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Cloud gives citizens more ClouT in smart cities

The ClouT project is a collaboration between Europe and Japan that seeks to exploit all possible information sources to make cities smarter and help them to face emerging challenges, such as efficient energy management, economic growth, and development.

Urban regions around the world are aiming to offer a more efficient, sustainable, and better quality life for their citizens. ICT plays a substantial role in achieving these aims and thus in meeting the growing demand for smarter and more efficient cities.

Living with 'the internet of things'

By allowing anything to be interconnected, 'the internet of things' (IoT) has great potential to increase the smartness of cities and city life. IoT devices can capture data not only about temperature, air quality, and movement, but also about user preferences, intentions, medical conditions, and so on. This wealth of data can inform cities, offering a wide range of options for facing emerging challenges, such as efficient energy management, economic growth, development, and citizens' wellbeing and health.

It is envisaged that in the coming years tens of millions of new objects and sensors will be connected to the IoT, all generating real-time data. The sheer volume of data coming from the IoT will require improved storage technologies, and this is where IoT meets cloud computing: cloud technologies may provide the computing power required to process the data coming from the IoT devices.

A project with ClouT

The ClouT project sees a group of European and Japanese organizations coming together to cooperate in building tools and applications for cities and their citizens. Prototypes of the ClouT solution will be deployed in four cities: Santander, Spain; Genoa, Italy; and Mitaka and Fujisawa, both in Japan. Each prototype city will develop innovative applications useful in domains such as security, transport, healthcare, and entertainment.

Healthcare and assistance for the elderly

The Japanese city of Mitaka, for example, will focus on providing healthcare and assistance to the elderly. In Japan, as in Europe, an important challenge for local governments is improving quality of life for the elderly. In recent years, the number of elderly people living alone in Mitaka has increased, along with the need for an environment that supports them in their everyday lives.

This is an edited version of an article originally published in issue three of SUCRE CloudSource Magazine under the headline 'ClouT - Cloud of Things for empowering the citizen clout in smart cities'. Front page image courtesy Benson Kua, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

In this context, Mitaka will evaluate the ClouT platform in terms of its ability to collect and capitalize on human information. It will effectively match participatory sensing data (i.e., data provided by the citizens themselves) with open city data (i.e., static data the local government holds). This data match and processing will support Mitaka's local government and communities in responding to the needs of its elderly citizens.

Mitaka's applications are classified into two types:

1. The Interoperable Data Storing field trial plans to create and operate a 'Dynamic Town Data Storage' facility that collects the data of city events and the activities of citizens.

2. The Actuating-People field trial uses data from the 'Dynamic Town Data Storage' facility to generate customized city information aimed at motivating its citizens to be active and participate in city life.

ClouT in action: aged care

Using these applications via the ClouT platform, Mitaka aims to create an environment in which the elderly will not feel isolated at home anymore, and where they can receive support and a set of everyday suggested activities to help them to keep healthy.

Through the ClouT platform, the elderly can receive suggested walking routes - based on their health, past walking itineraries, and weather conditions. They can also receive information about upcoming events, based on their individual preferences and past activities. Shopping support can even be provided via suggestions on the best pedestrian routes and shop information.

By providing a safer city environment, Mitaka aims to motivate elderly people to go out more and enjoy healthier lifestyles.

For further information on the ClouT project, visit clout-project.eu.

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