Telefónica I+D will lead SmartSantander, a European project aimed at making the city of Santander the first Smart City in Europe. The project relies upon the Telefónica network capacities, and Telefónica will provide other services beyond mere connectivity. The first practical applications of this project – which was just officially presented to the city – will become available in June 2011.
Telefónica I+D will head SmartSantander ("Planning a smart city"), a European project which was just officially presented on the university campus at Las Llamas. The presentation was made by important political and academic figures from Cantabria, along with Telefónica I+D.
Telefónica I+D, along with the other individuals and organisations participating in the project, is pioneering a new concept of SmartCity which has ten times the capabilities of any currently existing SmartCity.
The project, which will make Santander Europe’s first fully-equipped smart city, relies on Telefónica’s network capacities. Telefónica will also provide services beyond connectivity.
In addition to leading and coordinating the project, Telefónica I+D will also provide the PIAm environmental intelligence platform, in its capacity as provider of additional M2M services. A set of tests will be available for early-phase testing of future services for businesses and end users.
The application of test results will mean considerable improvements in the quality of life for Santander residents, as it will open access to pioneering and highly useful services in areas such as environment, traffic, public transit, noise and pollution control, climatology, and social and health services.
SmartSantander has a budget of 8.67 million euros, and it is financially supported by the E.C. through the VII Research Framework Program, which makes the project unique.
The project is shaped by 15 collaborators, both businesses and other institutions. These collaborators include major businesses such as Telefónica, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, along with universities in Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Australia.
Also collaborating and supporting the initiative are the Town Hall of Santander and the Industry and Technological Development Department of the Government of Cantabria. The latter will contribute half a million euros through SODERCAN in order to supply 20,000 pieces of tech equipment including (sensors, cameras, mobile terminals, etc.) throughout the province of Cantabria.
The European Commission chose Telefónica I+D to lead the project and Santander and Cantabria as sites for applying the project’s platform. The object is to make each city “an international reference in the area”, as stated by Federico Gutiérrez-Solana, dean of the University of Cantabria, during the official presentation of the project. The dean believes the project will help the university in its goal of becoming a Campus of International Excellence.
In the presentation of the initiative, the dean was accompanied by Juan José Sota, Industry and Technological Development advisor to the regional Government, Íñigo de la Serna , mayor of Santander, José Manuel Hernández-Muñoz, coordinator and technical manager of the project (and technical expert for Telefónica I+D), and Luis Muñoz Gutiérrez, professor of telematic engineering at the University of Cantabria. Also in attendance were Salvador Blanco, delegate counsellor for SODERCAN, José Manuel Revuelta, Assistant to the Dean for Governance, Organization and Planning, and Fermín Llaguno , regional director of de Telefónica in Cantabria, among other academics and local and regional authorities.
An innovative pioneer project in the EU
SmartSantander is a long-term project. The experts of Telefónica I+D and the Telematic Engineering Group at the University of Cantabria, in cooperation with the other collaborators, worked more than nine months to achieve economic backing from the European Union. With the funding approved, collaborators will begin to design the software which will support the SmartCity system. Initial services will become available in June 2011.
Citizens of Santander may at this point begin to use pioneer services which will offer a large amount of useful information, all based on the so-called Internet of the future or the “things” Internet. The network is formed by objects – mobile phones, sensors, cameras, actuators, etc. – which communicate from one to the other with the ever valuable collaboration of people, to carry out intelligent tasks: advise citizens through their mobile phones of the levels of allergens present in the air, calculate the water necessities of a community green zone, improve traffic and transportation services, etc.
In SmartSantander, citizens’ collaboration will be vital for sharing valuable data, such as the colour of the flags on beaches. In addition, the project will expand beyond the city limits to reach various points throughout the region. In the cultural sphere, services will be provided relating to points of cultural interest such as prehistoric caves in the province.
Telefónica’s commitment and social repercussions of the project
This pioneering initiative is a "social project", in the words of the Dean. "There will be an infrastructure open to the public which will give us absolute global visibility,” said Gutiérrez-Solana. Likewise, the Industries Advisor indicated that "the pioneering implementation of this technological infrastructure will benefit citizens and increase the community’s ability to attract talented researchers and innovators ".
The model formed by Santander will serve as a reference to the global scientific community on future development of the Internet and smart cities. The mayor emphasises that the initiative is based on culture and initiative. "I’m very excited, because this platform is unique in Europe. In addition, the project "involves the citizen, the resident of the city district, and this is what most attracts us in Town Hall". De la Serna likewise emphasised that real-time monitoring of Santander will change the capital into a “more vibrant and dynamic” city.
José Manuel Hernández-Muñoz, technology expert for Telefónica I+D, explained that the implementation of technology will be gradual: In the first stage, 2,000 devices will be installed, then 6,000 more, and finally the remaining 12,000. The key element in all of these monitoring and telecontrol points is their location throughout the entire city. Information will be available to any terminal connected to the Internet.
Hernández-Muñoz also pointed out that the initiative demonstrates Telefónica’s “commitment” to a technological society. He described the project as a "milestone on the European level" which other European countries would love to host in their territory. He spoke of a new "challenge": the challenge of leading teams of "whose scientific effectiveness has been proven on an international level", and of involving both the scientific community and “the people on the street". Lastly, he assured that "the project would not have been possible without the collaboration of institutions, because public-private cooperation "is the only possible formula for real development in an information society".
Lastly, Hernández-Muñoz concluded that Santander will serve as "guide and model" in a network of smart cities with more complex systems, the "embryo of a European growth model for the Internet of the future", and perhaps a model on the international level as well.