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The Smart Way to Get Around Málaga - The SMART-FI Project

Interview:
09 January 2019

It was not that long ago that a GPS tracking device installed in your car was a wonderful new technology, now it has integrated into our lives and become the norm rather than something exotic and strange.  A car is also a carbon-intensive way of getting around, especially in a city with readily available public transport. As part of the SMART-FI project, a mobile application, CityGO, has been designed which assists the citizen or a visitor to navigate their way around Malaga as a pedestrian, a cyclist, by taking a bus or by resorting to a car if that is really the best option. Before we go into more detail about CityGO and its municipal counterpart, CityDash, first some background on the SMART-FI project.

SMART-FI- Using Open Data to make Cities Smarter

The growth of the Internet has provided us with a tsunami of data, and every organization, from private companies to the state and local authorities are collecting and storing it, but their ability to extract value from it is generally very limited. This is not because there is so much data, but because it is in variable formats and the relationships are unclear. SMART-FI remedies this problem by taking this disparate and heterogeneous data and homogenising it. It is also compliant with GDPR in that emails, messages and customer data are anonymised before being stored, it is all encrypted. The data is now in a format that makes it possible to apply predictive analytics that are of mutual benefit to the citizen and the city, on FIWARE, a European open development framework for context management applications.

But that is only part of the project objective. In order to demonstrate how the homogenised data can be used, three proofs of concept have been initiated in three cities, namely Malaga in Spain, Karlshamn in Sweden and Malatya in Turkey. These three pilots each have a different city focus but will provide a guideline to municipalities for how to make use of the SMART-FI data to interact with their citizenry and provide improved and intuitive services based on data patterns and analysis.

The five key objectives of SMART-FI

  •  Homogenisation of heterogeneous open data and data services,
  • Analysis and aggregation of data analytics services for predictions & recommendations;
  • Development of methodologies to deploy and interoperate services;
  • Alignment and contribution to FIWARE;
  • Suggest processes and motivate implementation of services in cities and municipalities.

SMART-FI in Malaga: CityGO and CityDash

In Malaga, ATOS Spain developed the CityGO mobile app to improve mobility across the city, and the complementary CityDash that enables the municipality to monitor, manage and improve the ability of citizens and visitors to get around. We interviewed Malena Donato Cohen of ATOS on the SMART-FI project in Malaga on the challenges and the wins.

About Malena Donato Cohen

 

Malena Donato is an Innovation Business Consultant and certified Design Thinking International Facilitator for ATOS SPAIN. Currently she is the SMART-FI coordinator and Exploitation Manager in ElasTest and STAMP (all H2020 projects). For the SMART-FI project her expertise focused on business planning, market analysis, exploitation and dissemination activities. In addition, she designs and facilitates internal workshops on Innovation and Creativity.

"Smart cities are about enabling citizens to have a better quality of life, where technology can be an enabler rather than an end goal in itself.”

Challenges Encountered

All projects have risks and challenges that even the best planning cannot circumvent. In a project that is so reliant on big data, Malena encountered several challenges on the road to a comprehensive data problem:

  • Heterogeneity - the data were disparate and needed to be homogenized to build a comprehensive overview of the city and how to navigate it;
  • Lack of an appropriate toolset - There is no off-the-shelf solution yet for homogenising smart city data, so this had to be built for the project to succeed;
  • Legislation - Any personal data received from citizens were subject to GDPR. The risks associated with privacy were avoided by anonymizing the data;
  • Open Access - This was a major challenge. While the municipality and other stakeholders were generally happy to share data, some entities regarded their data as proprietary with the potential to monetise it, and had to be persuaded to share it for the benefit of the community. It is expected that any companies who have not yet participated will join in as they see the popularity of the app growing.

Wins

  • Smart Citizens - Many smart city projects struggle to engage the citizens and community that the project has been designed to benefit. This was not the case in Malaga, where the benefits of CityGO made engagement simple and there has been a good take-up of the app;
  • Smart City - The municipality also appreciates the insights that the CityDash platform delivers with respect to urban mobility, and is exploring other areas of city oversight that can benefit from such platform;
  • Future Potential - The CityGO and CityDash can clearly be used in other cities to achieve similar results.

A Quick Peek at the Solution

Using SMART-FI Data to Assist the Citizen - The CityGO Mobile App

CityGO is a mobile application, which indicates to the user what public transport options are available at any time for a particular route. For instance, it suggests options such as electric car sharing, buses, the nearest public bike rental station, available parking spaces, etc. Everything is managed in real time to obtain an optimal route based on data provided by the sensor network and open data from the city. This is invaluable to the citizen and the visitor and also indicates accessibility and other useful information to move in the city.

The key feature of CityGO can be summarized as "Based on the user profile” (GPS position, usual routes, preferences). It adapts the routes to the individual user taking into account their daily routines to provide personalized recommendations, such as information about bus lines and stops, status of traffic and queues, bus schedules, car sharing, bicycle renting, and others, all in real-time. The app is currently available on Android, and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.atos.ari.mobility.

Future plans include an IOS version as well.

 Malaga City CityGO application demo)

Screenshots from the CityGO mobile app (source: Malaga City CityGO application demo)

 

The CityDash - A Dashboard for the Municipality

CityDash is a Web-based dashboard for the municipal control centre, which allows civil servants to visualise all data coming from the city sensor network to support everyday decision making and evidence-informed analysis to improve the traffic planning in the city in times of high tourist flows, sport events and so on. 

The key features of CityDash are:

  • a dashboard that enables the visualisation of real-time information;
  • time-series indicator data and interactive maps about all aspects of the city, such as city traffic flow, people movements, cars, bus fleets, location of citizens connected to the mobile app, …;
  • a video map showing citizen movements during the previous day, among other features.

Some more views of CityDash

CityDash has rich analytics that further assist the municipality in understanding the movements of their citizens, as well as the take-up of the CityGO app.

Some of the analytics screens from Malaga CityDash

A volatility analysis of the usage at the Cycle Stations

A heatmap illustrating the location of active users of the CitiGO app

The Benefits

The benefits of CityGO and CityDash can be realised by citizens, local authorities and public transport operators. Low-cost development and deployment of the customised urban mobility CityGOapp (not limited to the multi-modal journey planner) is the main enabler for passenger data analysis.

Benefits for the citizen are related to the recommendations on the best itinerary to take and  the optimal means of transport based on the real-time information in a proactive way, so that the user doesn't have to express his exact itinerary every time.

For the city, the app presents real advantages as it gives information on users' regular itineraries that allows better planning of routes (streets usage and possible adjustments, traffic lights, etc). CityGO gives information on bus routes, line information and also what the user does before and after taking a given bus - the data is completely anonymised. Also, the bicycle information systems provide information on users and how many available parking spaces are needed.

The project is nearing completion and has met with general approval. Tests and feedback from citizens have resulted in a viable and useful solution that can be scaled up and reused in any city that wants to improve the mobility of its citizens. Malena said there were a few hiccups along the way, but nothing that could not be managed without some diplomacy. The main roadblock was convincing private entities to provide data for the public good to be loaded into SMART-FI. She is thrilled to see CityGO being adopted by the citizens and city planners exploring the future possibilities of SMART-FI based on the success of CityDash.

Project Factsheet

(Source: https://jpi-urbaneurope.eu/project/smart-fi/)

Project Duration: 
2016-2018

Project Budget:   
EUR 811 211

Partners:   
ATOS Spain SA

 
University of Málaga

 
Technische Universität Wien

 
SAMPAS Bilisimve Iletisim Sistemleri A.S.

 
NetPort Science Park AB   

 
Karlshamn Municipality

 
Malatya Metropolitan Municipality 

 
Municipality of Málaga

URL:   
http://smart-fi.eu/

Contact:   
Mag. Malena Donato Cohen, ATOS Spain SA

E-mail address:
malena.donato@atos.net