Intelligent air pollution meters and smart cameras

Mariann Majorné Venn

By Mariann Majorné Venn, on May 29th, 2018

> Read Mariann Majorné Venn's articles

 Take aways, inspirations and learning from URBACT by the city of Miskolc (HU)

Around 2010 an important paradigm-shift has taken place in the mind-set of city managers, policy makers and industry leaders. Cities realized that building sustainable systems needs to include industry and technology providers to a far greater extent than originally thought. At the same time, the digital revolution made it actually possible to maximize efficiency of urban systems by linking clean technologies, infrastructures, city operators and citizens through smart devices and intelligent services. Businesses identified cities and urban environments as massive new markets and started to introduce apparently tailor-made solutions for the connected and digital city. Data-driven processes are now improving our urban mobility systems and increasingly decentralized energy flows. They help city authorities to take better decisions, save money and have the potential to connect to their communities on a real-time basis. Taken together, this shift of paradigm is the smart city!

These statements introduce the base-line report of the SmartImpact project. The partnership led by the City of Manchester, England comprises cities from Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Romania, Sweden and the Netherlands as well as Miskolc from Hungary. Recently the city presented their plans during the conference entitled “Smart solutions in the everyday life of a city”.

We asked Árpád Horánszky, urban development expert of Miskolc and coordinator of the project about his experience from the participation in the URBACT program.

Why did you join the SmartImpact project?

si-cardIt was an earlier decision of the City of Miskolc to give priority to smart city developments. Several project concepts and schemes emerged, but all of these were separate ideas which could not be linked together to form a strategy, and their role and importance in the city’s development program were not clear either. Therefore the need arose to conceive a smart city development strategy. The SmartCity project offered a good opportunity for us to learn how other cities prepare such a strategy, what issues are to be considered.

Did this cooperation meet your expectations?

Our city joined the transnational exchange with clear aims and prospects. The original plan was to focus on data integration and the use of open data. In the process of learning about the experience of the participating cities enthusiasm and uncertainty were our alternating feelings. On the one hand we saw the magnificent opportunities offered by smart city developments, on the other hand we had to realize the multiple preconditions and the difficulties to be surmounted by a project to be successful. For instance, at a certain point we had to deliberate whether we should undertake the development of an open data system (a data base made accessible to local businesses and residents), which according to the experience of the partner cities needed very great efforts, whereas the rate of return was difficult to foresee. Finally the city decided in favour of the open data systems, though in the long term only, after the elaboration of an adequate data sharing policy and finalisation of some priority developments. Therefore, during our participation in the EU Urban Agenda we proposed to work out a recommendation on data policy for the cities which are faced with this task.

Any concrete actions from partner cities that could be of benefit in Miskolc?

smart-impact

Yes. In Eindhoven for instance locally developed air pollution meters are used, which – as they said – are cheaper and more efficient than those accessible on the market. Therefore we have asked for the technical parameters and currently test their applicability in our city. In Eindhoven (NL) we have also seen an intelligent camera system, which is very close to what we need. This automated system using complex algorithms can enhance public safety by means of the analysis of the image – and in the Dutch case even the sound – and sends warning to the operator in the case of some problem situation. In the partner city Guadalajara (ES), we saw two innovative solutions, which are interesting for us: a project of camera aided smart parking and a participatory system of error administration. And of course we could follow the planning and strategy making processes of the partner cities.

How did you cooperate with the different stakeholders of the city, how did you pursue a common learning process during the project?     

Participants of the URBACT local group (ULG) included public services, businesses and non-profit organisations. The Civil Association of Chance and Participation was a very active member of the group. They provide information to other civil organisations about the project events. According to the organisation scheme of our study tours a small group of our colleagues responsible for the coordination of project implementation was a permanent participant, plus those members of the ULG who were most familiar with the actual theme of the tour were also invited. In this way we could ensure that the permanent actors of the project got all information during the learning process, and the experienced local experts also got their share of new learning and networking opportunities.

What are the possibilities for implementation of the action plan?

smartimpact_camerasSome of our projects are near to the phase of public procurement. The feasibility study of other projects is under way. In some cases the pertaining regulation is still missing. Our aim is to finalize some key projects by 2019. Among these are the development of the intelligent camera system in public institutions and the application of smart air pollution meters. By the end of 2020 we would like to achieve that electronic tickets are used in public transport and that the updated smart traffic control system is in operation, furthermore, that in the field of energy management our smart meters are linked to a smart grid system. One of our interesting developments is called TiMi (“Tiszta Miskolc” = Clean Miskolc), a phone and web application enabling local people to transmit warnings on problems, disturbing or dangerous situations in public spaces.

Would you recommend the participation in URBACT to other cities?

The concrete experiences, the solutions and opportunities learned from the practice of other cities were obviously very important. The development of a partnership network is even more important. We even had the opportunity to contact the URBACT partner cities in issues which were not linked directly to the project. I hope to be able to cooperate with them in other projects in the future. URBACT enables, empowers people to open their eyes to the world. It is also useful sometimes to see that other cities may struggle with similar challenges or that they have just found a way out. I have to add that although the exchange visits are enriching and bring remarkable experience, they also demand hard work and great efforts, and therefore strong commitment is highly important.

Prepared by:

  • Mátyás Sain, Mariann Major Vén, National URBACT Point
  • Árpád Horánszky, SmartImpact local coordinator, Miskolc

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