connected cities

The Observant City and Self

"Within a 40 min time span, I checked out a bike from the Bicing network using my member card, I rolled over a loop detector, I accessed a coffee shop WiFi network, a cashier swiped my fidelity card, I checked in Foursquare and access Google Maps on my mobile phone, as I am moving, two mobile network antennas produced a hand-over of my communication, I acquired a product with an RFID attached to it, I pass nearby Bluetooth scanners deployed to measure the traffic at La Rambla, I checked back in my bike, I appeared in a photo taken by a tourist at Plaza Catalunya, later uploaded to Picassa and finally, I use a T-10 ticket to access the subway system." -- Fabien Girardin 

What a world we live in.  We’ve created all this technology to observe the city, and yet it is us who are observed. Entire cities are being constructed on the premise of observation – an idea that with systematic data collection, we can tease out the important information to make our cities run more efficiently and our lives more convenient.

But what exactly is that data? It’s not the city’s data so much as it is our own. Not the efficiency of the pipes but how much water we use. Not the congestion on the streets but how much we drive. The sensors of “smart” cities are like the computers in our cars: sensors designed to measure, in real time, everything that comes in and goes out of the system. And ultimately it is us who are responsible for the myriad inflows and outflows.

Of course, smarter cities have the potential to increase dramatically our level of understanding of human interaction and production. There are huge benefits, no doubt. And at the same time, an opinion piece in the New York Times this morning reminds us that temporarily pulling away from the vast array of information available to us today is perhaps the most essential of actions to processing it.

As we head into 2012, I’m reminding myself of the importance of balance. As we speed forward toward smart and connected cities as a civilization, individually we must take rest stops on the information superhighway – lest we mistake the data trees for the information forest. The information that truly brings efficiency and convenience to our lives.

-          Terra Curtis

 

 

 

Call for Contributions to Business Guide on Innovative Public Procurement

Living Labs Global has been invited by euroPROC, a European Consortium gathering 10 European Regions (funded by European Regional Development Funds - Interreg IVC), to author & edit a guidebook for small- and medium-sized businesses on the business opportunities and strategic issues around new trends in Public Procurement. The Guidebook is to be published in digital and paper form in June 2011 and will be a highly relevant document for companies across the EU and beyond interested in entering and navigating new markets with innovative solutions. Public Procurement in the EU amounts to 16% of GDP, or EUR 1,889,394,720,000, and constitutes a significant market for innovative services and products, especially if procurement policies are clearly designed to consider sustainability and innovation measures. In Europe as in other global regions like the US and China, innovation in public procurement is supported by active policies to stimulate uptake of new technologies, higher quality services at reduced costs, and environmental and social impacts. Mechanisms that can unfold innovation, such as pre-commercial procurement or applying green measures to procurement are rarely understood by smaller businesses, that could benefit most from new processes.

Hence, the guidebook will focus on four great themes of policy that represent market opportunities for innovative companies:

-         Innovative Public Procurement and Lead-Market Policies

-          Green Public Procurement

-          Socially Responsible and Considerate Public Procurement

-          Electronic Procurement

We are issuing this call for contributions to make sure the Guidebook reflects the best possible insights from both government agencies (national, regional, local); businesses and professional expertise. Already high-profile government and business leaders have pledged their interest and availability.

Like our "Connected Cities: Your 256 Billion Euro Dividend" Handbook on Service Innovation in Cities, the new guidebook will apply a combination of highest quality design provided by Barcelona's Base Design with our insights into the issues that press SME's in entering public procurement markets with innovative products. We are aiming to provide our community with a valuable tool to assure that their innovations reach new markets.

If you are interested in making a contribution through pointing us to interesting cases, statistics, failures or success stories; share your opinion; or provide access to references please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss details or reply to this post.

We are committed to credit contributors, but respect also the interest by individuals to remain anonymous. Contributors will be invited to review the draft of chapters in the beginning of March 2011.

Call for Contributions to Business Guide on Innovative Public Procurement

Living Labs Global has been invited by euroPROC, a European Consortium gathering 10 European Regions (funded by European Regional Development Funds - Interreg IVC), to author & edit a guidebook for small- and medium-sized businesses on the business opportunities and strategic issues around new trends in Public Procurement. The Guidebook is to be published in digital and paper form in June 2011 and will be a highly relevant document for companies across the EU and beyond interested in entering and navigating new markets with innovative solutions. Public Procurement in the EU amounts to 16% of GDP, or EUR 1,889,394,720,000, and constitutes a significant market for innovative services and products, especially if procurement policies are clearly designed to consider sustainability and innovation measures. In Europe as in other global regions like the US and China, innovation in public procurement is supported by active policies to stimulate uptake of new technologies, higher quality services at reduced costs, and environmental and social impacts. Mechanisms that can unfold innovation, such as pre-commercial procurement or applying green measures to procurement are rarely understood by smaller businesses, that could benefit most from new processes.

Hence, the guidebook will focus on four great themes of policy that represent market opportunities for innovative companies:

-         Innovative Public Procurement and Lead-Market Policies

-          Green Public Procurement

-          Socially Responsible and Considerate Public Procurement

-          Electronic Procurement

We are issuing this call for contributions to make sure the Guidebook reflects the best possible insights from both government agencies (national, regional, local); businesses and professional expertise. Already high-profile government and business leaders have pledged their interest and availability.

Like our "Connected Cities: Your 256 Billion Euro Dividend" Handbook on Service Innovation in Cities, the new guidebook will apply a combination of highest quality design provided by Barcelona's Base Design with our insights into the issues that press SME's in entering public procurement markets with innovative products. We are aiming to provide our community with a valuable tool to assure that their innovations reach new markets.

If you are interested in making a contribution through pointing us to interesting cases, statistics, failures or success stories; share your opinion; or provide access to references please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss details or reply to this post.

We are committed to credit contributors, but respect also the interest by individuals to remain anonymous. Contributors will be invited to review the draft of chapters in the beginning of March 2011.

Estimating Value of Biking

Bicycling WisconsinAn interesting study was just released in Wisconsin that estimates the value, in dollars, of bicycling in the state.  Skimming it brought to mind Living Labs Global’s own study, Connected Cities, which quantifies the opportunity, in euros, created by mobile technologies and the need for innovation in city services.  In both cases, a strong set of localized or specific base data are synthesized and estimates are extrapolated from there. In the case of the Wisconsin study, authors from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies focus on recreational, long distance, and predominantly non-resident cycling as the driver of economic activity from bicycling; in contrast, they focus on shorter-distance trips made by residents (like commuting to work) to quantify the health benefits from cycling.

They find nearly $1 billion economic benefit from recreational cycling in Wisconsin (drawing on expenditures on things like food and beverage, entertainment, lodging, and non-bicycle transportation).  Additionally, they find a nearly $0.5 billion health benefit due to cycling (drawing on improvements in air quality, personal fitness, and greenhouse gas emissions).  Combined, the study suggests the state of Wisconsin alone is experiencing close to a billion and a half dollar benefit from cycling.

While the authors explicitly acknowledge the study’s shortcomings and potential inaccuracies (reliance on older data or data from other geographies), whether the number is $1.5 billion or $700 million doesn’t matter; the point is that there is a huge opportunity for benefits in economic activity and health from cycling.  Enticing or inviting people to change their habits, especially to achieve the health benefits as reported in this study, is one of the biggest challenges for the coming year and decade.  However, local policy changes do stand to make a big difference in the amount of bicycle tourism sought in a particular state – producing an influx of cash from another economy – in addition to benefits to residents’ as more bicycle-friendly policies increase their safety and security.

Studies such as these are interesting and useful to policymakers; I expect to see more like it this year and in the near future.  For more on what to expect from bicycling in 2011, see this nice summary piece from Grist.

-Terra Curtis