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SynchroniCity: Delivering an IoT enabled Digital Single Market for Europe and Beyond

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SynchroniCity (SynchroniCity: Delivering an IoT enabled Digital Single Market for Europe and Beyond)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

SynchroniCity has helped both the cities, communities (demand side) and businesses, including Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (supply side) to overcome the grave chicken-and-egg situation in creating a thriving market in the smart cities and communities domain.

Over a decade, companies, especially big ones, have made the case that public service can be delivered much more efficiently using data-driven solutions, but their offerings were locking buyers, often local authorities, to walled gardens of data sharing where they could not use services from other vendors. Also, it is difficult for smaller companies to take part in this market. On the other hand, cities and communities could not easily, and certainly not individually, formulate terms and technical specifications that would make them willing to buy into these new types of services. Therefore, the market was unattractive also for the companies who had to spend a lot of time on each customer with little scalability in sight.

SynchroniCity has shown how the Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms (MIMs) introduced by the Open & Agile Smart Cities network (OASC) can help unfreeze this market, based on a minimal but sufficient common technical ground for sharing data to deliver AI- and IoT-enabled services based on trust. Such services are essential for Europe to deliver a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.

Specific project objectives included:
1. Establish technical foundations
2. Establish marketplace enablers
3. Create reference zones
4. Pilot services that serve citizen needs
5. Establish ecosystem
6. Establish citizen-oriented methods
7. Establish holistic quantification of value
8. Provide insights into new business models
9. Transform city policy-making and planning
With 50 services delivered across 21 cities in Europe and in South Korea, SynchroniCity has helped local decision makers address the needs of their citizens – e.g. concerning mobility, energy and public participation in local governance – using the full breadth of the market, from local SMEs to big infrastructure companies. All services were rolled out in at least three cities within 6 months, clearly demonstrating the scalability and mainstreaming potential.

All services were piloted in 2 or more cities by 16 pilot groups led by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Due to the common, minimal technical ground, deployment happened fast over a 6-month period, with streamlined contracting and localised data sharing agreements, fully compliant with GDPR and other relevant regulations, in market-realistic conditions.

Both the demand side and the supply side are very positive about the prospects of this kind of service provisioning, streamlining processes from both sides of the market, to the benefit of European citizens. A big reason is that SynchroniCity from the beginning was shaped around a network of cities, the Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) network, with more than 150 members in 27 countries, mainly in the EU. The fact that this essentially very technical focus on minimal interoperability was from the beginning led by the demand side, i.e. the buyers, made the path to adoption very attractive for both cities and companies.

A Guide to SynchroniCity is available, and it shows, in practical terms, how to use the OASC MIMs to provision digital services for cities and communities:
https://oascities.org/a-universal-guide-to-make-your-city-fit-for-the-digital-transformation/
SynchroniCity had significant impact, falling in three categories: locally, on the EU level, and globally. Locally, for each city/community as well as for the companies involved, the impact was broad – as can be expected when the scope was delivering service to citizens across sectors.

On the EU level, the baseline of existing initiatives, such as the Connecting Europe Facility as well as previous work in H2020 projects, provided a very solid baseline and understanding of the barriers for the market to scale.
On this basis, SynchroniCity has successfully laid the foundation for a global market based on real time governance and European values, interoperability and ethical use of data for scaling public and private digital services, equipping cities and communities for the digital transformation, while providing input for European policy and influencing the development of technical architectures globally, such as the Japanese Society 5.0.

The MIMs, as introduced in the attached “Guide to SynchroniCity”, are simple, transparent mechanisms that form the foundation for sustainable, scalable and efficient deployment of AI- and IoT-enabled digital services. They are vendor-neutral and technology-agnostic, and they can be integrated with existing systems. Currently, there are three validated MIMs: Context Information Management, Common Data Models, Marketplace, and two underway as work items: Fair AI and Personal Data Management. As more cities and companies adopt them, the market grows and economies of scale reduce costs for buyers and developers. This breaks down barriers to procurement, also for smaller companies, and allows cities and communities to identify and tackle problems quickly and sustainably, to the benefit for their citizens.

The EU-wide recently announced “Join, Boost, Sustain” political declaration for scaling digital solutions in Europe (http://living-in.eu) has adopted the work from SynchroniCity as the basis. It is an initiative of EUROCITIS, OASC and ENoLL, together with the European Commission (CNECT, REGIO, GROW, DIGIT a.o.) and the European Committee of the Regions.

OASC was recognized by TM Forum, a global association of telecom providers as the most influential body in this space, especially for the work carried out in SynchroniCity, and the standards input to the European and global standards organisations.
OASC was invited, on the basis of the SynchroniCity project, to join the G20 2019 Summit session in Osaka Japan on smart cities to present the work, which led to substantial impact in Japan and globally, and many other initiatives.

In total, SynchroniCity has shown a pathway to harnessing global dynamics to address local needs, heralding a potential new era of services similar to the mobile revolution brought about by simple, European standards.
A guide to SynchroniCity (Cover)
A guide to SynchroniCity (Quote)
SynchroniCity Impact