International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development
IKED - International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development

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..:: The New Data Age and Smart Cities
The information revolution is about to enter a new stage with the combination of big data, smart sensors, convergence, distributed computing, the cloud, the Internet of things, and artificial intelligence. With 5G, Broadband capacity rolled out with support of satellites will be beyond anything we have seen to date and span the entire planet.

The resulting massive and also dense continuous communication between billions of human users and trillions of intelligent devices will transform the digital world as we have known it to date. In part, this is observable in the rise of “smart cities”, “smart cars”, “smart buildings”, and so forth. Another aspect is the adoption of digital interactive schemes, going beyond traditional “campaigns”, inspiring people through measurement, action and re-action in-real-time, to become aware and care for the consequences of their action, by way of health, environment, transport, consumption of food, water and energy, and so forth. Meanwhile, issues of security, authentication, authorisation, privacy, integrity, accountability and trust will have to be resolved through new means, capable of managing a sharpening trade-off between security and usability, and with user-centric means for human beings to have a stronger "say" how their personal data is accessed and put to use.

On policy
Policies are inherently slow in making, compared to technical progress and the processes of developing and commercializing new digital products. To further complicate the situation, policies are influenced by vested interests, may lack a clear direction at national level and be bogged down by ineffective collaboration on a super-national level. This contributes to a gradual shift of emphasis to the regional/local level, where the need arises to broaden the room to maneuver locally while working out the means of managing compatibility with surrounding areas.

Much of the direct action that is now taken by public authorities to instigate new partnerships and solutions to various outstanding issues through use of ICT, occurs at the level of cities or local communities. Through application of ICT, data is now increasingly collected, processed and used in a way that engages people in an interactive process, allowing for continuous adjustment in-real-time to produce an environment for working and living that is much more receptive to outstanding needs.

Of all European cities with more than half a million inhabitants, more than 90% now have distinct elements of a smart city agenda. In other regions, such as Asia or the Middle East, the share is less, but examples of dynamic and uniquely devised smart cities are appearing in all parts of the world.

Project activities
Much remains to achieve by way of shifting the logic of policy-making away from serving as an afterthought to setting directions that make sense because they serve to back functionality and stakeholder engagement based on concern about outputs, not the adoption of specific solutions, and based on principles of vendor and technology-neutrality.

This agenda opens for a range of new project activities centering on experimentation, learning and producing practical new tools for realizing a better future. Collaborating with various partner organisations, IKED engages to a range of such activities, through structuring of analysis, development of new strands of innovative content, and through implementation of new schemes notably at city-level.

Starting June 1st 2018, the EU-funded URBiNAT project (see separate heading) advances an agenda for promoting an innovative and inclusive catalogue of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for the regeneration and integration of deprived urban areas, applying to both European and non-European partner organisations. In this, IKED plays a central role in the application of "smart" digital tools for citizen engagement, interwoven with solidarity and social economy initiatives, social innovation for value-generation, incubation for business development and capacity building. In addition, IKED holds the coordinating role with regard to non-EU partners, including Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Oman.

In separate activities, two of IKED’s experts serve as “invited international experts of the Chinese Society for Urban Study (CSUS)” for pilot testing and standardization of the smart city context in China.

In Doha, Qatar, IKED engages in collaboration with Qatar Foundation, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and Ericsson Ltd. on the development of new content and incentive schemes for promoting mobility and improved food and drink habits among young students. This initiative connects with a broader scheme for preparing a new Middle East – European forum and cross-border institute addressing “prevention and personalized medicine”, worked out in collaboration with researchers at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. On a separate track, IKED promotes awareness creation and behavioral change related to greening, water usage and the introduction of biofarms in Oman and Qatar.

Among earlier activities, IKED contributed to the 2015 EcoCity World Summit, which took place in Abu Dhabi, Oct. 11-13, 2015. Offering a Forum for comparing experiences of various city initiatives from around the world in achieving both ecological balance and economic progress, the event demonstrated the rapid advances under way in multiple places to engage people in pulling technical progress and its new applications for resolving critical outstanding issues.

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