How to negotiate IoT into a political reality
One third of all cars at any given moment in the city is searching for parking in the center. Yet car sharing is not immediately an option for most people. It has to meet certain standards and be convenient. The negatives of too many cars are obvious: pollution, traffic jams, congestion of public transport as well. Currently the time tables on the busses do not yet show real-time waiting minutes. Yet, as one third of all cars in the city are looking for a parking spot sharing information about parking spaces in real time would help to solve the parking problem, needless fuel consumption and traffic jams.
In mapping the stakeholders we see who is involved: citizens, commuters, city council, city planning; maintenance, public transport, pedestrian, city bike renting bikes, parking services, traffic police, and taxi drivers. The main issue is on routing and timing. It takes places mainly in the city center but also the problem is seen to be spreading out over the city. The problem is worse during the morning (parents drive their children to school), in the weekend and during the rains. We have different groups of people who are faced with the issue because of different reasons. It seems that what they need is some kind of city dashboard that shows them open spaces, traffic congestions, planned maintenance, potential upload of alerts (fix my street) that pushes notifications to smartphone apps (or wearables), on hyper-local climate, hyper-local news for individuals and groups (for example parents allow their children to bike to school through traffic free zones during the morning, escorted by students) offering citizens information on the best time to leave the home, which route to take, which people are taking the same route at the same time (potential car-sharing) and what type of weather is expected throughout the day. Interesting scenarios evolve around microclimate; is it possible to predict hyper-local weather and thus steer biking, walking and bus routes?
One of the key elements that runs as a thread through the ideas in the first IoT and Smart City workshops that we held in Novi Sad and Santander as part of the EU project Sociotal.eu was the notion of exchange and facilitating exchange. It built on the fix my street and smart gardening where the idea is that incentives drive behaviour: “As the area gets cleaner, all the people in the street benefit. As you have helped to make the street cleaner or water the plants you feel more part of the process, you get a feeling of self-satisfaction and maybe a feeling of ownership, like in I did that! This feeling of ‘pride’ and being recognized for having done what you did in the street can give more motivation then money. And from these small steps we have to work on the mentality change that is needed. Positive feedback is essential for everybody in the process to stimulate self-organization and a sense of community.”
It was therefore decided that further work in Novi sad will be around this exchange platform with key stakeholders in that case; the building janitors and selected occupants, building management professionals, (chosen by the inhabitants) presidents of apartment blocks, maintenance professionals, and a representative of DUNAVNET, developers partnering in Sociotal.eu
Janitors and building managers are pragmatic and solution oriented people. They quickly decided to focus not on community issues around the houses and in the neighborhood but on internal question in the building management. A recent law stipulates that every building has a chosen president. In the meeting we learned that some presidents want to professionalize more in what they do and service more buildings. Could SOCIOTAL assist them and build incentivizing mechanisms for different stakeholders to facilitate this?
Inside the building a number of issues can be investigated: flat roofs leaking water, fire security not up to date, sewage and heating systems, security, the noise of different life-rhythms in community spaces, the community police not being taken seriously, and the issue of the maintenance of the elevators. The participants decided on the latter as the key issue:
- a new law requires certification but there are only three institutions who are able to do this. Remote management would be a huge time gain as now the permits take very long and the elevator can not function without the certificate
- every elevator has its own closed software system. There is no back up of its history, only a maintenance book that could be anywhere in the bulding and is a single copy that could get lost
- quality control could be ensured by monitoring the elevator
- monitoring the elevator could also give insight into its use
The notion of a passport for the elevator was proposed (which could be extended to ‘heating’, ‘boiler’…) which could be triggered on a smartphone through RFID or NFC or a QR code. It would link to a webpage where data can be added and stored by different stakeholders: the owner, the companies, the building manager, the maintenance and the inhabitants of the building. It could also be read by the certification authorities that what need less on sight inspections. Such a system will bring transparency to the entire value model.
In these co-creation workshops that were done with Nathalie Stembert (http://stembertdesign.com/#subnav) it became clear that a key prerequisite for a smart city supported by citizens is transparency of the data and information flows for all the stakeholders involved. In the context of SOCIOTAL.eu this means in this case:
- an ecology of enablers: RFID, NFC, QR codes, barcodes
- a policy ecology of regulations (local, national and EU) on elevators
- developer communities that will be invited to participate in the SOCIOTAL toolkit and professional communities that SOCIOTAL provides incentivizing mechanisms for (in this case the Novi Sad building community) for further professionalization in becoming a Stakeholder Coordinator in IoT
- citizens that are invited to co-create scenarios that are meaningful to them, in this case by giving input to and receiving better services