A supportive ecosystem to foster smart city innovation
What makes the City of Things unique is our strong network of partners, including companies, research centers and local governments. Together we’ve managed to create the ideal ecosystem and support network to drive smart city innovation.
By joining one of our research tracks (e.g., on passer-by-scanners, behavior change or digital signage, among others), you will be able to work together with fellow industry partners and research experts – both from imec and other research institutions. You will be an active contributor to advancing the state-of-the-art of smart city innovation, while leveraging this unique combination of knowledge and expertise to accelerate the development of your own product.
We can also offer practical support. For instance, we can help you with setting up a business model, pitching your technology, finding funding, writing business proposals, addressing potential privacy concerns, or deciding on the right go-to-market approach.
Understanding your clients’ needs
City of Things is about more than just technology. Imec’s living labs team helps you to ensure that your product or service is tailored to your clients’ needs. With our advanced expertise in living lab methodology, we make sure that technological developments reflect the vision of those who will be using them – whether they are citizens, businesses, researchers or city officials. All applications developed in the City of Things are co-created, tested and validated by their end-users.
The City of Antwerp as a large-scale living lab
By cooperating with local governments, we are able to create a large-scale testing ground, right at the heart of the city. This so-called ‘Smart Zone’, where a multitude of smart sensors and wireless gateways connect buildings, streets and citizens, is at the core of our program. However, we also support projects located in other areas of the city – the Port of Antwerp, for instance, has grown to become a key testbed.
Our aim is to turn the city of Antwerp into a large-scale living lab that gives all players involved in the smart city scene the opportunity to test and develop their products or services, from hardware sensor providers to data visualization platforms and app developers. We want to cater to the needs of all smart city innovators.
Leveraging our technological expertise
On a technology-level, we have set up a robust network and data platform to enable the advancement of the Internet of Things. We have brought together a heterogeneous network - based on different protocols and communication standards (e.g. Zigbee, WiFi, Cellular, LoRa, SigFox, NB-IoT, etc.) – to support the sensors, gateways and actuators installed across the city. The data collected in this way is then transferred to a technology-neutral framework for data storage and analysis that offers an extensive set of tools for converting data into real knowledge.
Open access to a vast amount of real-time data
Within the City of Things program, we collect and store a wide range of data on city parameters such as traffic flows, energy consumption, air quality, noise, etc.
As we believe that a smart city is also an open and transparent city, we want to provide open access to these data. This results in a platform that provides a wealth of information and relevant feedback to enhance your products and services.
Securing the Internet of Things
Collecting and sharing large amounts of open data also comes with challenges. One issue commonly associated with the Internet of Things is privacy and ethics. Within the City of Things initiative, imec put together a special team exclusively dedicated to addressing privacy and ethics concerns:
- On a data level, the team aims at achieving the fragile balance between respecting users’ privacy – through data anonymization or by clustering data into user groups instead of individuals – and ensuring that the information that is gathered doesn’t lose its accuracy, thus becoming ineffective. The group also includes legal experts that counsel the City of Things stakeholders and work towards adapting the current regulations and policies to meet the needs of the Internet of Things.
- On a hardware level, our group of experts is also investigating how to make sensors and smart devices hack-proof in a sustainable, cost-efficient way.
Join the ultimate network for smart city innovation and technology
The City of Things – a collaboration between imec, the City of Antwerp and the Flemish Region – aims to create a large-scale living lab where businesses can test and develop their smart city applications, products and services. In addition to this unique testing ground, we also offer a wide range of expertise in smart city applications and business innovation.
Are you a pioneer in smart city innovation? Join our network of partners!
Contact Nik van den Wijngaert (Business Development Manager City of Things)