The session was led by UTA board member, Hiroaki Nishi, of Keio University. The theme was sustainable development of data-oriented smart cities through public-private partnerships. A key goal of the session was to hear from individual global cities and to share advanced use cases of data-utilizing smart city services and discuss effective and sustainable measures.

  • Keywords Sustainability, Sharing the use cases of data smart city services and concerning infrastructures
  • What is Smart city OS – who manages, who provides data, who monetizes

Oscar Ricardo Macedo Schmeisk: City of Curitiba

Curitiba is a city in southern Brazil, with approx. 2mn inhabitants. It is atypical in Brazil, being at 900m, relatively affluent, and having had Smart city activities since the 1970’s. The most well know is the ground breaking Bus Rapid Transport system developed in the 70s and copied around the world. Other notable firsts are Urban planning that aligns parks around the main river to act as buffers for flooding, and an innovative recycling program that encouraged citizens in poorer areas to bring sorted recycling which was exchanged for fruit and vegetables. The city is currently working on two major projects:

  • Piloting Personal Mobility Service – this is novel in that it seeks the highest level of integration, level 4 integration, which incorporates policy goals into the overall service design.
  • Hypervisor – a fully integrated city OS that integrates info systems and control centres – based on a digital twin (integrates GIS, BIM and CIM) and targeted at urban planning, resilience and city operations

Michael Postranecky: City of Pilsen

Pilsen is a mid sized city in the Czech republic. It has approx. 200k inhabitants and is transitioning from heavy industry (steel, trains, nuclear etc) developed during the 1950s to precision engineering since 2010 such as automotive, electrical and mechatronics.

The city identifies 6 sectors of Smart City activities: Mobility, Smart Living, clean environment, Smart economy, Smart People and Smart Govt, all built around a digital twin strategy. In particular:

  • Smart mobility. This city has a comprehensive strategy that used Digital Twin and IoT technologies to provide real-time monitoring and visualization of city traffic. This is tied into a digital metro card that allows for dynamic transport control – adapting public transport to real-time needs.
  • Smart Living. The city exploits its Digital twin and has incorporated drones for several services including rescue and security,  infrastructure inspection all with a focus on safety and resilience. Starting to use AI for predictive maintenance
  • Clean environment: Copernicus satellite images and IoT data and now fed to the city digital twin. Citizens can also report environmental issues

Hideyuki Nakayama – City of Tsukuba

Tsukuba was developed in the 1960s and 70s as a new city with a focus on science and technology. Inaugurated as a science city in the 1980s, it has approx. 250k inhabitants, 20k engaged in research, 8k with PhDs and 10k foreign residents. Its tag line is “Exploring tomorrow, Tsukuba”

Like all cities it is addressing issues such as climate degradation, an ageing population and increasing social costs. It has a number of initiatives as part of a larger smart city strategy. These include:

  • online voting. Since an ageing population may have difficulty physically voting, Tsukuba has trialed, since 2018, online voting making it easier for older residents to vote.
  • digitalising health management at schools (covid)  – gather data electronically
  • mobility robots, using drones and wheeled robots for parcel delivery
  • Challenge: Transition from pilots to real world usage

To address this challenge, Tsukuba has been developing a comprehensive strategy to develop a Strategic Special Zone known as ‘super city’ – ‘leave no one behind’ which will allow it to experiment with new technologies and services including

  • Mobility, govt, health/welfare, safety/resilience, digital twin, open hub
  • Strategic special zone
  • Co-creation with residents

Hiroyuki Ogawa  – City of Saitama

Saitama has been focused on Data driven smart city activities since 2009. Starting with a  focus on decarbonization, mobility, energy and smart building including the e-Kizuna initiative. After the 2011 earthquake Saitama expanded the vision to focus on a broader set of issues including health, community and resilience. Data is the underlying ‘glue’ for all these activities.

Acting as a showcase and testbed for these initiatives is the Misono area of Saitama, a new city district development. It is 30mins by high speed train from Tokyo – has significant new infrastructure, e.g. the Saitama Stadium and in contrast to many parts of Japan has a growing population with many young families.

A central part of the Smart city mission is the Misono Urban Design Centre – UDCMi which is leading the roll out of new services and works to engage citizens for example by the Misono town management association, a stakeholder group for the new district.

Misono is a use case for ‘Data Driven Smart Cities’ and leverages a Smart City Operating System, known as the Saitama data integration platform built according to the Japanese govt Smart City Reference Architecture. The program has a strong focus on data security – necessary for trust building. They would like to make their platform available to other cities and are interested in sharing experiences and know-how.

An example project, started in 2019, is the Misono data Mirai project. The project aims to improve the well-being of citizens and engages with citizens to gather data, primarily around health, e.g. diet, exercise data. It offers advice, and provide rewards to encourage health lifestyles.

Experiences from the project highlights four key issues for promoting the Saitama platform: collecting data (formats but also trust), leadership and promotion, utilisation (use cases, service models), monetization (data value, operations etc). They are keen to address these issues through collaboration with other cities.

Michiteru Kashiwagi – Softbank

Softbank finished the presentations with an overview of its activities and highlighted some large scale issues for Japan including loss of competitiveness, ageing population, increasing spending on social care which reduces spending on infrastructure. As a company they have a wide range of services that work with local government, including the smart city OS a generic data collection platform. This uses Softbank mobile devices (phones) but also the Line messaging service, Yahoo and Softbank’s payment service – Paypay.

Softbank are involved in a large number of smart city services across Japan, highlighting:

  • MaaS – active in a number of Japanese cities, e.g. Tomioka, Sakai for transporting people, Hiroshima, Nagano for transport service
    • Hello Cycling – bike sharing service, 200 municipalities, 3600 bike stations
  • They are actively involved in Misono City OS – with a focus on dynamic data and personal data which is higher value

In the discussion session afterwards, several issues were raised:

  • Who manages smart city data and how to monetize?
    • In response to this question, there was discussion around open data, the role of cities in ‘seeding’ smart city services and open data, and the role of Public Private Initiatives (PPI) to transition from public sector trials to private sector services.
    • Value is created when data is combined and analysed. There is an opportunity for private companies to create value from public data and monetise that value.
  • Hos are new initiatives funded and what is the effective and efficient way for smart city data operations?
    • Some cities have budget for initiatives, but it is small scale. Often access national or international funding, e.g. EU Horizon funding, Japanese Digital Garden Nation fund
    • Need to strike a balance between public and private data – private citizen data should be managed by the public sector to maintain trust.
    • At the first stage, it will require a vertical start-up funded by national and local government budgets, but it should quickly shift to a system that operates fairly through a consortium of companies, which can break the barriers between cities, and through profits earned by itself. This is also important from the perspective of sustainability.
    • The time required for this shift will vary among local, national, and regional governments, but it should be accomplished more easily through know-how sharing and collaboration.

You can view the full video of the session here