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Investigators from the Universidad Autónoma of Barcelona have developed a computer simulation model that helps municipal politicians decide about what improvements can be made in the infrastructures to increase the number of bicycle users.

Developed in a first stage for the city of Skopje, Macedonia, this model can preview the results and predict the effect of a number of infrastructural changes make in the number of bicycle users. Thanks to the application of the model the Council of Skopje expects to increase from the current 2.5% to 5%, which is the typical rate in cities from northern Europe, where riding bicycles is a consolidated option.

Some of the improvements that are contemplated within the program are the improvement of the pavements of the roads, the building of new roads, the opening of new parking and bicycle rental areas, as well as the improvement of the capacity of these stations.

To measure the impact that each possible change can have, the model takes the characteristics of the people into account: the initial motivation to use a bike, the level of motivation loss with time, or the increases of motivation of people when they ride their bike.

As the budget of local councils are always limited, this model helps to establish what changes are to be done, for example the building of a number of new parking stations of new roads, or the improvement of a certain area. With these options as a starting point, the model shows a list of possible combinations as a result, with the percentage of users that would use their bicycle in each case, and that determines the best combination for a certain objective.

It is not common for politicians to use computer models for their decision making, but this system is having a very warm welcome in the municipalities that are testing its use. The investigators of the UAB have created similar models to simulate different situations, such as mountain trails, distribute the space in an urban park, determine the type of municipal equipment is best for the residents of the area, or even redistribute the industry in a big city to minimize the environmental impact. All of these implementations are under study in different cities all around the world.

This work is part of the FUPOL project, financed by the FP7 European Framework, that develops advanced tools of artificial intelligence to support politicians in the design and implementation of social political measures.


Around 150 neighbors have shared their opinion in a virtual consultation to decide where to build a health park… and the park is now a reality!

gordexolaThe neighbors of Gordexola expressed their opinion: they wanted the health parks proposed by the Council to be installed near the Zubiete walkway and in the surroundings of the municipal swimming pool. This opinion has been collected through the pilot participation project that the Council of Gordexola backed, with the collaboration of the BiscayTIK Foundation within the Live+Gov European project. Around 150 people answered the proposed questions and for the people from the Council this is “a very positive result if we take into account the population of our municipality and that it is a pioneer experience”.

The novelty of the initiative is that the citizens have  spoken using their mobile phones. An application available on the Google Play and Apple Store platforms allowed the users to see on the screen of their smart phones how the parks would look like in the chosen locations. The Council of Gordexola proposed several options: Ibargutxi, the municipal swimming pool, the pedestrian walkway in the Zubiete area, the Jose Antonio Garay plaza – near the health center and the frontón- and in the surroundings of the old slaughter house.

The realistic simulation has been produced thanks to the combination of two technological formulas, image recognition and GPS location features. The participants were able to test how the device automatically detects a photograph of the place and superposes the 3D model on the phone screen. Using location it was possible to experience a different effect, when the user moved the phone and looked towards the position of the plan, the 3D model appeared on the screen.

For those less familiar with new technologies, the Council of Gordexola offered the possibility of traditional paper voting in a ballot box located in the town hall.

At this point in time, there is no plan set to repeat an experience of this type soon in Gordexola, but the people are quite happy with the initiative and have expressed that they would be pleased with having more chances to give their opinion in the future, using their mobile devices, due to the low effort needed to do so.

After the participation period was closed, it was the moment for the decision makers to make use of the feedback received from citizens. At the end of December the parks were built following the preferences shared by citizens of two small parks, one in the surroundings of the municipal swimming pool and another one near the Zubiete walkway.

The Council is very pleased with the result, people seem to be happy with the installations and it is having a high level of acceptance. The next steps now are the follow up by the health department of the use of the outdoor sports equipment, and the inclusion of information of interest about healthy lifestyles, walkways and recommendations on the municipal web page. The regular use of the equipment will be prescribed by the doctor and nurse in Gordexola to those patients who visit them and they consider could benefit from using the health parks.

This initiative in sum can be considered a best practice of citizen e-participation for a plan which started as a citizen initiative, has benefitted from e-participation and the synergies created, receiving a financial aid by the Basque Health Department, and finally become a reality with the installation of the equipment in two health parks.


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Tecnalia has presented Smart Mobility Lab, a service that supports the design of new ITS solutions based on a singular infrastructure that allows quick prototyping of intelligent traffic management applications and systems in urban and suburban areas. An example of the solutions that Smart Mobility Lab can offer is the new mobile application SML, available on Android and Blackberry, which receives the traffic information from the basque roads real-time: accidents, congestion, weather information and traffic cameras.

This information is sent personalized, sending only the data from the area that the user selects: the commonly taken routes or the area surrounding the current position each moment.

The application allows the configuration of the type of alerts that will be received (accidents, jams, construction work, etc.) and the level from which to start receiving the alerts (slow, stopped, etc.). The notices can be visual or with sound, and you can also receive the alerts by email.

The system is designed to optimize the data that is consumed and the use of battery as the user moves.

 


hitachiHitachi Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. and Frost & Sullivan jointly hosted the Social Innovation Forum in Berlin on 15th November 2014. The Forum has examined the impact that Social Innovation will have on businesses, governments, societies and, ultimately, on our lives. It will took place at the Adlon Kempinski Hotel, in a year that marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Hitachi Europe has been hosting the Forum in Germany for the first time, following successful Forums in Poland and Turkey. Last year, ten Hitachi Group Companies will take part in the event and have been incorporated four live panels as well as an exhibition of leading-edge technologies and products including ultrasound systems, optical topography devices and its latest data storage platforms.

As part of the Keynote agenda, attendees had been able to hear more from Hitachi, SMEs, public stakeholder and professional groups based in Berlin and their focus on Social Innovation Business. Frost & Sullivan will also discuss the types of global Mega Trends which are arising in today’s society and the impact this will have on the future. Live+Gov representatives have been following the panel on urban mobility. 

Urban Mobility: The Future of Mobility

The global surge in urbanization and the development of megacities continue to strain resources. Personal urban mobility is one of the major challenges, which needs to be addressed by both the public and private sector because of its impact on the economy, environment and quality of life. For these reasons, the mobility sector is on the brink of a paradigm shift. Conventional thinking is increasingly losing its relevance within this rapidly changing context. However,  one of the key findings of the panel was that stakeholders urging for less revolutionary solutions and aiming for evolutionary products providing change for the mobility sector. In that respect, presentation of the Live+Gov use case results from Helsinki have been useful for the discussion among the panel participants.


lituThe mobility use case trial was set up in the Helsinki region during fall 2014 with around one hundred voluntary test users. The four week trial period was seen successful and provided the consortium with valuable feedback and insights from the users for the development needs of the prototype.

Based on the raised interest towards mobile enhanced data collection of citizen movements through Live+Gov project and the trials, mobile technology was utilized also in a widespread travel survey conducted by HSL in Helsinki metropolitan area during October and November 2014.  The feasibility and usability of a mobile data collector in supporting the data collected in the survey was tested through a specially developed mobile application for tracking participant movements.

In the survey participants had the possibility to choose from using the application, answering through web-survey tool or providing answers over a phone interview. In the previous travel surveys only phone interviews have been used as a survey tool, but encouraged by the Live+Gov project, new methods for an easier data collection was seen useful to be tested. Based on the first impressions after the survey, the developed tools were seen as modern, powerful and interesting addition to the survey method and the developed tools are planned to be further developed for wider coverage in the future surveys.


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Usually when somebody wants to upload content in Augmented Reality (AR) browsers he/she might think that has to learn a new software, new concepts, and a new way of thinking in general (perhaps in the back of his/he mind may think that a painful task like programming is involved and the terror begins). Well, why not inversing the whole process and fit the process of publishing content to what the user already knows, like a Content Management System (CMS) let ‘s say. Even people that are not familiarized with programming like bankers or military personnel know how to put content in a site through the CMS either from the front-end (web-site) or from the back-end (administrator portal).

FastAR promises to upgrade your CMS to an AR-Server that it is connected with the major AR browsers. So, whatever you have in your CMS, it is also in the AR browser too. Someone will say “-Ok, but how FastAR knows what to publish from my article in the CMS to the AR browser?, I have several images and I want to select the one that it is going to be AR browser.”- You are right, FastAR doesn’t know

the title, the icon, the description, and the weblink that should be published in AR among the vast amount of data in your article. Here is where other components fit to provide a structured storing of similar objects. Some of you might have heard Sobipro, K2, VirtueMart, Woocommerce and others.

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They give structure for your data, e.g. if you want to write an article for a store, you should have to provide data in a form with certain fields, e.g. name, web-site, telephone, short-description, opening hours, image 1, image 2, etc. So instead of an unstructured article you have a structured object with certain fields. Another curious person might ask “How to publish my collection of insects into AR?

Do the aforementioned components have fields for insects’ wingspan and mating seasons?” –Well, no, but they offer you the option to make a new section with a name let’s say “My insects inventory” and create the fields that you mention. When you finish, FastAR automatically inserts your section in a list of content sources for AR exporting (AR Exporters), but it does not know if you wish to export in AR the wingspan or the mating-season of your insects. You should provide them by editing your AR Exporter.

Someone will say, “Is that all?” –No, there is one step more, but do not afraid it is not programming involved. You should register to the AR Vendor where the pipeline of your CMS should be connected to the pipeline of the AR browser. FastAR automatically provides you the url link to copy-paste it to the AR Vendors site, so as to close the pipeline. So that’s  the whole idea.  Well, we cannot yet support every CMS and structure imposing component on earth. We can’t also force AR Vendors to provide through API’s and for free all of their goodies. The following table summarizes the features that are supported for free from AR Vendors:

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*:without intermediate tools, paying processes or any intermediate step in general

The following features are supported from FastAR

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The following CMS and structure imposing components are supported or planned to be supported from FastAR

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We need your support! Try our component, and fill the questionnaire in the site http://arexporter.mklab.iti.gr/


The Urban Planning field trial has already been launched for the people of Gordexola to be able to participate in a municipal decision with their smart phone. Information about the initiative has been sent out to all of the households in Gordexola so that all of the citizens have notice about this field trial. Those neighbors who are interested in participating using their smart phone can do so by accessing the app stores for iPhone and Google, where they can easily find it by searching for Gordexola.

This field trial is a pilot experience within the Live+Gov European project, within the 7th Framework programme, which brings citizens and administration closer in Gordexola with the collaboration of the Local Council of Gordexola with the BiscayTIK Foundation, one of the partners in the project.

By means of a smart phone and the applications developed in the project the people of Gordexola can share their preferences and opinion about the plan to install health parks in the town. This way of participating is comfortable for the citizens who are able to do so at any time and from any place. At the same time the applications offer technological novelties such as augmented reality and location features that make the visualization of plans easier to understand for everyone.

Citizens can walk around town and when they open the application and are in the area of a plan the app offers the view of the health park using augmented reality. The app also allows users who are not necessarily near the selected points to view the future park superposed over the photo of the area which they can find on posters or on the municipal website.

At the end of October this initiative will be presented at a monthly event organized by the Basque Health Department in Gordexola.

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deiaOn the 25th of September the General Manager of the BiscayTIK Foundation, and partner of the Live+Gov project, presented the project and the applications developed for citizen mobile e-Participation within the presentation of the work of the Foundation.

This discussion took place in the II Deia Digital Media Encounter, organized by this newspaper that has a great reach, and prior to the ceremony of the Deia Awards to the Best Digital Initiatives. The BiscayTIK Foundation was also part of the jury for these prizes.

This space was a meeting point for professionals and experts in the area that shared their experience about the use of the net, not only for leisure, but also for interacting with the public administrations and for entrepreneurship, as well as the importance about being cautious when surfing the web.

The General Manager of BiscayTIK was in charge of speaking about the use of internet to bring citizens and administrations closer. The audience that gathered for the event counted with many university students that were presented with the Live+Gov mobile e-participation initiatives and developments, within the presentation given by BiscayTIK. This included a description of how by means of the use of augmented reality and smartphone features the apps developed within the project give the word to citizens who can participate in public affairs and in local decision making.

Although the applications are prototypes for the field trials inside this project, it is undeniable that this type of tools will become a standard soon and that today´s youth will adopt their use easily and naturally as mobile technology is part of their everyday.


mobile_visualResearchers from Information Technologies Institute (CERTH-ITI) have deployed support vector regression as a technique to model the performance of a visual recognition model based on the quality and the quantity of its training samples. More specifically, starting from a classifier which was trained on an initial set of images, the regressor can predict whether the addition of user tagged images can boost the performance of the initial classifier. The regressor takes into account both the quality of the new images that is hindered by the noise in their associated tags and the maturity of the existing model which can be saturated if the original training set is of large size already. The demonstrated experimental results look promising, as shown in the figure. Here, the performance prediction regressor is compared to various baselines. We can see that the proposed regressor (magenta line) performs much closer to the optimal upper baseline (red line) than using a random predictor.

This is particularly important in the content of the Live+Gov requirement for mobile visual recognition, as the end users can now more effectively and efficiently train their own visual recognition models, since they have the additional knowledge of how many images they need. This novel scientific work will be presented in one of the most prestigious conferences on image processing in the following October [1].

[1] E. Chatzilari, S. Nikolopoulos, Y. Kompatsiaris, J. Kittler. “How many more images do we need? Performance Prediction of bootstrapping for Image Classification.”, in the 21st IEEE International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP 2014), Paris, France, October 27-30, 2014.


SpaceAppCampTwo members of the Live+Gov project, namely Dimitrios Ververidis and George Liaros, were qualified to visit the European Space Agency (www.esa.int) facilities in the Netherlands in order to be informed about the latest earth monitoring achievements. The agenda of the training, named as SpaceAppCamp, started in 4 of May with the presentation of EGNOS and Copernicus programs. The following days were dedicated into presenting information for accessing the data, a tour in the exhibition of space missions, and a small programming competition in the end (12 of May).
During the SpaceAppCamp, the 20 qualified developers had to find and partially implement an idea for a mobile application that has potential financial interest for ESA. The developers were grouped into 5 teams where each team had to treat a certain area. Our team, joined with Michalis Vitos and Julia Altenbuchner from the University College of London (UCL), was to enhance an app that enables illiteral people of the rain-forests to report abuse of their territory such as illegal logging. The app was initially developed by UCL. The improvements made during SpaceAppCamp were the recording of paths in the forest and the submition of the paths to a back-end web portal as it is seen in the Figure. The app is named as Sapelli, the name of a special tree. The financial aspect of Sapelli is that NGO’s can use it to validate the reports of local communities of Africa about illegal logging and territory interferences. The maps used were the Google maps enhanced by the latest radar image of Sentinel 1. This camp was an excellent opportunity for Live+Gov members to exploit the expertise that has been developed in the project (in terms of turning simple citizens into the living sensors of their city/territory) for developing a mobile app that makes smart use of the high-quality content offered by ESA.