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Fifth meeting of the MAtchUP project (Skopje, December 2019)

This time the steering meeting of the MAtchUP project has been organized in one of the project’s follower cities, Skopje, capital of North Macedonia.

The organization was a success and the locals welcomed the MAtchUP family warmly, despite the cold weather.

In the plenary sessions, we reviewed the status of the demonstrators of the lighthouse cities: Valencia, Dresden and Antalya. In addition, the people in charge of the Skopje City Council showed us the urban platform they are working on, a mixture of innovative technologies and applications and practical services for citizens.

The parallel sessions addressed specific issues in energy, mobility, ICTs and social actions. The project indicators (KPIs) and how to calculate them were the central theme of the discussion at each of the MAtchUP pillar meetings.

In order to show us the current state of urban services in Skopje, our hosts organized a city tour. We saw the traffic control center, where multiple video cameras constantly monitor intersections and roads, and from where traffic lights can be managed in real time to prioritize firefighters, ambulances and VIPs.

Another of the interesting visits was the Urban Living Lab of Skopje, an endearing place in the Historic City Center, which serves as the basis for urban regeneration, a space for the co-creation of initiatives with and for the citizen.

Later, we also visited a “Green Roof”, a garden on the roof of a building, in this case a shopping center. A thermographic study had been carried out in the city months ago, and it was discovered that there were points with high temperatures, either due to the concentration of pollution or the lack of air circulation. Therefore, they decided to give life to this type of initiatives. The “Green Roofs” are gardens built with the aim of softening the temperature and oxygenate these hot spots of the city, as well as serving as a recreation place for citizens.

We continued with work sessions to identify possible improvements in the procedures, in the generation of business models and in the description of the Technology Packages for Smart Cities (SCTP).

The final note was sung by Mother Teresa, a native of Skopje, reminding us that the most important thing is to enjoy the path:

And for the next plenary meeting in 2020… we will come back to Antalya!

If you want to know more about the project, you can visit the website of MAtchUP.

Valencia MAtchUP: Energy consumption

In Valencia, Spain, researchers have developed an information system to help households to better manage their energy consumption and to use renewable energy sources with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions.

European citizens often have no guidance about good practices to reduce energy consumption in their homes. Researchers from the Instituto Tecnológico de la Energía in Valencia, are working on a system called SHEMS (Smart Home Energy Management System).

It is based on a smartphone app that enables users to monitor their consumption and receive guidance on how to improve energy performance based on good practices.

Caterina Tormo Doménech, one of the researchers involved, explains:

“People also have a scoring system whereby they can compare their consumption habits with other application users on a day-by-day or month-by-month basis. The aim is to raise their awareness about efficient energy use and to get them to change their behaviour.”

Several studies have found that competitive comparison may be a strong incentive besides, of course, the eventuality of reducing the bills.
The app is being developed under the EU smart city project MAtchUP, aimed at fostering a more liveable urban environment.

Watch the video interview with Caterina Tormo Doménech from the MAtchUP partner Instituto Tecnológico de la Energía (ITE).

What AI and machine learning can do for Smart Cities?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms have increasingly become an integral part of several industries. Now they are making their way to smart city initiatives, intending to automate and advance municipal activities and operations at large. Typically, a city when recognized as a smart city means that it is leveraging some kind of internet of things (IoT) and machine learning machinery to glean data from various points.

A smart city has various use cases for AI-driven and IoT-enabled technology, from maintaining a healthier environment to advancing public transport and safety. By leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms, along with IoT, a city can plan for better smart traffic solutions making sure that inhabitants get from one point to another as safely and efficiently as possible. Machine Learning collects data from numerous points and conveys it all to a central server for further implementation and once data is collected, it has to be utilized in making a city smarter.

Solving Urban Issues with AI and Machine Learning

Machine learning generally takes the data generated by several apps such as Health MD applications, internet-enabled cars, etc. and leverages it to identify patterns and learn how to optimize the given set of services. Its tools are able to personalize the smart city experience by aggregating information about the most used roads in a city and then apply it to a transportation system.

On the other hand, machine learning and AI can be helpful in waste collection and its proper management and disposal which is a vital municipal activity in a city. Thus, the technology for smart recycling and waste management provides a sustainable waste management system. AI has the ability to understand how cities are being used and how they are functioning. It assists city planners in comprehending how the city is responding to various changes and initiatives.

In this way, AI-powered computer vision systems, for instance, could enable computers to spot millions of elements of urban life in a chorus, including people, public workers, cars, accidents, fires, disasters, trash and much more. The system allows not only for autonomous monitoring but to make decisions based on the performance of each of these elements, changing behaviors over the course of each day or time, and responses to city systems by each element.

As AI and machine learning are transforming the way cities operate, deliver and maintain public amenities, the technologies come with some drawbacks. Thus, there is a need to consider about retrofitted solutions that can hold the smart city initiatives continuing. So, the current smart city programs using AI and ML seems to advance city services and lives, including transportation, lighting, safety, connectivity, health services, among others.

How to Improve Cybersecurity in a Smart City

The smart city began as a science fiction dream, but it’s very quickly becoming a reality. Municipal infrastructure, integrated with smart technology, will transform the aesthetics, utility, and sustainability of urban landscapes from here on out. 

The scale and complexity of smart cities render them particularly susceptible to cyberattacks. The vast array of interconnected systems makes weak points and oversights almost inevitable, a problem that reliance on unsecured IoT devices and potentially vulnerable cloud networks only compounds. What’s really driving this problem, however, is the overconfident tech visionaries who are boosting smart cities.

 These strategies should be follow to prepare (and protect) any city for the future:

  • Begin Building a Smart Workforce
  • Start Forming Security Partnerships
  • Work Within the Rules

Read more.