Are cities about to get even more mobile?

Posted on: March 30, 2016 by Santi Ristol

City life stands on the precipice of change. On the one hand, we’re seeing the explosion of mobile, whereby the average person is now using their mobile device up to 150 times per day. On the other hand, we’re seeing the increasing urbanisation of the population – by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities. These two trends are colliding, with the smartphone becoming the “remote control” that is connecting citizens to their city. In turn, this is driving city planners, councils and public services to deliver more seamless and connected experiences for their increasingly digital citizens. Here, I discuss a pilot project designed to connect city apps in Barcelona, and how citizens’ lives can be transformed across different geographies with more joined up public services.

“Build once, deliver everywhere” approach

Five years ago, Barcelona city wanted to connect several legacy systems to different apps to deliver a more connected experience of public services for its citizens. Working with our team at Worldline and several other suppliers, the council created a launcher app to house multiple city apps, making the experience for citizens and tourists using the services more seamless.

But imagine if you could use the same app to get the latest bus timetables in Barcelona as you could in Paris, or the same app to see what West End shows are on in London and what Broadway shows are on in New York! That’s what could be made possible with a cloud-based, multi-city approach, which could be built once and delivered everywhere – it’s our vision for Connected Citizen.

Increasing value of existing Open Data to enhance people’s experience of the city

Connected Citizen provides city councils with a single platform to deliver online public services through a series of mobile apps such as ‘City Portal’, ‘Next2Me’, ‘Agenda’ and ‘Feedback’. It’s transforming Open Data that’s already publicly available into something meaningful that can be used by those engaged with the apps. For instance, City Portal is the launch service, designed to help citizens find apps related to the city they’re in, while Next2Me provides information on nearby facilities and public amenities, such as restaurants, train stations and health centres. Agenda promotes upcoming events taking place in the local area, and Feedback has been developed to help facilitate increased interaction between citizens and city councils, making it easier to report incidents and submit suggestions and questions about the services.

What’s in it for the cities?

Connected Citizen has been designed so that city administrators pay a monthly fee dependent on their population and size. This means they get access to the best apps to and a forum to get closer to their people and tourists visiting their city, with reduced operational and set up costs to maintain online public services.

For the people, they’re more informed about the services and facilities available in their local area, and have everything they need to know in their pocket. Smartphones are increasingly becoming an integral part of everyday life and could soon provide the central hub from which all public services can be controlled and delivered.

What next? Making the connected city experience a reality

If we’re to start seeing seamless, connected public services being rolled out across different geographies and languages, early adoption by multiple cities is critical. To ensure this happens, cities must educate their citizens on the value of these apps and come together to agree on the next common services to add to the portfolio. Could we soon see a universal medical appointment booking app being rolled out or perhaps a multi-city train timetable service? As public services get even more mobile, the possibilities are endless!

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About Santi Ristol
Director of the Mobile Competence Center and member of the Scientific Community
Santi Ristol is Director of the Mobile Competence Center at Worldline (the European leader in the payment and transactional services industry), member of Atos Scientific Community and member of WIN (Worldline Innovation Network). He is also visiting lecturer at the Toulouse Business School in Barcelona. He has been working in Atos since 1992, he started working in satellite communication projects, then he worked in eBusiness projects and later focused in R&D Activities in Atos Research and Innovation. Since 2010 he leads the Mobile Competence Center providing expertise for mobile solutions and digital enablers around mobile solutions (wearables, IoT devices, beacons, blockchain, digital signage, etc.) to Atos and Worldline clients worldwide. Santi is Telecom Engineer from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and holds a Master in eCommerce by La Salle – Universitat Ramon Llull in Barcelona.

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