Measuring urban innovation

SmartCityExpoBCN19NovOn 19th, November 2015, we spoke at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona about the slippery subject of applying KPIs to measure urban innovation.

Somebody said: “What can’t be measured, probably does not exist”. He or she was probably an engineer, like most of our audience. But take for instance love and wrath, hunger or joy, selfishness or cooperation. Those concepts do exist, are as real as us, humans, and they will probably escape from the engineers’ measurement capabilities still for a long time. Sigue leyendo

Questions for a new generation of city scientists

MCSOn 28th, October 2015 we were honored to lecture at the opening session of 2015-2016 edition of the Master of City Sciences at Politechnic University of Madrid, sharing our latest thoughts and experiencies on urban innovation with students and staff.

Everything starts by Jaime Lerner’s statement about cities as the great solution, fostering progress in the fields of economics, sustainability, quality of life, and innovation.

The desire to climb up the prosperity ladder has been the main driving force that keeps attracting people to cities. That only means that cities have always been perceived as extremely ‘valuable’ by people. Now… can we aspire to quantify the value of cities? In the lecture, we presented several works by prominent city scientists, as well as subsequent laws that cast some light into this question, and then move to another important subject: how can we reconfigure cities to maximize that value? Sigue leyendo

Una de plataformas SMART (2/2). Un menú variado

Viene de: “Una de plataformas SMART (1/2)”

Un menú variado de plataformas Smart

Detrás de cada plataforma Smart hay, como poco, una gran empresa tecnológica. Algunas de ellas han sido impulsadas desde el ámbito público, bien sea a través de mecanismos de financiación europeos o bien como apuesta específica. Otras son el resultado del esfuerzo de grandes compañías en el desarrollo de sistemas inteligentes de gestión de operaciones. Entre las primeras podemos destacar FIWARE, Sofia y CityOS. Entre las segundas Wonderware-Schneider o Intelligent Operations Center-IBM.

Tanto FIWARE como Sofia han sido financiados por la Unión Europea. FIWARE a través del proyecto “Future Internet PPP” del pasado 7FP en el que TELEFÓNICA tuvo un papel preponderante. Sofia a partir de un ARTEMIS en el que participaron INDRA y ACCIONA. A día de hoy, Valencia es el escaparate de FIWARE, La Coruña el de Sofia y Zaragoza el de Wonderware. Sigue leyendo

Designing the Hubble of cities


‘Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science’

Edwin P. Hubble

Cities are one of the most complex ecosystems in nature, one of the closest to us, humans, and one of the least understood. The different urban disciplines (architecture, urban planning, social sciences, traffic engineering, telecommunications, urban economics…) have been traditionally devoted to study the city as a collection of either physical objects or human livings.

It was Jane Jacobs who first pointed out the misalignments derived from the ‘narrowness’ of these approach, providing a broader understanding of the relationships that govern the mutual feedback between humans and objects in cities. A public space entomologist like Jan Gehl followed and performed sound observations about interactions between people and ‘physicalities in cities’. Gehl’s empirical discovery ‘first life, then spaces, then buildings’ anticipates the thought that places are a result of interactions, and not the opposite. Manuel Castells introduced the concept of flows as a governing phenomena to study thoroughly for a better understanding of cities. His influential socio-economic perspective of the city-verse as a ‘space of flows’ is at the basis of the new science of cities that contemporary pioneers like the geographer Michael Batty is trying to build. Sigue leyendo

Sharing big data: the next frontier in civic innovation

SharedSpaceIn an era of increasing urban concentration, the multiple risks that our society faces at the environmental, social or economic spheres can be better addressed by adopting innovative and well-informed urban policies. Those policies can not ignore the potential offered by the set of processes and technologies grouped under the generic ‘big data’ buzz-word.

If we take an historical angle, after the ‘big bang’ explosion of data, the new ‘dataverse’ is experiencing a quick inflationary phase. An inflationary expansion that is everything but homogeneous. Clearly, Internet businesses are leading the way fueled, first, by the inherent use of big data related technologies, some of which are even powering the development of the general concept of big data itself, and, second, by the highly competitive and innovative markets in which those companies operate.

However, the use of big data that those Internet giants make is only serving the purposes of their internal business development. In some cases, those companies are disrupting local economies in areas such as transportation or accommodation while bypassing local regulations. Über is a good example of a new paradox. The serious blow that they afflict to the community of local cab drivers not only affects self-employment in the city but also leads to a reduction in the overall local tax collection. To aggravate the bleeding, their systems may very well use, for instance, the data about road outages that the city hall releases in open data formats for routing optimization purposes, while the company locks the vast amount of valuable information gathered through their daily trips around the city. Sigue leyendo