When visualising a smart city, images of Mediterranean islands are unlikely to come to mind. While numerous, the islands are small and often lack the infrastructure for sustainable management.
Using ICT to increase efficiency and encourage engagement will improve quality of life for citizens and also boost tourism – a key sector for the Mediterranean area in today’s economic climate.
A ‘Smart-Island’ provides its inhabitants and visitors with ICT-based services in sectors such as mobility, tourism, leisure, real estate, weather, sea conditions and the environment. Information can be consulted free of charge via a 3D tablet (iOS, Android) or desktop interface. While spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) for islands and smart services do exist, they cannot be used to create a ‘Smart-Island’ as geographic datasets and databases are not integrated or harmonised.
The project has already produced apps for 17 islands – 10 in Greece, 7 in Italy, plus one each for Malta, Ibiza (Spain) and Nicosia (Cyprus). More are planned. To develop the apps, the team created a complete SDI comprising several datasets. These included a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), orthophotos (aerial photographs) of the island, and information on points of interest collected on site and via a web-based end-users’ app.
This information collection app was developed using a harmonised data model and is designed to retrieve opendata information from third parties and build an update mechanism for the Smart-Islands apps. Users may contribute to the information available by editing details of a point of interest or suggesting a new one, be it a hotel, restaurant shop or something else.
The applications were developed using the unity3D softwaredevelopment kit. They provide citizens and users with accurate and timely services and data, such as information on a city’s facilities; maps indicating tourist sites, facilities and routes; travel booking services; real-time weather forecasts; GPS detection; 360o photos; videos; event information and access to social networks so that information can be shared with friends.
The project team is currently commercialising the apps, which can be downloaded via the Apple and Android stores. The goal is to have recovered all investment by 2015 – two years after the project finished.