children always ensure my wallet stays lean and clean thus I may have to ask father Christmas to help with that !!
Big Data Wizard on the Cloud
Continuing on my Smart tour, next stop the Isaac stand all the way from Central Italy.
Isaac DE (Data Engine) is a different approach to the Big Data world: a NoSQL Database Management Platform to collect and manage any data from any data source.
Only a few and simple steps to build a performing and powerful Big Data environment, with no impact on your technical infrastructure.
Sounds too good to be true so how do they do it??
No need of Big Data experience.
One of the biggest problem for companies that want to exploit the high potential of Big Data is the lack of specific skills and the need of professionals and DBAs, with the related need for further investments. Isaac was born to solve such problems and simplify the user’s life, allowing them to manage Big Data easily and build an entire cluster without writing a single line of code. With a “wizard”, the user will be able to install, configure, and launch the required components in few steps, having always the visibility of what will be installed on their servers. For advanced users there is a utility for advanced configuration as well.
No need to write Code
With the DB Builder tool, the codes will no longer be a brake on the performance growth, moreover no codes means a real acceleration. DB Builder has a double function: it will guide you in physically creating the schema, providing also useful tips for designing it. The procedures for creating keyspace, tables and indexes (which allow you to build your own database with no need to write codes) are enriched with tips on how to get better results. The DB Builder, therefore, helps the user to increase his experience within the NoSQL.
No need of Time to start
Just 15 minutes. Just the time for a coffee break, more or less. That is enough to start exploring, testing Isaac and discovering all its features. The user can comfortably install and configure Isaac without any waste of time, starting with few steps a path designed to increase the competitiveness of his company. The speed it is possible to implement Isaac with is the same that allows companies, through this platform, to make quickly the best decisions for their business, adapting to the frequent changes and evolutions in real time
That’s what is says on the can anyway, the company does offer a free demo so any doubters out there can check it out for themselves!!
The young ladies were very friendly and even gave me a use case as an example which loosely went like this; it involved utilizing the Deep Learning wizard on the Isaac cloud platform, to predict when street light bulbs would blow to change them before they did in a specific order. As a consequence, the Council benefited from this analysis by rescheduling its technical service staff to check specific lamp posts around the County in a specific order and thus save many man hours to be put to other uses.
CLICK&GROW Smart Farming / Home vertical garden
Living in the city ? Feeling guilty about it but doing your best by eating organic? Welcome to CLICKANDGROW from Estonia, these guys offered a very attractive set of products including this beautiful indoor, vertical farm.
This bad boy will consume 0.60 litres of water per plant in its lifetime!! this is estimated to be 37 times less than the volume of water consumed in the traditional way.
Fresh herbs and greens at your home or office always!!
The modular plant production units can be installed in any indoor environment for growing vegetables, fresh herbs and leafy greens all year round. I really love its scalable easy to use system which the apparently relies on state-of-the-art technology like plant growing substrate Smart Soil, high-tech LED lighting solution and a precise watering system.
A key feature to this product are the ‘accessories’ which in this case comprise of Smart Soil which keeps the level of oxygen, water, pH and nutritional ingredients at optimal levels. The Smart Soil has allowed them to minimize the need for user maintenance, and completely eliminated the need of sensor calibration thus making the technology idiot-proof and cost-efficient. No additional fertilization or man/woman power is required, the equipment works alone!!
Many varieties of edible and non-edible plant capsules are available online on their website which you can check here.
Just to iterate that we at K-LAGAN would be more than happy to install and test a modest setup in our central offices to follow up this blog with real evidence should the lovely people at clickand grow wish to contact us at K-LAGAN and send us a sample unit for the office ? !!
I was truly Astounded with Estonia’s contribution to the Congress, thanks again for your presentations, thumbs UPP!!
AVEPOINT ‘CITIZEN SERVICES’ – Agile Communications between the Citizens and the Authorities
Avepoint have many products on offer but this one caught my eye as transparency and efficiency in public services has plenty of space for improvement and anything that helps is worth listening to.
Just when I thought people couldn’t get friendlier, I came across these two charming people at the CITIZEN SERVICES stand (a Microsoft partner).
They were promoting a Cloud based App which allows anyone from the public to report an issue they have detected in the streets. This appears to be a win-win situation for both the authorities and the citizens as issues can be reported for free and then a field engineer can be dispatched to the reported issue thus considerably improving the use of government resources.
With Citizen Services, government agencies or citizen-support non-government organisations (NGOs) can now automate case management and incident reporting. This allows field officers, operational centers and the citizens they support to input and manage requests from any device, anywhere, at any time.
Having extensive experience with government public services in the UK, France, Spain and Portugal, I can confirm that non of the mentioned organizations have in place a system that is satisfying. They all need to update their systems and perhaps the digital transformation will make a difference. I retain some reservations admittedly but considering the savings implied, this will surely deserve some attention by the authorities.
To end on a happy note (especially so close to Christmas) I could not sign off without mentioning the Robot Shop ?
Ro-botica is a Barcelona based shop completely dedicated to educational toys and robots!! They sell robots for all ages and at all prices too, I found this brochure particularly useful to filter which robot is best at what age band and also to see which brands are developing which type of devices:
This is a great way to introduce the children to IoT and technical professions in general not to mention the participation of mum and dad which is becoming rare these days! For once, the whole family can get involved as there are fun challenges for everyone in robotics.
Of course, there were many more things to report on from this year’s Smart City congress but I hope this gives you a little flavor of some of the services on offer. Until next time my friends, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you feel like it as feedback is the key to improvement!
Written by Stephane Rodicq