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Enabling a Mobility Back-End as a Robust Service

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EMBERS (Enabling a Mobility Back-End as a Robust Service)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-11-30

The EMBERS consortium achieved project’s core objective, which was to prepare the smart city mobility platform (MBaaS) for market. Notably, we produced three demonstrators: applications that make use of the MBaaS in order to solve specific smart city mobility challenges. In close collaboration with the municipalities of Cologne, Porto and Trikala, we defined concrete urban mobility challenges that could be solved with the help of the MBaaS, allowing these partner cities to integrate relevant data sources into the platform and to make the mobility data available for innovative solutions to these problems.
Sorbonne Université (SU), through the EMBERS open call, identified three SMEs (Bitmaker, Gridnet, Bike Citizens) to take on these mobility challenges, each of them implementing a mobile and/or web application built upon the MBaaS. These solutions now serve as a powerful showcase of the MBaaS’s capabilities.
In addition, SU also developed an additional demonstrator, a web-based demo dashboard, that employs the full capabilities of the EMBERS MBaaS, and provides a template implementation for future developers.
SU in collaboration with Ubiwhere also implemented a CKAN catalog, an openly available catalog that provides an easy overview of the available resources on the MBaaS backend, making visible the totality of integrated data sources from contributing cities, as well as experiment results, and the data available from open data portals.
Both the CKAN catalog as well as the web-based demo dashboard are available online, and accessible for users to use. Improved API documentation for developers as well as useful SDKs are available on the project’s website.
In parallel, Ubiwhere pushed forward other pilots and trials with cities and city service providers, and delivered concrete success stories of MBaaS deployments in real world environments.
The key event of the EMBERS project was the open call. As its result, the collaboration with three SMEs, namely, Bitmaker (Porto), Gridnet (Trikala), and Bike Citizens (Graz), accompanied by increased dissemination efforts, greatly increased the visibility of EMBERS and its MBaaS. EMBERS reached a great variety of domains and target groups (citizens, city representatives, developers, companies, etc.). In Cologne, a campaign was launched over a period of 6 weeks that allowed access of the developed demonstrator to the public, putting the MBaaS to a prominent test.
From a technical standpoint internal to the project, the open call, the development of the demonstrators and the campaign also challenged and improved the backend in different ways. Ubiwhere was able to make major technical improvements to its backend, and even provide new capabilities, such as Open511, that had not been envisioned prior the open call. By confronting the demands on the backend of the demonstrators’ requirements and having to integrate into the backend mobility data from a number of new types of data sources, Ubiwhere has become better prepared to meet future challenges.
The main technical accomplishments are to continue the experimentations, to improve the backend API, the security aspects and internal architectural design. The MBaaS successfully integrated new proprietary data sources which improved their capabilities on data integration efforts. Using CKAN and Cygnus technology for creating an open data catalog that efficiently interoperates with the MBaaS backend, as well as the extension of the MBaaS API with Open511 capabilities that were not foreseen before the open call.
We also developed our communications, making our activities known through our website, social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), and through meetings with all city partners in order to discuss, collaborate and finally demonstrate the envisioned mobility solution. We also participated in a large number of events, during which EMBERS and its demonstrators were promoted.
At the end of the EMBERS project we clearly see its positive impact, on the side of the participating municipalities, the subcontracted SMEs, as well as the MBaaS backend itself. The APIs have been published and were open and available already for the activities around the hackathon and the app challenges. Within the frame of the open call, concrete mobility data from our partnering cities have been integrated into the backend, harmonized, and made available for the use. Over the course of the open call, the development phase of the demonstrators and during live demonstrations, the MBaaS was challenged and its capabilities and robustness constantly improved. Collaborating with the municipalities and the SMEs that actively made use of the MBaaS has proven to be a precious source of inspiration and an indispensable way to gather new suggestions for improvements that would help to meet their needs and to better prepare the MBaaS for the market.

The impact on SMEs that approach the MBaaS in the future involves: (1) making available to them access to mobility data and services provided by the dedicated city service providers that otherwise would have been very difficult, if at all, to access, (2) removing all the complexity of the work of integrating such mobility data with different standards and protocols into a system, and (3) allowing easy access to that data which helps the SME to focus right away to the solution itself, and to efficiently develop a prototype solution. For the SMEs that participated in the open call, the impact was: (1) collaborating with a municipality directly, contributing to a real challenge and to establish a working relationship that might lead to future collaboration or projects, and (2) exploring a new domain (such as Smart Parking, Parking Analytics, or Smart Bicycle Traffic Management), allowing them to expand their existing business portfolios.

Follow-up collaborations with Ubiwhere and each municipality are anticipated and currently in progress.

The impact on the side of the cities that participated in the open call is that they have integrated into the backend their mobility data (parking, cycling, open data portals, etc.) and other mobility-related services (route planning, payment, etc.) which are now made available to innovative developers or startups who can potentially create new smart services from it. This puts control back in the hands of the cities over their data and services. The data and services would have been otherwise very difficult to access, even for the cities themselves. Furthermore, the demonstrators allowed the city representatives an insight into a new services for their citizens and to explore possibilities of new solutions that are based on the MBaaS.

The impact of the project on the MBaaS backend itself has been evident. The MBaaS successfully integrated with both open and proprietary systems. New integration steps were automated and can now work either with sensors or other systems. A new single entrypoint for developers was created making it easier for them to access. A new metrics system was developed to understand the usage of APIs. Security and privacy policies have been improved. Newly integrated use cases (off-street parking, on-street parking, cycling traffic) are integrated. New services were successfully added to the MBaaS, such as the one of an Open511 server that was not foreseen before the open call.
Logo of EMBERS