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Last November 13th to 15th the city of Barcelona hosted the Smart City Expo World Congress. This International Event pretends to be the meeting point for companies, public administration, entrepreneurs and research centres to show, learn, share, network and gather inspiration to support the modern development of future cities.  Interesting

Having a look at the program (http://www.smartcityexpo.com/en/ ) one can realize that main case studies and panel discussions were built around the concept of a “Smart Society for innovative and sustainable cities”, integrating the following  themes: Energy, Environment, Innovation &Technology, Collaborative City & the Smart Society, Economy & Governance, Urban Planning, Mobility, Emergency & Security and Smart Geo. Very much interesting.

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Urban Matters initiative is SAP’s strategy for city, urban and state government. It encompasses our vision for helping governments address the big challenges faced in our urban world and it fundamentally tackles how SAP improves the lives of citizen’s, how we help government be best run and how this makes a difference to achieving a better run world.  It is a good starting point, but the question might be: Is Urban Matters the right approach, does it address innovation or only a consolidated portfolio of existing SAP applications?

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This concept has been already presented in public at forums like the Energy Efficiency and the future of cities congress which took place in Ljubljiana on September 20th and 21st and where the idea  of Smart Cities was analysed from the perspectives of Sustainable development model & EU Agenda 2020 and the multilevel governance for energy efficiency solutions (EU- State – City/Municipality level) including some good practices examples of City of Ljubljana and Copenhagen.

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Reading the content from SAP presentation at this Congress and some discussion minutes  I realized on the amazing potential of innovation that the smartcity concept contains being the city a service provider of innovative content, not only efficiency related, to its citizens.

A few weeks later I had the privilege to attend a Design Thinking workshop on this subject with Gai Danon, one of the masterminds of the Urban Matters concept and together with other colleagues we discussed on potential innovation areas where SAP can provide a key concept and technology, being mainly identified the following

–          Land Development forecast and simulation:  this is a 3D model of the development of a Real State: a new building, neigbourhood, city infrastrucutre, transport route or facilty using all business data combined with simulation  algorithms combining data from multiple sources and based on layers:  energy efficiency / human usability / budget / transport accessability / emissions etc: can we quantify the benefits of such a tool? Is it feasible to build? I think so.

–          Data Platform for new startups: being a council the owner of an increasingly amount of data from andy kind of sensors and other data sources, it is not possible for themselves to use extensively such amount of data, BIG DATA, and benefit its citizens of services (mainly apps) providing information and value added services of any kind from that source:  why don’t enable this platform for new companies interested into experimenting and creating new services (apps) for the citizens? If successful, they can later monetarize the new apps and in that case the Council would not only provide information and value added services but also will help into creating new business in the city: aren’t cities looking for such these kind of things?.  

Discussion led to evaluate the feasibility of this idea:  does it have sense? We think so. One of the lessons learnt at SAP from the moblity line of business is the high rotation and volatilty of the apps, meaning that a councily cannot have such a large amount of resources dedicated to program and upadate new apps not mentinoning the design, but individual startups. What about data privacy? We also have experience with that and at SAP we have already developed algorithms to mask company data in order to enable it for testing purposes….

Exciting ideas. This is the power of innovation.

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