Participatory Design of Use Cases for an IoT Open Platform to Support Smart Urban Development: Approach and Method

Participatory Design of Use Cases for an IoT Open Platform to Support Smart Urban Development: Approach and Method

Alice Schweigkofler, Katrien Romagnoli, Gabriel Sanz Salas, Dieter Steiner, Michael Riedl, Dominik Matt
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7091-3.ch021
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The chapter describes the approach for the South Tyrolean city of Meran in the creation of use cases and the implementation of an urban agenda (roadmap) for the development of the city from a smart city perspective, with the involvement of citizens, experts, and local administrators. A list of key services, based on a technical and economic pre-feasibility study and social impact assessment, has been developed and will be able to be provided through a digital platform. In particular, the example of the concrete development of a use case about public lighting is presented in detail: starting from the identification of the use case to the execution of the installation of 100 intelligent streetlights and 5 test-sites for the monitoring of water consumption up to the visualization of the collected data.
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The topic of smart cities is achieving more and more relevance locally and internationally. Nowadays, hundreds of cities around the globe are giving rise to many initiatives and the concept of smart cities is rapidly gaining a worldwide attention (Bibri et al. 2017). The agenda for smart urban renovation is expected to solve a multiplicity of challenges (Haarstad 2019), with the key aim of significantly increase the urban quality of life. Many cities are developing smart city roadmaps in order to ensure a successful and effective outcome facilitated by a smooth transition. According to the study “The smart City Breakaway 2019”, conducted by the international consultancy company Roland Berger, there are 153 cities in the world that have published an official smart city strategy. Just 15 of them have projects that demonstrate a comprehensive strategic approach and only 8 cities are at an advanced stage of implementation. Among the top three smart cities in the world there are two European capitals i.e. London and Vienna. Considering other sources, it emerges that one third of UK cities with a population over 100.000 people have smart city ambitions, while two-thirds of US cities are investing in some form of smart technology. The national governments of India, China and Singapore are promoting smart cities through competitions, funding programs, policy agendas and pilot projects with support of transnational organizations (e.g. Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe, Bloomberg, Philanthropies) and technology providers (IBM, Cisco, Google). The European Union (EU) has been a particularly strong promoter of smart cities through the European Commission´s Horizon 2020 program on Smart Cities and Communities.

Smart services cover many different areas and should therefore be flexible and able to adapt to the market needs. Considering the different applications and services of a smart city, we can identify the following areas: mobility, school, tourism, government, health. However, areas of intervention can expand as cities are considered 360°. In this wide scenario, most of the methods for becoming “smart” for a city imply the use of a strategic approach (Angelidou 2015). Despite this, a standard approach still needs to be defined and therefore, the ability of smart city initiatives to provide an integrated and systematic answer to urban challenges is constantly questioned (Fernandez-Anez et al. 2018). It appears clear that a holistic approach is still missing if we consider that apparently, a city could be qualified now as “smart” only introducing single, extemporaneous and non-coordinated actions. Therefore, one of the clearest emerging research questions is the following: how should decision makers such as local authorities, small and medium enterprises as well as utility providers, approach the transition towards a smart city? This research work gives a contribution to this issue, providing a methodology for the drawing of an urban agenda in terms of smart city, which is based on a participatory approach.

Another significant aspect is the definition of “smart” itself, that has been in the center of an intense debate for several years. Despite the ongoing discussion, there is no agreed and univocal definition of smart city (Angelidou 2015). In fact, there has been a lot of talk about smart city in recent years, but the term itself is still often used vaguely or inappropriately, sometimes with an exclusively technological focus. From time to time Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions appear as the primary facilitators for the integration of technology in every aspect of the urban environment (Bifulco et al. 2015). However, this identification of “smartness” with “technology” can be highly misleading. Indeed, even if technological solutions are already available, the biggest difficulty in their concrete adoption is about the translation of the available technological solutions in complex and sustainable urban management plans. For this reason, the authors rather assume as a good starting point the definition of smart city given by the “Observatory Smart City” (2018) of ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities). According to it, a smart city is defined as a city which uses ICT tools as an innovative support in the management areas and for the provision of public services, following a strategic vision in an organic way, thanks also to the help of public-private partnerships, to improve the livability for its citizens; a city that uses information from various fields in real time, and exploit both tangible resources (for example transport, energy infrastructures, natural resources) and non-tangible resources (human capital, education and knowledge and intellectual capital of companies); a smart city is able to adapt itself to the needs of users, promoting their own sustainable development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

IoT (Internet of Things): Is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Dashboard: An information management tool that visually tracks, analyzes, and displays key performance indicators (KPI), metrics and key data points to monitor the progress towards a desired outcome. The monitored data are customizable to meet specific needs. Behind the scenes, a dashboard connects to files, services, and APIs, but on the surface displays all data in the form of tables, line charts, bar charts and gauges.

Roadmap: Any plan or guide to show how to progress towards a pre-defined objective.

Use Case: A specific situation in which a product or service could potentially be used.

Design Thinking: A non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

Smart City: A well-defined geographical area, in which high technologies such as ICT, logistic, energy production, and so on, cooperate to create benefits for citizens in terms of wellbeing, inclusion and participation, environmental quality, intelligent development; it is governed by a well-defined pool of subjects, able to state the rules and policy for the city government and development.

Vision: The ability to imagine how something could develop in the future, or the ideas that come from imagining in this way.

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