The SELECT for Cities project was conceived as a competition between companies operating in the Smart Cities sector and the Internet of Things (IoT), with the aim of identifying innovative solutions to specific problems in European cities. This is a project that follows the Pre-Commercial Public Purchase (CPP) processes, funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union, whose main objective is the design, development and implementation of digital platforms based on the so-called “Internet of Everything” (IoE) in order to improve the quality of life and services for European citizens.
Pre-Commercial Public Purchase is a particular type of approach to research and development (R&D) services that allows us to compare different technological proposals by reducing the risk associated with the development of an innovation project and which is applied starting from the design and prototyping phase up to the validation of a first version of the products and services. CPPs are therefore an important tool for stimulating innovation as they allow the public sector to direct the realisation of new solutions directly to their needs.
Img 1: SELECT for Cities
The consortium of the SELECT for Cities project (Buyers Group) is formed by Digipolis, a Belgian company that works in the Smart City field operating in the city of Antwerp with the “Antwerp Smart City” project and representing the main supplier; from the Forum Virium of the City of Helsinki, a unit that develops new digital services and urban innovations in cooperation with companies, universities, other public sector organisations and Helsinki residents and holds the role of project manager; and from the city of Copenhagen.
The consortium’s vision is to help in creating connected cities where people, processes, things and data are connected to each other so as to make personal services available on demand, transforming the way people manage and live in urban environments. Unfortunately, the IoE progress has proceeded slowly due to the lack of common standards, a fragmented marketplace, and the lack of ways to systematically test and introduce new solutions in the cities.
The SELECT for Cities competition was born with the aim of seeking new methods, technology and tools to foster open innovation, but the biggest challenge is to find a way to ‘make smart’ the services currently offered by the cities (retrofit) with a modernisation that should proceed from two opposite directions: on the one hand, the cities should work together to agree smart city standards and standards de facto and, on the other hand, it is necessary to imagine approaches that are open to data, licenses, interfaces and participation so as to create robust interoperability.
The competition is open to all European companies who are asked to propose their vision of “cities as linked and large-scale IoE labs“, developing an open, standardised, data-driven, service-oriented and user-centric platform capable of provide IoE applications and services.
The companies that participated in the competition had to pass three phases, in accordance with the Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) processes, before reaching the final Pilot:
- CONCEPT PHASE (PHASE 0): duration until July 2016
During this initial phase, a market consultation was carried out, attended by many companies interested in helping cities and who collaborated, gathering information on the market, including the state of the art and possible future developments.
- DESIGN PHASE (PHASE 1): duration from November 2016 to May 2017
At this stage, the selected companies that have gone through phase 0 have received a budget to develop their idea that could give an answer to the challenge presented. At the end of the phase. the concept and a feasibility study were produced
- PHASE PROTOTYPE (PHASE 2): duration from May 2017 to January 2018
The most promising projects were made in order to produce a working prototype that was then evaluated.
- PILOT PHASE (PHASE 3): duration from February 2018 to February 2019
The selected prototypes were used in a real environment so as to be able to test the functional and technical properties of the solutions presented in order to be able to compare them. At the end of this phase, still in progress, only a limited number of candidates will process the pilot on a larger scale.
Only 3 organisations, CityEnabler , Snap4City and Sofia4cities are currently in Phase 3 of the SELECT for Cities challenge, competing for the prize represented by the great opportunity to test their prototypes in the Living Labs of Antwerp and Helsinki.
Img 2: City Enabler
Img 3: Snap4City
Img 4: Sofia4Cities
Snap4City platforms and solutions are available at Snap4city.org website, where you can register and start exploring its features. But if you want to really challenge your skills and propose your innovative solutions for connected cities, you can join the upcoming Snap4City Hack, the big online hackathon on the topics of Smart City and IoT.
Snap4City launched a big online Hackathon on Ecological Watch, Social and Service Evolution, Stimulating Business Growth, City Aware.
Using Snap4City tools to manage IoT, Big Data and analytics, the hackathon challenges will cover different themes – Ecological Watch, Social and Service Evolution, Stimulating Business Growth, City Aware – and real data from cities such as Helsinki or Antwerp.
Further information on the Hackathon is available on the on Snap4City.org/hackathon website.