Section: Application Domains

Mobile urban systems for smarter cities

With the massive scale adoption of mobile devices and further expected significant growth in relation with the Internet of Things, mobile computing is impacting most -if not all- the ICT application domains. However, given the importance of conducting empirical studies to assess and nurture our research, we focus on one application area that is the one of "smart cities". The smart city vision anticipates that the whole urban space, including buildings, power lines, gas lines, roadways, transport networks, and cell phones, can all be wired together and monitored. Detailed information about the functioning of the city then becomes available to both city dwellers and businesses, thus enabling better understanding and consequently management of the city's infrastructure and resources. This raises the prospect that cities will become more sustainable environments, ultimately enhancing the citizens' well being. There is the further promise of enabling radically new ways of living in, regulating, operating and managing cities, through the increasing active involvement of citizens by ways of crowd-sourcing/sensing and social networking.

Still, the vision of what smart cities should be about is evolving at a fast pace in close concert with the latest technology trends. It is notably worth highlighting how mobile and social network use have reignited citizen engagement, thereby opening new perspectives for smart cities beyond data analytics that have been initially one of the core foci for smart cities technologies. Similarly, open data programs foster the engagement of citizens in the city operation and overall contribute to make our cities more sustainable. The unprecedented democratization of urban data fueled by open data channels, social networks and crowd sourcing enables not only the monitoring of the activities of the city but also the assessment of their nuisances based on their impact on the citizens, thereby prompting social and political actions. However, the comprehensive integration of urban data sources for the sake of sustainability remains largely unexplored. This is an application domain that we intend to focus on, further leveraging our research on emergent mobile distributed systems, large-scale mobile sensing & actuation, and mobile social crowd-sensing.

In a first step, we concentrate on the following specialized applications, which we investigate in close collaboration with other researchers, in particular as part of the dedicated Inria Project Lab CityLab@Inria under creation:

  • Democratization of urban data for healthy cities. The objective here is to integrate the various urban data sources, especially by way of crowd-Xing, to better understand city nuisances from raw pollution sensing (e.g., sensing noise) to the sensing of its impact on citizens (e.g., how people react to urban noise and how this affects their health).

  • Socially-aware urban mobility. Mobility within mega-cities is known as one of the major challenges to face urgently due to the fact that today's mobility patterns do not scale and to the negative effect on the environment and health. It is our belief that mobile social and physical sensing may significantly help in promoting the use of public transport, which we have started to investigate through empirical study based on the development and release of dedicated apps.

  • Social applications. Mobile applications are being considered by sociologists as a major vehicle to actively involve citizens and thereby prompt them to become activists. This is especially studied with the Social Apps Lab at UC Berkeley. Our objective is to study such a vehicle from the ICT perspective and in particular elicit relevant middleware solutions to ease the development and development of such “civic apps".

Acknowledging the need for collaborative research in the application domain of smart cities, MiMove is heavily involved and actually leading the effort of creating CityLab@Inria (https://citylab.inria.fr ). CityLab is focused on the study of ICT solutions promoting social sustainability in smart cities, and involves the following Inria project-teams in addition to MiMove: CLIME, DICE, FUN, MYRIADS, OAK, SMIS, URBANET and WILLOW. CityLab further involves strong collaboration with Californian universities affiliated with CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) and especially UC Berkeley, in relation with the Inria@SiliconValley program. We note that Valérie Issarny acts as scientific manager of Inria@SiliconValley and is currently on leave at UC Berkeley. In this context, MiMove researchers are working closely with colleagues of UC Berkeley, including researchers from various disciplines interested in smart cities (most notably sociologists).