Thanks to EPIC, becoming a “Smart City” is no longer the prerogative only of big cities with big ICT budgets. Instead, the EPIC Smart City roadmap, service catalogue and cloud platform enable every city in Europe to access and deploy innovative Smart City applications that meet their budgets and needs.
EPIC offers city managers a Roadmap for their journey towards becoming a smart city in a strategic way. The Roadmap consists of a short-term assessment exercise covering vision, budget and delivery. EPIC also uses its cloud platform (currently based on IBM infrastructure) to deliver Smart City solutions “as a service”.
The Roadmap and Cloud Platform provide the foundations for EPIC's unique selling point: a marketplace for Smart City services. In this marketplace, EPIC brings together service providers and information/data providers (from private and public sector) in order to aggregate “Smart City services” with added value for citizens, city visitors, businesses in the city and the city itself. This marketplace is technically underpinned by the EPIC platform where web services (based on open standards like JSON, SOAP ...) combine with external databases and are made available by portlets (ready to be consumed by desktop or mobile devices). This resulting “product catalogue” forms the unique marketplace proposition of EPIC.
The European Platform for Intelligent Cities (EPIC) project was funded by the European Commission under the 2010 Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) objective ”Open innovation for future Internet-enabled services in smart cities”.
The aim of the project was to validate the concept and design of the EPIC platform architecture for the delivery of smart city services through the development, integration and redeployment of three Smart City pilot applications:
- The Relocation pilot allows users planning to relocate to Brussels to search for properties that satisfy their personal requirements, in terms both of the accommodation and price and the proximity to public transport, schools and other facilities. This Pilot demonstrates how public data on points-of-interest provided by CIBG (IT-department of the Brussels Region) can be combined with private data on available properties obtained from ImmoWeb and maps obtained from Google maps to create highly-interactive solutions built on web-services and portlets. The large-screen version is also complemented by a version suitable for a mobile device for use during visits to Brussels.
- The Smart City 3D (Urban Planning) pilot demonstrated how a 3D model of a city can be used to explore the city; view rich media about key points of interest and understand the services offered by the SME community. The application also provided tools for SMEs to customise their information and to inter-communicate using Social Media feeds. SmartCity 3D also demonstrated how a commercial 3D games engine (in this case Unity) could be readily integrated into the EPIC platform to provide the 3D visualisation functionality required in a client browser.
- The Smart Environment pilot was developed on two parallel threads to maximise alignment with the needs of smart cities, namely to encourage citizens to understand and hence reduce their personal energy usage (domestic energy consumption) and to demonstrate how the city administration is reducing energy used in public buildings (energy monitoring for public buildings).
EPIC was developed and tested in the Cities of Manchester (UK), Issy-les-Moulineaux (France) and the Brussels Region (Belgium), before being deployed in Tirgu Mures (Romania).
Through the development, operation, user testing and redeployment of these pilots, the EPIC project defined and validated the platform architecture, as well as a number of principles which can be used widely:
- Cloud Platform: the project demonstrated the viability of using a cloud approach for the evaluation and delivery of smart city services, minimising hardware cost and providing elasticity to meet highly variable user demands.
- Open Standards: the principle of open standards, which was core to the project, will enable the lessons learned from the EPIC platform to be readily replicated and applied outside the project.
- Device Agnostic Solutions: the structure developed during the project has a minimised reliance on specific hardware, enabling the platform to be hosted by devices of the end users.
- Design for Re-Use: the varying pilots demonstrated how web services and portlets enable easy re-deployment for any new city.
- “User-in-the-Loop” Development and Testing: The pilot applications were implemented on the platform and tested with citizens, engaged through the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), to ensure that the platform could be tested across a diverse range of current and future application scenarios.
An EPIC Future
The European Commission grant funding ended on the 31st August 2013, however the legacy of EPIC lives on through various initiatives:
- Business Incubation Funding: The SME Members of the EPIC Consortium are currently preparing for submission of the EPIC Business Model to the iStart Business Incubation Grant competition. Upon successfully passing the iStart review process, the team could receive a potential funding of up to 100.000€, along with business mentoring, in order to start an official EPIC venture – EPIC Ltd.
- European Commission Funding: Some Epic's partners have joined the currently under negotiation project ECIM (European Cloud marketplace for Intelligent Mobility). ECIM would take the EPIC concept forward for further development and move to a large-scale validation of an end-to-end service infrastructure, with mobile payment platforms for city transport services.
- iMinds Commercial Spin-Off: iMinds is preparing the creation of a commercial spin-off dedicated to Smart City services. This spin-off is not planned to directly commercialise specific technologies developed within the EPIC project, but would be feeding on the ideas, competencies, and networks that have been developed within EPIC.
- Birmingham City University Commercial Spin-Off: Birmingham City University will repurpose and extend the end-to-end technology solutions, developed within EPIC, to monitor energy usage in homes and public buildings, to provide generic energy monitoring and data transport for sensor networks. Initially this will take place within the Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) funded KIC-Transitions project which focuses on sustainability modelling and simulation tools and data for city planners.
- 21c Sustainability: 21c entered the UK Government G-Cloud procurement to become an accredited supplier of cloud services for UK cities. The package successfully entered was to supply Smart City training for new cities and administrations in the field. Once EPIC Ltd will be up and running, 21c will market its accredited status to help bring business into the new venture.
- Deloitte Sustainability: Deloitte has experienced positive business results by implementing the Roadmap for Smart Cities in their approach to city administrators and in project approaches for partners within the city ecosystem. At the City of Mechelen, Deloitte is using the Vision element of the roadmap to determine the strategy plan. At IRISNET, Deloitte has reworked the maturity model and assessment to identify the readiness of local municipalities for mutualized video protection platform terms of strategic, legal and technology fit.