The Portuguese SME, Ubiwhere, has successfully grown its business in smart city solutions following its participation in the SELECT4CITIES pre-commercial procurement (PCP). This procurement implemented by the cities of Antwerp, Helsinki and Copenhagen helped Ubiwhere win new contracts with cities around Europe to deliver solutions that improve environmental sustainability, citizen engagement in public service delivery and 5G-enabled use cases. Since the PCP, the company doubled its financial turnover as well as its staff headcount.

Picture that shows the Ubiwhere smart cities solution

Beginning 2020, the cities of Antwerpen, Copenhagen and Helsinki completed the SELECT for Cities pre-commercial procurement. The PCP focused on the development of open, service-oriented platforms that enable cities to engage with innovators in large-scale co-creation, testing and validation of urban Internet of Everything (IoE) applications and services. The cities tested the platforms with use cases in public transport and elderly care.

Ubiwhere’s participation in the PCP enabled the company to leverage its experience on Smart Cities and establish new cooperations with companies in other EU countries. After the PCP, Ubiwhere continued to commercialise its flagship product. The fact that leading cities like Antwerp, Helsinki and Copenhagen had invested in it also increased the confidence of buyers in its solutions. As a result, the company’s business has grown, both inside its home country Portugal and in other countries around Europe.

For example, in the municipality of Guimarães in Portugal, Ubiwhere won a contract to carry out the largest smart parking project ever implemented in Portugal. Real-time data collection and analysis via sensors and cameras that integrate artificial intelligence will allow the city to smartly manage urban planning and parking space allocation across more than 900 on-street and off-street parking spaces. Together with an app that provides real-time parking availability information to citizens, the system reduces traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions in the city. The solution reuses the open-source component developed in SELECT4CITIES for automatic KPI calculation according to sustainability indicators defined by the city (e.g. avoiding traffic congestion, noise and CO2 emission reduction etc.)

In the cities of Helsinki, Barcelona and Aveiro, Ubiwhere is installing technology that upgrades existing urban furniture (such as lampposts, cabinets or kiosks) with new wireless computing capabilities that turn it into neutral hosting and edge computing platforms for 5G deployment. This 5G project creates a novel business model for cities that enables telecom operators and other verticals to rent and share this city infrastructure within an open access model, reducing the cost of 5G deployment significantly. This solution will enable new services such as vehicular communication and more efficient data collection and analysis in smart cities. The solution reuses the component developed in SELECT4CITIES that authenticates, authorises and processes a lot of information with low latency.

Ubiwhere has also been closely working with the Portuguese city of Porto to exploit the full potential of data collection to improve citizens’ quality of life, leveraging existing infrastructure and equipment in the urban environment. The technology implemented by Ubiwhere increases the understanding of how the various systems within a city flow and fit together, to enable better decision-making by city authorities. One example concerns the real-time monitoring of the air quality and vehicle counting across the city, which already had a significant impact on decision-making in the city to manage the balance between urban development needs and environmental challenges in multimodal travel planning. New upgrades are in the pipeline to leverage a component developed in SELECT4CITIES (an open data portal) that fosters co-creation and enable interactive feedback from citizens and communities (e.g. concerning incidents on the road, providing input about the organisation of cultural events).

Ricardo Vitorino, smart cities R&I manager, Ubiwhere.:

The SELECT4Cities pre-commercial procurement has been very beneficial for our company. It truly allowed us to validate our vision for smart cities and boost our confidence in the market, through the co-creation process with the three municipalities! Moreover, it was also a great opportunity to assess the performance of different open-source components and choose the best-of-breed options for our technical roadmap. It is our opinion that the European Commission should reinforce its support for cross-border pre-commercial procurements over the coming years.

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