OASC: Open and Agile Smart Cities

Cities are inherently generators of large amounts of data. These data represent their economic functioning, their social dynamics and the uses and behaviours of citizens. They are an useful tool for the management of the city itself, as their analysis allows the local administrator to direct their choices and implement administrative policies on the basis of needs not directly visible except through these data.

Alongside the local administrator, even the ordinary citizen benefits from the open access to the city's data. Information such as the location of schools or kindergartens, public transport lines, parks, shops and clinics are always taken into account when buying a house or deciding to move from one area of the city to another when the needs of the family change.

In this sense, open data represents a service for citizens, although often not directly interpretable. A new class of services for citizens based on the elaboration and visualization of OpenData is growing rapidly in recent years. For example, smartphone applications that let you verify the traffic status along the roads you normally travel, calculate fast routes based on this information, or even know when a public transport will pass, or where to go to find free parking.

The services directly derived from the analisys of open data are both an important tool for citizens and a source of profit for the developers. Of course the more open data you provide, the more users you reach, and therefore the largest the potential profit. In this case, therefore, we are talking about a 'market for services' for smart cities, i.e. cities equipped with open data sources that provide citizens with new types of services.

This market is therefore the larger the catchment area to which the services are directed, and the more data and types of access there are. A service developed on the data of a single city, however large, will have as a catchment area of users and therefore potential customers, only the population of that city. If, however, the service could also access data from other cities, the catchment area would be greater and with it the commercial opportunities to connect.

The first OASC workshop of the Italian cities

The Open and Agile Smart Cities Initiative, OASC, is an initiative promoted by several cities in different countries around the world with the aim of creating a vast and unique market of services for Smart Cities based on OpenData. Founded in January 2015, the OASC currently sees 117 member cities in 24 countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific with steady growth. At the invitation of the CRS4 as a member of the Big Data Value Association of which OASC is an initiative, the Municipality of Cagliari joined the OASC with the second group of cities, signing the Document of Intent already in September 2015. Other Italian member cities are Ancona, Genoa, Lecce, Messina, Milan, Palermo and Terni. Confirming the importance of the OASC initiative in Italy, the first OASC meeting of Italian cities was held in Milan on 4 April 2017. On that occasion, the City of Milan was elected as Italy's national representative to the OASC Task Force. At the meeting the Municipality of Cagliari was represented by Riccardo Castrignano, Director of the Technological Innovation and Information Systems Service, with the CRS4, in his role as scientific/technological advisor on OASC for the Municipality of Cagliari represented by Gianluigi Zanetti.[1][2]

What tools does OASC use to create a global market for Smart Cities services?

The OASC advises cities to adopt four simple mechanisms as de facto standards:

  • a driven-by-implementation approach, i.e. collaboration between communities, administrations and developers in the creation of services;
  • Standard APIs;
  • a set of data templates;
  • a platform for open data.

With regard to the API and the OpenData platform, OASC has decided to adopt what has been developed within the FIWARE ecosystem. In particular, OASC has decided to adopt the FIWARE NGSI APIs.

These are a set of standard, open, royalty-free APIs for managing contextualized information about what happens in a city.

With regard to the OpenData platform, the OpenData portal of the FIWARE CKAN ecosystem was chosen as an open, flexible and easily deployable tool. CKAN is also already integrated and extended as part of FIWARE's reference architecture.

Since the NGSI APIs are agnostic of the data model, the data models adopted by OASC are initially based on the results obtained by the CitySDK project. However, further corrections and extensions of this model are also planned in the future on the basis of feedback from current use or experiments.

OASC and the TDM project

The TDM project is a research project that will focus on designing, developing and testing innovative solutions on an urban/metropolitan scale, identifying promising and scalable solutions, and disseminating results and knowledge. 

In this perspective, the achievement of the objectives of the TDM also sees the collaboration of the Municipality of Cagliari, which has joined the OASC initiative. The technological part concerning the Open Data and the 'Smart Cities' aspects of the TDM project will be developed according to OASC guidelines, and will therefore provide an example of best-practice that can provide useful indications for large-scale implementations by public administrations.

In particular, the TDM project adopts the FIWARE platform for all the components of the architecture concerning the 'IoT', the management of remote devices, the management of data from the logical point of view and the publication of the OpenData related to the results of scientific elaborations.

For the representation of the information, the TDM has chosen to adopt, where possible, the harmonized data models suggested by the Fiware platform, while where a particular type of data does not have a corresponding harmonized model, this will be studied and created in such a way that it can then be submitted to the approval of the Fiware Foundation for adoption as standard. This represents a type of contribution that the TDM makes towards FIWARE, made possible and facilitated in particular by the adhesion of the CRS4 to the FIWARE Foundation, the body that coordinates the development and diffusion of the FIWARE platform, as an associate member and therefore an active participant in the technical tables.

As far as the infrastructure is concerned, the TDM adopts, again according to the indications of OASC, standard components of the FIWARE platform, such as, for example, the ORION Context Broker, recently selected by the European Commission as one of the reference components for the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility), and the CKAN OpenData portal, also adopted by the European Commission and by many other public administrations, as a tool for the publication of open data.

References:

[1] http://sharingcities.eu/sharingcities/news/Sharing-Cities-at-Design-Week-2017-in-Milan-WSWE-ALYBPE

[2] http://www.milanosmartcity.org/joomla/images/locandinaprogrammaoasc_4aprile.pdf

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