In 2021 the cities of Leuven, Brugge and Roeselare decided to join forces and combine their data on one platform – big news, since combining data on a large scale, between different cities, has not been done before in Belgium. Six other Belgian cities and municipalities have shown interest as well and might join the platform in the future. By largely sharing data across city borders, cities can generate added value for their citizens and companies.
The cities of Brugge, Leuven and Roeselare decided to share knowledge and data concerning important issues every center city is facing. Themes such as mobility, safety, durability, livability, local economy and citizen participation. These cities did however have some specific requirements when launching the tender for the Smart Data Platform.
The platform had to be:
FLEXIBLE – SCALABLE – ROBUST– GDPR APPROVED – OPEN – INTEROPERABLE – MONITORED – EVOLUTIONARY – SECURE
To answer to this tender, we have joined forces with CEGEKA into a consortium called Urban Sense. The platform we developed is entirely compliant with the flemish VLOCA architecture (Vlaamse Open City Architectuur). This implies that cities eager to join this future-driven platform, but who already built their own individual platform, according to VLOCA’s standards, can still easily join. The VLOCA architecture makes sure these different platforms are interoperable.
Specific Sirus components:
In November 2019, at a Microsoft dinner in Barcelona, Sirus talked to two Brugge city's spokesmen about the dream of sharing data across different cities. By sharing data, like for example air quality, and by breaking free from data silo's and sharing data on one platform, cities and their citizens could gain a lot more insights.
Over a year later, it became clear that this dream of shared data had lingered on: the cities of Brugge, Leuven and Roeselare launched a tender for a combined Smart City Data Platform. Since our nightly thoughts were overruled by this dream as well, we decided to combine our knowledge with the knowledge of our partner CEGEKA and offer the best possible answer to the difficult but challenging question posed by the three cities.
At this stage, we were one of the four remaining candidates in pursuit of winning the tender launched by the cities of Brugge, Roeselare and Leuven. We geared up and got ready to present our final offer. The components of our data platform would run on the KPN Data Services Hub (DSH), a high speed data streaming platform built by KPN which adheres completely to the requirements of the BLR project. We then added specific components we designed ourselves, here at Sirus, to this existing platform like Context Broker, User Management, Supplier Management, Fact Store, Open Data Portal, Device Management, Data Harmonization and Data Lake.
After quite a few tension-packed months, we finally received the great news that our offer provided the best answer to the requirements of the BLR platform. Together with Cegeka, we flexed our muscles as we were getting ready to start realizing our shared dream of combining data.
By January 2022, we had the platform up and running and could start onboarding the first Use Cases. By gathering data from the Smart City solutions the city already possessed, we could start unboarding several useful cases like for example the noise measurement case for the city of Leuven, a pressure measurement case for the city of Brugge and a water level measurement case for the city of Roeselare.
The Urban Sense Data Platform is based on VLOCA’s architecture, combined with OSLO & European data standards. The technological backbone of the Platform is determined by the KPN Data Services Hub (DSH). The architecture is completed with specific components developed by Sirus.
By setting up specific cases on the platform once, other cities can easily join in when they install similar smart solutions in their city. When Brugge decides to follow Leuven’s example and installs noise meters in its city, they don’t need to pay further onboarding costs, their data is almost automatically added to the platform instead. This provides important cost-saving benefits – one of the main generic requirements for the platform.
One of the first cases being onboarded on the platform was the Use Case of the city of Leuven. The city wanted to measure the noise in specific areas and try to solve the noise pollution in these specific zones so inhabitants of these parts would sleep more peacefully. Since noise pollution is a difficult issue which is hard to control and can be very subjective, the city of Leuven decided to implement Munisense noise sensors to map out the nightly sounds in the city. By analyzing the different types of noise, it is possible to change the intensity of the street lightning in real time so noisy student who come back from a night of partying are subtly nudged towards more positive – and quiet – behavior.
Because this Use Case is now onboarded on the Urban Sense Platform, other cities can implement this light nudging in their city as well. This way, Urban Sense wants to invest in best practice sharing and motivate cities to learn more from their combined insights.
Cities generate tons of structured and unstructured data each day. The diversity of this data makes it very complex to acquire the necessary insights needed to support decisive policy making. In order to handle this data more efficiently, Urban Sense is therefore applying a pragmatic approach. First, we figure out which of a city’s data is relevant, where and how to connect this data and how to present or visualize this data. We make sure this data is safely connected, onboarded and enriched with contextual data. Lastly, we make this data interoperable via our Context Broker.
This pragmatic and clear approach ensures that we can fully help cities and reassure them that they have sight on all of their needed data and that they have an efficient way to make use of this data. Furthermore, cities are always completely aware of the setup-, user-, and maintenance costs of the platform. Our project managers, data experts and service desk are always ready to assist you with any questions.
Brugge, Roeslare and Leuven have some exciting times ahead. When all goes well, other cities might join the platform as well and the BLR project could get even more exciting.
Cities are facing a lot of challenges, but I think the biggest challenge of them all is how to gain correct data, how to control whether the data you are using is accurate. That is exactly why we are using the Smart City Data platform, to combine all of our data from different sensors on one platform. We then possess all the linked data from our suppliers in the same format, on the same platform so we can gain an accurate and complete picture of the different data streams in our city.
Urban Sense is a consortium between Sirus & Cegeka. Cegeka, being one of Belgium’s largest IT providers with a strong focus on Smart Cities’ mobility, interoperability, customer service and helpdesk support and Sirus being the expert in Smart City data solutions formed an alliance to build a Data Platform for cities.
At Sirus, innovation is at our core. We strive to help build the Smart Cities of the future, and the cities of Brugge, Leuven and Roeselare are now part of this innovative future. We are proud to be a part of this collaboration, and if you are to – be sure to follow us on LinkedIn for updates!