Visions for Smart Cities
Future Internet Assembly in Aalborg
The Future Internet Assembly 2012 was held on 10 and 11 May in the city of Aalborg under the Danish EU Presidency as part of the Future Internet Week. About 500 researchers and EU officials came to North Jutland to talk about “Smart Cities and Internet of Things”, the theme of the event. For those who had visited the previous Future Internet Assembly (FIA) events, the conference did not offer any surprises or new insights -- it was business as usual. That said, the event offered an excellent opportunity for social networking across research areas and projects.
The opening session, chaired by conference organiser Neeli Prasad from Aalborg University, was dedicated to Smart Cities. Presenters of the first session included Thomas Kastrup-Larsen, Alderman of Health and Sustainable Development, City of Aalborg, Finn Kjærsdam, President of Aalborg University, Ramjee Prasad, Director of Center for Teleinfrastruktur, Mario Campolargo, Director of DG INFSO Emerging Technologies and Infrastructures, and Morten Østergaard, Danish Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education. This was followed by a keynote speech by Thierry Van Landegem, Vice President at Alcatel-Lucent, on ICT infrastructure as a key enabler of Smart Cities. The next keynote by Reinhard Scholl, Deputy Director of ITU, focused on collaboration for Smart Standards as enablers of Smart Cities and the Internet of Things.
Keynote speech by Thierry Van Landegem from Alcatel-Lucent
at the opening session of the Future Internet Assembly
A Round Table, chaired by Reinhard Scholl, expanded on various aspects of Smart Cities. Panelists included Thomas Kastrup-Larsen from the City of Aalborg, Asta Fog Larsen, a citizen of Aalborg, Jose M. Hernandez-Munoz from Telefonica, Rolf Hapel, Director Citizen Services and Libraries from the Danish city of Aarhus, Inigo de la Serna, Mayor of the Spanish city of Santander, and Markkula Markku, Advisor at Aalto University in Finland. The panel discussion was somehow very predictable and provided few new insights to the Smart Cities discussion, so the ensuing signing of the Smart City Manifesto was the highlight of the morning.
Hands-on FIRE demo
Those who preferred to get their hands, or at least their eyes, on real research results related to Future Internet Research and Experimentation (FIRE), had the opportunity to visit the Hands-on FIRE demonstration, which was organised by the FIRE STATION project. The demonstrations included, for example, topics like Integrating Smart & Green Buildings with the Web (HOBNET project), Optical network control through OpenFlow (OFELIA project), OpenFlow and P2P integrated testing (OpenLab project), and Federation of Future Internet platforms (NOVI project), to name just a few. The demonstrations showed a high degree of substantial achievement by these projects.
Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were packed with parallel sessions. The topics focused mainly on Smart Cities or the Internet of Things. Other session topics included Clouds, open platforms for innovation, standardisation, and online gaming. At one of those sessions, Dave Carter from the Manchester Digital Lab (MadLab) demanded infinite bandwidth and zero latency. This looks like a real challenge for European researchers and the underlying business models. At the venue, the Aalborg conference centre, the participants could only dream of infinite bandwidth, as the WLAN provided suffered from significant load. The contrast between the vision of perfect connectivity and the harsh reality of shared limited network resources is nowhere to be felt more than at large Future Internet events, like the Future Internet Assembly.
In contrast to previous years, the FIA in Aalborg will be the only official FIA event in 2012. The FIA community had expressed concerns about the frequency of events, so the organisers have taken steps to transform the FIA into an annual event. This could help to make future FIA events more stimulating, as there will be more substantial progress on many issues between events.
If you wish to learn more about what is going on in European Future Internet research, a good place to start is the new FIA book:
The Future Internet. Future Internet Assembly 2012: From Promises to Reality. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 7281. Springer 2012. ISBN 978-3-642-30240-4