The Great Escape II: The Internet of Things on Public Spaces

Recently, while developing a project for Smart City modeling and Citizen Living Experience for a Spanish town, the process of changing the model of public space into a passively value generating public space took an accelerating process. How can, then, IoT (Internet of Things) and EV (Electric Vehicles) mobility enhance the public spaces? How can the concept of a regenerative and value adding public space be part of an integral Smart City and Smart Mobility modeling?

On one hand, IoT is one of the key drivers for passive granularity of data. This fact is one of the main drivers for a public space and the social interactions occurring on that very public space in order to achieve spatial efficiency.

When planning and integrating innovation on the built environment, as well as the confluence integration of different approaches (bottom up design, participatory design, mobility interaction, etc. all) the vastness of data to control becomes one of the main barriers for that public space to succeed.

The capability to have the correct and advisable set of data belongs to granularity management and design of the required IoT. And IoT allows public space to get the sensors required for data collection much closer to existing and foreseeable target elements than simply having a set of environment sensors.

This granularity can help measure effectiveness of public space usage, effectiveness of transit and transit derived elements, and how data can be metabolized and incorporated into the management of the public space and public sector (City protocol, signed and progressed by several institutions, has just started to elaborate on this field). Granularity is achievable through volume and placement. Simply put, unlocalized or global sensor will not be enough.

Granularity shows, as well, certain challenges in order to be perfectly integrated and perfectly achievable by both cities, citizens and the services around them.

Connectivity: Mobility, citizens, sensorings and the Internet of Things

Granularity on data has helped us understand that mobility has to evolve into a system able to work on the general grid or layer a city is, and on the particularity levels citizens will demand to have. That can only be achieved by a perfect synchronization between data collection and data management, along with data expectations citizens already have.

Designing the framework of a city citizen experience – which is key to manage the competitiveness logbook or binnacle – shall include a data collection strategy. And on that strategy is key to understand how connected devices can help granularity achieve the best balance for a set social elements and city environment.

Connected devices and connected urban apparel will have to get communicating with smart mobility related real-time sensoring. The first, the connected urban apparel have the advantage to log static data, whereas smart mobility IoT has the capability of moving sensors, unleashing the potential of two different approaches for city management and city life:

The static elements can measure site and place evolution, whereas mobile sensors and IoT can measure transitions between sites and places.

Improving the cities and the quality of life of citizens

It is important to notice that regardless of the nature of the data to be measured and the communication IoT can develop to enhance public space, digital sensoring and the Internet of Things is a step further development of the concept of Sentinel Species.

We have been using Sentinel Species to gauge and interact with the environment surrounding us. And IoT and mobile sensoring – which is presented on Smart Mobility – will just enhance the capacities Sentinel Species have on urban environments.

Moreover, IoT can be used to enhance the use and spatial efficiency of the public space. That does not mean IoT has to be present as an active part of the public space – or the property figure of any given part. IoT can help us reach the required granularity to better understand and better project the public space usage and utility.

IoT can help us connect different parts of the same city to counteract the lack of social activity a certain area has, and can evolve into a pathology for that area. Integrated with smart mobility, it can help via passive and non-intrusive connectivity to activate areas of the city that might suffer from the CBD (Central Business District) syndrome very many cities have developed (Antony Gormley: ‘London is bought, developed and abandoned’), and prevent urban economies from having the property and ownership peaks it usually develops.

Yet the most important element of IoT within Smart Mobility systems and creating value on public space across cities is its capability of improving management and transparency.

What do you think about the increasing connectivity of public spaces? Would you imagine yourself on a better public space due to the connectivity and technological interaction it has? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

The Great Escape: Can Electric Mobility Enhance Public Space for Citizens

Public space is the front and back end reason for a city to exist. No matter which culture, formal result or indentation on everyday life it creates, public space is the catalyst of any urban settlement. So much so that, when a city loses the public space as that realm where people interaction occurs, the city loses the very values that sustain that interaction and is better understood as a built environment ensemble. A space for citizens – citizen spaces.

The interaction between citizens is the very foundation of any business and entrepreneurship initiatives, social movements, and the very livability of any other indicators that make a city, a territory, smart and resilient to natural and human induced complications.

In order to understand the public space, rather than concentrating on the formal end of the public space (which is equally important on areas such as strategic inclusion, social inclusion and value creation on the city and inhabitants, as at Cressingham Gardens proposal), people can start asking the principal strategic questions any city initiative has to follow: who, when, what, why, where, which and most importantly, how are citizens going to get to the public space?

Electric mobility as space enhancer: two great escapes

The reach of public space is key for its performance. As land and territory are very scarce resources, every single plot has to perform to its full potential. For that, accessibility and internal mobility have to grant the insertion of the public space within the urban or city tissue. As with people, business and organizations, city spaces are as valuable as the quantity and quality of the connections they have.

Electric mobility can help increase those connections (inbound and outbound) with a very simple quality: lack of immediate pollution. Although electricity as a power resource is said to transfer pollution from the point of consumption to the electric generation, the need of diversification of power supply will help address this issue. And it will increase yet another factor for more efficient public spaces: increasing the productive and functional layering of that said public space.

Will public space regain its public authority

The inclusion of electric mobility is most definitely about to change several layers of the city concept people usually have in mind. As city innovation, at KUDA! (Kulture, Urbanism, Design, Architecture) we not only have innovate planning, but get involved sooner than expected with the holistic approach to the city: governance, citizenship, urban character, city business development and city development modeling are among the delivery systematics involved, as in Cressingham Gardens, Vardo, and the Electric Vehicle User Experience.

Electric mobility will help increase the density and intensity of connections made at street level, and incorporate new and innovative models of traffic regulation that will amply surpass the hierarchy model used contemporary, which is not the most efficient way of using the territory.

It will help incorporate innovative infrastructure for both charging and on demand traffic control adapted to individual mobility units, alleviate immediate pollution helping cohabitate pedestrian motion, street level commerce and activity, and be the backbone of the introduction of the productive public space concept throughout most of the cityscape around the world.

That will help open and adapt that concept to already congested cities and urban areas where the traffic hierarchy is heavily undermining the public space quality due to speed inconsistencies, such as the Indian large cities, or South East large urban conurbations, helping those cities regain the productivity of that public space increasing the activity areas on each public space typology.

Moreover, a larger capacity of interaction between moving traffic and pedestrian mobility can help design and implement more flexible spaces. Increase the density and intensity of use as public space is one of the scarcest resources available on the city and urban conurbations.

How do you think electric mobility can enhance public spaces? Do you think they will benefit from having cleaner first mile transportation cohabiting with existing spaces? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

How Electric Mobility Will Change the Citizen Experience in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the forefronts for intelligent mobility among international rankings for the evenly and multifaceted approach it has related to applying the smart concept within the city realms, both socially, on the economy level, and on the forefront of mobility. The city continues to implement the best mobility technologies and sustainability programs in an effort to improve efficiency and the lives of citizens.

With more than four million inhabitants and more than seven million visitors per year, Barcelona is a paradigm of the mobility mixture: the native or long-stay mobility, and visitor mobility. Due to the amount of visiting numbers, both systems have to work seamlessly and with a specific hierarchy for them to be as profitable as their potential show.

Smart mobility within the city is, right now, scattered on several platforms, systems and differential developments that address a deferential need for each citizen type. Taking into account that the profile of a citizen is that of 0-99 years of age, concerns regarding digital inclusion, how the system will evolve and user adoption are key to understand how electric and smart mobility can change the citizen experience beyond the realms of the city.

How can electric mobility improve the quality of life of Barcelona’s citizens?

One of the best characteristics of smart mobility is its cross platform and service oriented design set, from apps to physical interaction. When designing the EV (electric vehicle) User Experience, changes on the visible infrastructure and the city interaction were the main concerns.

However, when developing this very project for the City of Barcelona, figures showed that key to success and to improving the smart mobility adoption was to understand the hidden value proposition of this mobility system: seamless adoption within professional trades and guilds, and the private user.

Professional guilds can better integrate their tools and work processes increasing the transparency of the process and helping technology and modal change delve better on the city everyday use. Accessibility is, therefore, improved, both practically and on the perception chain level: for example, a citizen can seamlessly switch from private mobility to public transit with the swipe of a need, from the Prat Airport to the Güell Park.

Electric mobility can improve the pedestrian life of citizens

On the other hand, the infrastructure developments required to successfully implement the electric mobility within Barcelona are a great opportunity to both update the street level security, energy efficiency and material development [through smart city technology], and desaturate underground infrastructure congestion.

Because of its very nature of silent transportation and the capability to upcycle individual transportation with e-bikes and shared unmanned vehicles, smart mobility and electric mobility help citizens discover city parts not accessible by regular combustion vehicles.

On top of that, the zero emission nature of the vehicles [on the spot] will help diminish the pollution concentration of mobility systems, changing the landscape and streetscape and helping sidewalks on the city be perceived as less polluted spaces: the citizen will regain walking space.

For the very nature of Barcelona and the heavily congested pedestrian areas, this is a big advantage. Regaining sidewalks and loosing the emissions on the vehicle spot can help Barcelona change the face of its streets and improve the pedestrian life of its citizens.

Do you think switching to electric vehicles will change the citizen’s experience? If yes or no, share your opinions in our comment section


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.