Access to open data drives Smart City app innovations
An open data platform will help developers create new urban apps that benefit citizens and contribute towards the achievement of Smart Cities.
The EU-funded ICITY project – which was extended last year to run until September 2015 – offers public authorities and innovative urban-focused start-ups everything they need to create apps that boost business, improve public services and attract investment. Although the project is now officially completed, the iCity Platform will continue beyond 2015, helping developers to create innovative services of public interest through the sharing of ideas and information.
The project has created a single point from which to access public information systems from numerous cities, along with app-building guidance and tools. This will facilitate efficient collaboration between cities, organisations and developers, and means that anyone interested in developing urban-focused apps now has easy access to open data from numerous cities.
For example, a recently completed iCity Platform app is ParkFinder from SEAT. The automobile company partnered with developers to produce an app that facilitates parking, by collecting information about free parking spots across the city. Local talent will also find it easier to develop their ideas, as highlighted by a recent project-led competition for locally developed apps in Genoa. A platform integrating different systems to monitor air quality was the winner.
The iCity App portal was launched earlier this year, and contains all the developed apps together with their corresponding download links. There is also information about their developer, functionalities, advantages and indications of the cities where the app is available.
Newly developed apps include one that monitors and scores your recycling and waste management habits, an app that supports people’s mobility in several cities by informing them about possible obstacles and an app for runners in London that provides temperature and wind speed details. There is even an app that allows people to create an inventory of their personal belongings.
The iCity Apps site also contains an Ideas Exchange section where users and developers can share inspiration and see what is going on elsewhere. The project team believes that this will be especially useful for developers looking for new ideas because they can find what kind of services or apps users consider are missing in their cities.
There is also a general website, which offers all reports and information developed through the lifetime of the project. This provides the general public with a user-friendly interface, and makes it easier for developers to access the data and technology they need to build new apps. Since it has been created with end users in mind, the interface is simple and modern. The navigation has been designed to be intuitive, practical and provided with filtering systems that allows the user to focus his or her search.
The pioneering four year project focused on the cities of Genoa, Barcelona, Bologna and London. The guiding principle throughout has been to help make Europe’s cities Intelligent, Integrated, Innovative, Inclusive and Internet-enabled (the so-called five I’s). During the project’s lifetime for example, Genoa City Council integrated into the platform eight information systems along with its own open data portal.