During 2016, the first steps were made towards establishing the city of Antwerp, Belgium, as one city-wide living lab of smart city technology, and what can hopefully become a benchmark for urban environments around the world.
These developments are part of the “City of Things’ project, aiming to examine how a large city like Antwerp can be transformed into a smart city within a realistic framework, and in close collaboration with residents and the city council. The first steps was to make sure that everyone, including stakeholders and policymakers, are on the same page, so that there will be no duplication of effort and that Antwerp’ s solutions can act as a template for the development of other smart cities. For this reason, the city is publishing a reference book documenting the process, which is currently on its fourth edition.
A further, important, step, is to set up 100 sensor gateways throughout the city. These will allow the tens of thousands of wireless sensors worn by pedestrians or attached to vehicles, infrastructure or buildings to send data to a wide range of applications. 20 of these digital entry gates are already in operation.
In addition, two Post Office vans driving around the city are currently equipped with Imec’ s wireless multi-parameter sensors that gather information about pollution, including the CO2 and NO2 levels. The future expansion of these mobile sensors will allow for a wealth of information to become constantly available, including detailed weather forecasts, traffic information and air quality, down to the level of individual street corners.
But all the high-tech infrastructure will only form the foundation of Antwerp as a digital city. The real move towards a smart city will closely involve the inhabitants themselves. Starting in 2017, a large number of volunteers will test and refine the intelligent applications to be used in the smart city, questioning users for feedback, thus turning Antwerp into a proper living lab.
Most importantly, however, the initiative will examine how smart applications can affect and change people’ s behavior. For example, how can a smart app encourage people to behave more sustainably or more healthily without taking away some of their comfort? This behavioral change, part of the so-called “outcome-based economy, is a key component of many new business and governance models, and one of the big challenges that smart cities and regions are expected to face in the near future.
The original article can be found in Sensors Online, here.