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Smart City applications – using a fog computing approach

While the majority of Smart City applications can be developed and deployed using traditional approaches, researchers are investigating how a new class of large scale, dynamic applications can leverage the power of Fog Computing, to build and deploy applications that are distributed throughout the smart city running on a variety of devices ranging from city servers, down to embedded computers in traffic signals and light posts. As part of a longer term research project, Urban Opus has been working with…

The case for a Smart City Data Brokerage

Central to the mission of Urban Opus has been the idea of a citizen centric data brokerage – a means for citizens to take control of their data and manage who uses it and how they use it. A data brokerage works by allowing anybody to make their data available, and then to offer that data to others in a controlled manner. Data brokerage versus open data You hear a lot about open-data in the smart city community, data that…

Urban Opus joins the Urban Technology Allliance (UTA)

    The Urban Opus Society has completed membership agreements to join the Urban Technology Alliance (UTA), a new organization having a launch event on December 18th, 2018 at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. Urban Opus will be present at the launch and has committed to provide leadership in the development of data brokerage solutions enabling the harmonization open, corporate and citizen data streams.       UTA is a global non-profit organization providing city-scale testbeds from all around the…

Smart City Data Brokerage: lessons from Copenhagen

A city data brokerage is the next step for open data and provides a means for individuals and organisations to publish, buy, sell and trade data. It provides an essential level of trust and control to encourage organizations to make available high value data sets. It also offers a framework in which individuals can begin to share and control access to their personal data. One of the forefront cities in exploring this concept is Copenhagen, who have deployed a trial…

Smart Cities: Technology Trends (Part 3)

Smart Cities: technology trends (Part 3) Follow @rodgerlea Recently I’ve been asked to write a technology trends paper for the IEEE looking at the main technology trends affecting Smart Cities. This is a broad topic, covering a lot of ground and I’ve been forced to pick a subset of technology trends that are affecting the evolution of smart cities. I’ve broken the topic into manageable sections – each a single blog post – as follows: PART 1 Smart cities: background and…

Smart Cities: Technology Trends (Part 2)

Smart Cities: technology trends (Part 2) Follow @rodgerlea Recently I’ve been asked to write a technology trends paper for the IEEE looking at the main technology trends affecting Smart Cities. This is a broad topic, covering a lot of ground and I’ve been forced to pick a subset of technology trends that are affecting the evolution of smart cities. I’ve broken the topic into manageable sections – each a single blog post – as follows: PART 1 Smart cities: background and…

Smart Cities: Technology Trends (Part 1)

Smart Cities: technology trends (Part 1) Follow @rodgerlea Recently I’ve been asked to write a technology trends paper for the IEEE looking at the main technology trends affecting Smart Cities. This is a broad topic, covering a lot of ground and I’ve been forced to pick a subset of technology trends that are affecting the evolution of smart cities. I’ve broken the topic into manageable sections – each a single blog post – as follows: PART 1 (this blog) Smart cities:…

LoRaWAN – An IoT Urban Innovations Platform

One of the challenges with achieving smart city goals, especially involving citizen participation, is that it isn’t yet easy, or cheap, to get everyday urban things to talk to the Internet.  There’s a variety of staging technologies including Bluetooth, NFC, RFID, WiFi and cellular, but each has a significant range, reliability, or cost limitation. For example, if I’m a citizen and for whatever reason I want to talk to my bicycle over the Internet, or I run a small company and…

Visualizing crime in Vancouver, BC

We created a couple of simple visualizations for the Vancouver crime data (open data) There’s a viz showing crime rates from 2003-2016 with an ability to look at specific types of crime for specific years. A second viz shows an interactive visualization of the 2016 crime statistics for Vancouver with a map of the crime’s location. We use Tableau for these visualizations – a full set is available on the Urban Opus tableau page

Electric Vehicles and the Smart City – energy impact and usage

Take-up of Electric Vehicle   Electric vehicles are coming – worldwide growth rates are picking up with China leading the world. However the implications for smart cities, in terms of increased electricity demand, smart grid infrastructure and CO2 abatement are not as simple as you’d think.       As shown below (From EV columes.com), global monthly sales are now at 70,000 vehicles. Not a lot compared to global sales of regular cars, but it’s now significant and growing rapidly.  …

Benchmarking the CKAN Datastore API

CKAN is a popular data repository used by many Open Data projects and widely used in a number of Smart Cities. Here in Canada, we use CKAN as part of the Urban Opus data hub. The Urban Opus Smart City hub has been running for over 2 years. The details of its design can be found in the technical paper but it basically consists two core components, CKAN as a document repository and an IoT platform (WoTKit) used for time series data as…

Canada’s Smart City Mission to Europe – final report

Final report from Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) on the Canadian Smart City Mission to Europe Earlier in the year, we participated in the Canadian Smart City mission to Europe, we blogged about the event here. The Mission was organized by the Candian Research Council (NRC) and they have recently released their official mission report. You can read the full report here: EUREKA Canada Smart Cities Mission April 2016_Mission Report Highlights Mission Objectives Establish new EUREKA projects in Smart Cities…

Canada’s Vision for Smart Cities

Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) has identified Cities of the Future as a game-changing technology and economic opportunity.  Following a national dialogue, an Executive Summit was held in Toronto on March 31, 2016, resulting in an important summary report that will become the seed for Canadian R&D strategy in this sector. The conclusion so far is that the opportunity for Canada is to muster leadership in the following three areas (in order): Better Infrastructure and Infrastructure Management Efficient Transportation; and Renewable Energy The…

2nd International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technology and Data – Call for papers

Call For Papers: The Second International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technology and Data Workshop Homepage: http://www.ht.sfc.keio.ac.jp/iwsc16/ August 18th 2016 (PST): Abstract Submission Deadline August 25th 2016 (PST): Full paper submission September 15th, 2016 (PST): Acceptance Notification October 14th, 2016 (PST): Camera-ready Due December 13th, 2016 : Workshop Day The 2nd International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technology and Data will be held in conjunction with the 2016 ACM International Conference on Middleware (Middleware2016) in Trento, Italy on December 12th…

From Smart Urban to Smart Rural

Urban Opus is a partner in a new Canadian national research project looking at how data can benefit rural communities. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of ‘smart city’ projects occur in large urban centers.  There are a variety of reasons for this, including the unfortunate perception that rural cities, towns and villages have less cash, capacity and incentive for data solutions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For example, while large cities seek economic benefit from the smart management of the internal complexity of…

Smart City Standards – an overview

Trying to make sense of Smart City standardization activities Follow @rodgerlea Updated Jan 2017. You may be interested in my article on Technology Trends affecting Smart Cities which includes a discussion of Smart City Standards. Update Nov. 2016: This blog has been turned into an article for the IEEE standards online Magazine, read it here Recently I’ve been trying to get a handle on Smart City standards for an IEEE trend paper I’ve been asked to write on Smart Cities.…

A Poster for Smart City Public Engagement

In preparation for some workshops Urban Opus has created a poster (below) to illustrate the how open, proprietary and citizen data co-exist in smart cities intent on effective public engagement. The key insight is that most cities currently have completely unbalanced priorities related to the Inform, Consult, Involve and Observe interaction channels with their citizens through data.  Healthy, smart cities will seek to cultivate an evolving, transparent balance. ESRI has separately classified citizen engagement into seven categories as follows: Public Information, Public Reporting,…

The No. 1 citizen engagement strategy for Smart Cities – Bribery?

Bribery, or perhaps it’s better described as clever bartering, is at the heart of a number of Smart City applications. I came across a lovely example of it recently in a service from Glasgow city aimed at improving energy efficiency for the city. The planners wanted to develop a 3D model of the city, with information on building efficiency, roof types, energy use, etc. The goal: “The model would allow energy planners to look at all aspects of energy consumption…

Mobs, Tribes & Peers

A new start-up venture emerging from Urban Opus is demonstrating how social networking data can help communities become stronger, smarter and more innovative. The “wisdom of crowds” is like an urban myth: we want to believe, but tangible examples are hard to pin down.  And don’t crowds often turn into mobs?  Volatility and unpredictability make us wary of digital democracy. If collective humanity is to become a primary source of intelligence for smart cities we need to understand how to make ‘common sense’ not just absolutely reliable, but also quantifiably better than any other…

Smart City Copenhagen: key lessons from the Head of City Data, Winn Nielsen

Follow @rodgerlea I recently attended a presentation by Winn Nielsen, Head of City Data for Copenhagen. I was struck both by how far they had gone in laying the foundation for a smart, data driven city, and by how similar their approach to data was to the Urban Opus model. Some of the key messages from Winn’s presentation are: Complexity of issues and the need for technology suppliers to be partners not traditional suppliers. Winn stressed several times that the…

BookLore – The Internet of Things We Read

My local public library has a door slot for returning books after hours.  You can see the growing pile of books through the window, and on some weekends the pile gets so tall, reaching back up to the slot, that you can imagine a fantasy scenario where the books inside have crawled to the door and climbed on top of one another to try to get out through the slot, perhaps to search for readers… A similar ‘social life of…

Canadian Smart City Mission to Europe

One of our partner companies, Sense Tecnic Systems Inc, was recently invited to participate in a Canadian trade mission to Europe representing Canada’s Smart City technology companies. The trade mission, involving 15 Canadian companies first visited the UK for a 1 day smart city workshop. This was well attended by UK companies and innovation groups including: Future Cities Catapult: UK’s innovation hub for Smart Cities: video link, seek to 15 minutes in Bristol is Open: Smart City platform and projects from…

Canada’s new priority on the Future of Cities

Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) has today announced that the Future of Cities is the first of a series of high-priority innovation drivers for the Canadian economy.   The Future of Cities priority was distilled from a program of national consultations resulting in the NRC Gamechanging Technologies Initiative.

BC Hydro – Smart City Panel – October 27

Smart Cities on the Pathway to Net-Zero – 2015 Power Smart Forum – October 27, 2015 Vancouver BC Hydro hosts an annual Power Smart Forum for its major customers, and this year a keynote panel will address “Smart City” opportunities globally, and in Canada, with specific focus on smart grids and energy-related innovations. Smart cities are about open data, open infrastructure, and open innovation. Digital technologies and innovative design are changing the way citizens use resources and are affecting how…

First International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technologies and Data

Panel Session Summary by @rodgerlea Panelists Levent Gurgen. CEA-LETI France. Naonori Ueda. NTT Communication Science Labs, Japan. Daniel Gooch. Open University, UK. Salvatore Longo. NEC Europe Ltd. Germany. Masahiro Mochizuki. Ritsumeikan University, Japan. Rodger Lea. University of British Columbia, Canada. (Moderator) Background As part of the 1 day Smart Cities workshop held at the 2015 UbiComp conference in Osaka, Japan, a panel session was organized to discuss some of the key issues that had been raised in the workshop papers (See:…

Node-RED tutorial

  Update May 16: We’ve added a new lecture covering Dashboards/UI techniques to the lecture series on Node-RED – check it out at: http://noderedguide.com/. They complement the tutorials described below and offer a step by step guide to learning how to program using Node-RED. Roberto Calderon over at Sense Tecnic (www.sensetecnic.com) has been busy over the summer creating some excellent tutorials for Node-RED as well as for the WoTKit which is the IoT platform sitting underneath the Urban Opus data hub.…

Smart cities: engagement, innovation and lessons from several deployments

  Follow @rodgerlea We’ve been building Smart City applications and services for a number of years – most notably via Urban Opus in Canada and Smart Streets in the UK. During that time we’ve been exploring how best to foster a vibrant Smart City ecosystem. In particular we’ve seen time after time how Smart City projects get started in a burst of enthusiasm, and then wither when something new comes along. They wither because they are not self sustaining, perhaps because…

Hay On Wye, innovation and the US ambassador to the UK – or why Instagram isn’t as interesting an innovation exemplar as Eastman Kodak.

@rodgerlea I recently attended a talk on Innovation at the annual Hay On Wye literary festival. A strange place for an innovation talk you might think, and to a certain extent you’re right. It wasn’t quite what I expected, and certainly light on content. It was, however, interesting to hear what the US ambassador to the UK thought about innovation as well as his role in explaining the US’s position to UK citizens. At one point, the interviewer, Alec Ross,…

Call for papers – Smart City Workshop at Ubicomp 2015

Call For Papers: The First International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technology and Data Extended deadlines: June 5th, 2015: Submission Deadline June 29th, 2015: Acceptance Notification July 10th, 2015: Camera-ready Due September 7th, 2015: Workshop Day Workshop Homepage: http://www.ht.sfc.keio.ac.jp/iwsc15/ The 1st International Workshop on Smart Cities: People, Technology and Data will be held in conjunction with the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp 2015) in Osaka, Japan on from Sep. 7-11, colocated with ISWC 2015. Accepted…

Smart City Datahubs – an innovation ecosystem enabler

Follow @rodgerlea One of the most significant issues facing Smart Cities is how to use OpenData and City Data, especially citizen contributed data, to facilitate new innovative city services. Pushing Opendata to city websites has certainly opened up data for access, but it’s still the case that most Open Data is hard to use – partly because of data formats and partly because of the lack of consistent access. These issues become even worse when you want to add in data…

House prices in Vancouver – what can you afford?

One the the biggest issues facing Metro Vancouver is housing affordability. We have some of the most expensive housing in the world and we are low on any of the affordability measures used worldwide. A lovely visualization I cam across recently, by Chad Skelton of the Vancouver Sun, shows how you can take a public data set – in this case the National Household survey of 2011, and use a free data viz tool – in this case Tableau public,…

Smart Cities: technology challenges

 As part of our recent hackathon, a series of questions were asked to the local organizers of the cities involved in the Global Urban Datafest. The questions and answers give some useful insight into the main issues we are trying to address and my thoughts on how we at Urban Opus can tackle those issues. —- As a faculty member at the University of British Columbia and President and CEO of Internet of Things platform company Sense Tecnic, you spend…

Hackathon results

Results from the March Smart City Hackathon We had  a fantastic turn out for our Smart City hackathon – 45 people and 9 teams competed for our local prizes (6 Pi’s, 6 lego kits and 6 gift cards) as well as the larger Global Urban Datafest prizes. A full list of the projects and teams can be found here: http://www.global.datafest.net/projects     –     Look for the Vancouver projects. Some thoughts about Smart Cities and technologies arising from the Hackathon…

Hackathon resources

We’ve put up a hackathon resources page RESOURCES

Smart City Hackathon; Feb 21/22

Smart City Hackathon Urban Opus is hosting a Smart City Hackathon during the weekend of Feb 21/22 as part of the global Urban Data Fest which is taking place in cities across the world. More details

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