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Did you say ‘Smart City’?

by OneCustomer Stories02/07/2018

Did you say ‘Smart City’?
The Smart City Live Lab pilot project will enable the City of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve to set out its major challenges with innovative technological solutions. Meeting with David da Câmara Gomes and Alexander Bosmans.

A project like this can’t be run by just two people. Who are the stakeholders revolving around the Smart City Live Lab?

David da Câmara Gomes: “The city is the driving force behind the project. An ecosystem has to be put in place to bring together the various partners taking part in the process of the digitalization and sustainable transformation of the city. Different key players will be involved in each phase of the project. They include the municipal authorities, the police, the inhabitants’ association, ORES, Letsgocity, Be-Mobile and Proximus. Not forgetting the university, UCL, the indispensable and main landowner in the city.”

What does the Smart City Live Lab aim to achieve?

Alexander Bosmans: “In this way, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and Proximus are setting in motion an unprecedented project in order to explore the possibilities and repercussions of the Internet of Things and data analytics, the main aim being to benefit the general public and the city.”

How are the main project stages defined?

David: “Proximus came to us with an innovative approach, suggesting an analysis of the current situation in the city on the one hand and the possibility of making it into a laboratory on the other.”

Alexander: “Our approach is based on the ‘Design Thinking’ methodology which places the users at the center of the analysis and makes it possible to bring out ideas through the collective intelligence.”

David: “Three topics were very soon identified: security & prevention, mobility and energy. This may not be very original, but it’s the result of a thorough examination of dozens of possibilities. Last April, three workshops identified a number of measures for each topic that we now have to develop. The first tests will take place in June.”

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Digitalization will help us to consolidate the finances while creating savings. Although there aren’t any simple solutions to complex problems, tomorrow’s city is nonetheless closer than we think.

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David da Câmara Gomes is the municipal councilor in charge of finance, informatics and administrative simplification, culture, mobility and the public highway.

How will the IoT and data analytics play a major role in security and prevention in Louvain-la-Neuve?

David: “I’m not telling you anything new when I say that what characterizes our city is the university and the many students we have here. For example, we have three types of noise pollution here: scheduled events, private activities and the annoyance caused by (mobile) travel. We have little control over the latter. Avenues are being analyzed to find solutions.”

Alexander: “The idea is to install sound level sensors that inform police patrols in real time about the origin of excessive noise pollution. So this is no longer a reactive approach, but a proactive approach. All we have to do now is analyze these data via our platforms and transmit an accurate interpretation of the information received.”

Mobility is a matter of concern. Which issues would you like to analyze in particular?

David: “In Walloon Brabant, growing urbanization along with high purchasing power and motorization levels are clogging up the roads. Added to that is the fact that Louvain-la-Neuve is a major hub and over 20,000 passengers go through Ottignies station every day…

Alexander: “We will not provide a solution to the phenomenon of the individualization of mobility, but we will bring about a return to fluid traffic. By measuring and geo-locating traffic, we are capable of using information in real time to manage a smart road signs system. Here again, proactivity is the key and we could not offer the public a better service.”

David: “Mobility in the city naturally means parking. And we have no shortage of parking places here, since there are 18,000 altogether. The problem is that they are run by various different groups using different methods (and applying different rates). The IoT will enable us to pool resources while meeting real needs.”

The third topic identified is energy. A new element for the city?

David: “We have already made good progress here thanks to our energy consultant who guides us. For example, we have telemetry tools and a heat management system for public buildings. But we still depend on receiving phone calls to report any problems. In my view, the real added value lies in proactive services. “

Alexander: “Of course, the university is particularly interested in this topic. We also know that the city has committed to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The target is to achieve a 40 % reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, but we aim to put forward solutions that would enable cities to reach and even exceed this target.”

Apart from digitalization, what will be the ingredients of tomorrow’s city?

David: “Tomorrow’s city needs to continue to focus on improving ‘living together’. The sustainable development of cities is now essential. Digitalization will help us to consolidate the finances while creating savings. Although there aren’t any simple solutions to complex problems, tomorrow’s city is nonetheless closer than we think."

Alexander: “This project is very real and it can only move forward. Nothing is predefined. That’s the beauty of this pilot project. The main ingredient is the determination to achieve a benefit quickly and the commitment of the general public will be the best binding agent.”

We would like to thank the City of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve for having agreed to take up this challenge and to serve as an example for Wallonia and for Belgium as a whole.

David da Câmara Gomes is the municipal councilor in charge of finance, informatics and administrative simplification, culture, mobility and the public highway. The guiding thread through his career is informatics and he also holds the position of Information Resource Manager DG HR at the European Commission.

Alexander Bosmans is Head of Sales for the public sector at Proximus. He trained as an industrial engineer and has wide experience of international matters and the public sector.

City of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve

  • > 31,300 inhabitants
  • 6.5 inhabitants in 10 are aged between 18 and 64
  • Surface area: 33 km2
  • Creation of Louvain-la-Neuve: 1971

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