VITAL: completion of our second year

Friday, October 30, 2015
Martin Serrano, National University of Ireland Galway & Insight Centre for Data Analytics Galway

The second year of the VITAL project has concluded and since the project began two years ago, many things have changed in cities, to the extent that the smarter cities concept is now seen more widely as playing a relevant role in our societies and smart city challenges are driving industries most involved in cities. This is not only because of the growth in the necessary technologies (i.e. the number of deployed sensors), but also because of increasing demand for new services from citizens.

Currently, smart city applications are based on diverse architectures, standards and legacy systems and this has led to a highly fragmented landscape of IoT services and technologies. This fragmentation directly inhibits the deployment of new technologies and contributes to perpetuating the so-called technological silos or verticals (separate ‘smart’ systems for  homes, industrial automation, transport, buildings and so on).

VITAL has understood this  challenge and proposed a radical shift in the development, deployment and operation of smart city applications, through introducing the notion that smart city systems that can “talk” to each other and share status and experiences across systems. This interaction allows many common problems to be resolved and opens the way for new business opportunities through data-level integration across numerous IoT resources.

In VITAL we are committed to investigate the other dimension of smart city systems and far from the technology side, we look at data dimension and knowledge generation. We are expecting that with VITAL vision the smart cities industry will revolutionize enabling more “smartness” to the different external aspects of the human being (cities, industries, agriculture, clothing, fashion, etc.). Based on the evolution of sensor technologies and the semantic technologies to unify the real and the virtual worlds. At the city level there is yet a need for investigating the convergence of systems and technology platforms (e.g. software systems, the semantic web technologies and the Internet). The main reason is for developing flexible smart city solutions/technology which abstracts data from heterogeneous sensor networks and bring this to a higher application-level(s) for enabling extended systems’ functionalities and also enable interconnected sensor networks and sensor web data interoperability in the cities.

In VITAL second period we have worked in the convergence of software systems, the integration of platforms and the convergence of semantic web with the Internet, heavily focused on the evolution of smart city technologies and the evolution to unify the traditional approaches for smart city dashboards, visualizers of smart city system (mostly sensor-based). 
We have reach a level of maturity to deploy online VITAL services based on two main needs in the city: traffic monitoring and citizens mobility. VITAL participants are focus on developing flexible smart city technology and by using the current city data production from deployed sensor systems bring smart city data to a higher application-level(s) and by doing this VITAL is also making a big step forward enabling smart regions of the future.

In smart regions of the future citizens will have the same services they are using in their home cities, but this time even if they move from one to another city, the city infrastructure becomes to be the channel for services and personalized applications while the data is the driver of such interactions.

Every smart city has its own model and development plan, no city is similar to other in terms of needs and priorities, this means one size doesn’t fit all, thus smart cities will be measured differently however at the regional level the systems that are connected facilitating services and operations enable for having better idea of the global advantages on developing the smart city technologies at local level. In VITAL we are aware of this evolution and we have understood that smart cities has a very local specific needs to solve while at the regional level there are more opportunities to generate wider and larger system applications and as such business opportunities.

In VITAL we will continue our already extensively work on investigating the support and the realization of large-scale deployments for the cities by means of big sensor data collection and annotation and also investigate data transformation and processing in order to enable smarter regions of the future. We also will work on the design principles for smart city infrastructure-related architectures, technologies for the city and by the city.