Section: Application Domains

Human-centric networks

Combining location awareness and data recovered from multiple sources like social networks or sensing devices can surface previously unknown characteristics of the urban environment, and enable important new services. As a few examples, one could think of informing citizens about often disobeyed (and thus risky) traffic signs, polluted neighborhoods, or queue waiting times at current exhibitions in the urban area.

Beyond letting their own devices or vehicles autonomously harvest data from the environment through embedded or onboard sensors, mobile users can actively take part in the participatory sensing process because they can, in return, benefit from citizen-centric services which aim at improving their experience of the urban life. Crowdsourcing applications have the potential to turn citizens into both sources of information and interactive actors of the city. It is not a surprise that emerging services built on live mobile user feedback are rapidly meeting a large success. In particular, improving everyone’s mobility is probably one of the main services that a smart city shall offer to its inhabitants and visitors. This implies providing, through network broadcast data or urban smart-furniture, an accurate and user-tailored information on where people should head in order to find what they are looking for (from a specific kind of shop to a free parking slot), on their current travel time estimates, on the availability of better alternate means of transport to destination. Depending on the context, such information may need to be provided under hard real-time constraints, e.g., in presence of road accidents, unauthorized public manifestations, or delayed public transport schedules.

In some cases, information can also be provided to mobile users so as to bias or even enforce their mobility: drivers can be alerted of the arrival of an emergency vehicle so that they leave the leftmost lane available, or participants leaving vast public events can be directed out of the event venue through diverse routes displayed on their smartphones so as to dynamically balance the pedestrian flows and reduce their waiting times.