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SELECT's Vision

Achieving Smarter Cities

The common challenge of the SELECT for Cities PCP was the design, research, and development of “cities as linked and large-scale IoE labs”. The challenge lied in developing an open, standardized, data-driven, service-oriented and user-centric platform for European cities that enabled large-scale co-creation, testing and validation of urban IoE applications and services. This approach fostered the longer-term goal of evidence-based innovation in cities.


In the international context European cities are well managed, with educated and responsible citizens. Thus, Europe has great potential in the Smart City sector and European cities can become exemplary cases to the world.  However, there is a lack of ecosystem thinking across Europe. Shared European policy making makes it possible to boost wide-scale adoption of new solutions, as the history of for example mobile phone development has proven. This top-down decision-making power should be connected to the power of active user and developer communities in the cities to create a positive feedback loop. (Eskelinen, Serra)


Smart cities are a combination of horizontal data & service platforms and vertical market sectors. The service development for smart cities should also follow the Internet model, harvesting the lateral power of the Web, utilizing wide-scale citizen participation and involvement, distributed value chains, fast prototyping and piloting, and service creation through experimentation. (Eskelinen, Serra, 2012).

To succeed in supporting the urban innovations landscape, cities need to introduce more systematic ways to work with external developers and evaluate new solutions. Current development and testing is mostly done in unorganised, random ways, within existing organisational silos. This practice – or the lack of it - has lots of problems:


  1. Different city departments pilot solutions in an unorganised manner, mostly based on the interests of individual sub-departments or even individuals;

  2. The impact of the pilots are not really measured; good solutions are not taken into use;

  3. Pilots are done in isolation, without checking if other entities in the city might have already existing solutions or similar needs,  or non-compatible services already in use;

  4. The outcomes of pilots are not measured and followed up;

    • Successful pilots don’t lead to wider implementation, and resources are lost;

    • Failed pilots are not analysed and communicated, which creates the danger of repeating same mistakes,

    • Pilots and tests are not road mapped or evaluated from the technology or practice maturity point of views, which leads on one hand to the adaptation of obsolete “sunset technologies”, on the other hand to disappointments when new technologies are introduced to actual services too early.


The biggest challenge is the existing legacies (in ICT, service offering and processes). Cities have to be retrofitted to become smart. Retrofitting requires both top-down and grassroots-up approaches: on one hand, cities should collaborate to agree on smart city standards and de-facto-standards, and on the other hands, they should support open approaches to data, licenses, interfaces and participation to create robust interoperability. Standardization should not slow down the development of the market.


The overarching goal is simple: one-domain and one-city stand-alone and proprietary platforms and solutions are too small-scale, and therefore too expensive to develop and maintain. Therefore, cities must support the creation of the properly functioning smart city marketplace by supporting maximum interoperability of service interfaces and portability of services, solutions and apps internally (across city departments, across the boundaries of private and public urban services), regionally, nationally (in national city networks) and internationally (roaming of services across borders to create the critical mass). Portability of solutions is critical to the success to smart cities and smart city service companies.


The development of urban services is exceedingly a collaboration process, in which the cities act as enablers of innovation in various ways:

  1. Procuring sub-services/solutions from companies, to be integrated in the entity of  urban services which the city offers

  2. Opening the data and service interfaces of cities for private developers to build and run their services

  3. Monitoring the field of urban innovations, and supporting the creation and usage of innovative services developed by the urban community, especially developers and SMEs

  4. Reacting in an agile way to new innovations and opportunities by removing quickly the barriers of innovation created by old regulation and practices.


The envisaged platform has several requirements, components & features that are currently not available in a single solution (nor as interoperable separate components) that allows profound interaction between cities, nor (automated) testing and validation of -related services. Bidders should take into account the design and development of an open platform and its ability to support (externally developed) IoE service components that can be tested and validated in (semi-) automated ways.


Second Internet of Things meetup, notes, Barcelona

The Smart City wheel visualises the multi-domain approach necessary for successful smart cities. (Rudol Gittinger, Boyd Cohen)

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