03.03.2015

FIWARE: technology to create a European ecosystem of smart cities

Image | FIWARE at 4YFN

How does one distinguish a smart city from one that is not? Smart cities are those that have embraced technological systems capable of offering services and benefits that citizens can control via mobile devices, making their lives easier. In this way, citizens who experience this urban model will be able to access, thanks to the information gathered by an extensive network of sensors, information relative to the weather, noise levels, traffic status, available parking spaces, etc.

FIWARE, an initiative launched by the European Commission and a consortium of private companies, was created in 2011 with a view to seizing the baton of digitalisation and using it to back the creation of a sustainable ecosystem based on the integration of Internet technologies. Based on the development of its own free technology, consisting of a set of application programming interfaces (APIs), FIWARE promotes an acceleration program dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs across all sectors to initiate their projects. Until 2016 FIWARE is making readily available a budget of 80 million euros so that different European projects can build the Internet of the future, and do so in a sustainable way.

More than 3,000 startups and European SMEs have already sent in their proposals, and more than 400 are already working with one of the 16 accelerators selected by FIWARE. They cover a broad range of different sectors, such as eHealth, transport, agriculture, the mass media and logistics. The FIWARE acceleration programs include direct financing, mentoring and networking. Some of the projects that have been launched on the market thanks to the FIWARE initiative include SmartDrive, an application to connect smartphones to cars; Notegraphy, which gives one’s writing a unique style; and Healthia, a platform to find a doctor in the most affordable way. These startups and more, which have already have benefitted from the FIWARE acceleration program, will be represented at the world’s largest international mobile entrepreneurship event: 4 Years From Now (4YFN).

The aim of FIWARE is to place entrepreneurship and innovation at the centre of the digital economy. Thus, in addition to its acceleration program, the initiative shares its technology with cities, universities and key centres worldwide so that, based on its implementation, digital technology applied to the Internet of Things can be accessed by all citizens.

In Spain, Valencia was the first city to adopt FIWARE for its growth as a smart city when the University of Valencia decided to exploit this technology to develop the Smartaxi project. Through this app taxi drivers can determine the busiest areas, in real time, thereby locating customers more easily. This is how the analysis of Big Data made possible by FIWARE algorithms offers workers a practical tool that facilitates their work.

FIWARE also periodically organises events so that creative professionals, entrepreneurs and programmers can develop applications based on open source, as well as challenges and hackathons held to foment the discovery of new talents. This was how FIGuardian came about, a Brazilian project recognised at the last FIWARE Challenge, created to function with the 112 hotline for the detection of earthquakes and natural catastrophes. Brazil, Mexico and Chile are the first Latin America countries to have opened or that plan to open FIWARE to accelerate the development of applications and facilitate the inclusion of new smart cities in the ecosystem’s data standard.

The FIWARE acceleration programme, its technology based on open APIs and its direct relationship with the Internet of Things, will be presented, with an in-depth examination during the 4YFN program through keynote addresses and talks: from 2 to 4 March at the Fira de Barcelona facilities in the Plaza España.