Systemic Standardisation Approach to Empower Smart Cities and Communities

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Over the next decade, the way we live, work and use energy, transportation and other city resources and services will change significantly thanks to a range of innovative ‘Smart City’ solutions. A Smart City integrates physical, digital and human systems to deliver a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens. Many of these innovative solutions will be based on sophisticated information and communication technologies. However, technological complexity, as well as the complexity of the various sectorial services involved within a Smart City, require a system approach to standardisation. Such an approach must promote the greatest possible reuse of existing open standards to accelerate Smart City deployment and exploit the enormous potential deriving from use of disparate interoperable technologies and from re-use of interoperable applications and services among cities.

In an effort to leverage the promise of a system approach, ESPRESSO will focus on the development of a conceptual Smart City Information Framework based on open standards. This framework will consist of a Smart City platform (the “Smart City enterprise application”) and a number of data provision and processing services to integrate relevant data, workflows, and processes. The project will build this framework by identifying relevant open standards, technologies, and information models that are currently in use or in development in various sectors. The project will analyse potential gaps and overlaps among standards developed by the various standardisation organizations and will provide guidelines on how to effectively address those shortcomings.

Although “horizontal” interoperability is outside the scope of ESPRESSO, preferences will be given to “common denominator” solutions that can facilitate horizontal interoperability between the various sectors of a Smart City. In fact, emphasizing integration of reference models as a common denominator (e.g. in the form of multi-dimensional city models) will lay essential parts of the foundation for future levels of interoperability.

Based on a detailed requirements-engineering campaign executed in close cooperation with cities, standardisation organizations, administrative bodies, and private industry, the project will identify open standards matching the elicited requirements and will establish a baseline for interoperability between the various sectorial data sources and the Smart City enterprise application platform. In a comprehensive set of coordination, support and networking activities, the project will engage a very large number of stakeholders, such as Smart Cities (both existing and those with aspirations), European Standardisation Organizations (ESOs), National Standardisation Bodies (NSBs), Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), public administrations, industries, SMEs, and other institutions.

ESPRESSO’s approach emphasizes cost reduction and will foster an open market for many actors, avoiding lock-in to proprietary solutions. European Smart City solutions that adopt these prescripts will be raised to the forefront worldwide.

The primary ESPRESSO objectives can be summarized into four classes, (1) the Smart Cities information framework, (2) shared semantics and vocabularies, (3) a communication ecosystem, and (4) market enablement and dissemination. These four classes aggregate a number of objectives:

  • ·       A case study-based approach to define key requirements for Smart Cities as the baseline for further standard analysis activities and development of the conceptual Smart City information framework.
  • ·       The development of a conceptual Smart City Information Framework to be built around CityGML as a reference data model and encoding with data services to integrate and process data efficiently in Smart City enterprise applications. On top of this conceptual framework, the project will map current standards, in line with potential actions from other European plans and guideline documents. Particular emphasis will be on the development of framework components that allow the integration of geo-located data, as location information is a major enabler of Smart City technology benefits.
  • ·       A communication ecosystem to allow tight interaction between all participants in Smart City initiatives and activities, serving as a dialogue platform facilitating the exchange of information and experiences. Particular attention will also be paid to strong involvement of NSBs to ensure both collection of requirements and downstream adoption of standards at a national level during later project phases.
  • ·       Creation of shared semantics through the establishment of open and shared vocabularies to foster linking data and metadata.
  • ·       Standards analysis activities to identify strengths and weaknesses of existing and currently developed standards. This process will include activities for quality criteria definition and integration into legislative processes and workflows as well as fast-track standardisation suggestions. It will be based upon analysis of standards priorities and will be performed in tight cooperation between standards bodies and Smart Cities.
  • ·       Integration of research projects in the domain of standards and Smart City sectors and overall architectures; includes, most notably, SCC-1 projects.


ESPRESSO’s system approach is based on 7 general objectives, each aggregating a number of specific objectives and each corresponding to a work package. The general objectives are as follows:

  1.  Creation of a “Smart City stakeholder community” involving a large pool of user groups for the definition of requirements (in terms of interoperability potential, openness and reference implementation) and for later assessment of acceptance of the identified standards (in technical, administrative, economic and social terms). This goal, which will be addressed in WP1, will involve a community of industries cities and communities, including those contributing to the SCC-EIP, ESOs (i.e. CEN, CENELEC, ETSI), Standard Developing Organisations – SDOs (e.g. OGC, ISO, ETSI, etc.), technology developers, professional organisations, etc. Particular attention will be paid to liaising and cross-fertilizing with other initiatives including SCC-1 projects through partners involved in both activities, e.g. DIN and FRAUNHOFER. The integration of a wide set of stakeholders ensures requirements-driven interoperable system design and reduction of time to market for Smart City solutions, therefore fostering an opening of the market to multiple actors.
  2. Definition of a Smart City interoperability framework based on key reference cases and sectorial systems (in the context of WP2) to be identified by the cities participating in the “stakeholder community” and to be later assessed during real interoperability pilots at those designated city locations. These assessments will ensure matching market requirements, helping cities acquire a front run position in the EU Smart City arena.
  3. Accelerate deployment and lower cost of standardisationin the domain of Smart City. To do so, ESPRESSO will map current standards onto the aforementioned interoperability framework, consequently highlighting gaps and overlaps in current standards landscape (WP3). These gaps will be used to identify cross-SDO priorities and associated roadmaps. High priority requirements (as identified by cities) will be addressed through identification of new open standards. This will be complemented by a new fast-track user-driven standardisation process identified with involvement of the SDOs to help accelerate deployment of Smart Cities and Communities solutions by up-scaling existing processes and lowering costs of standards and products.
  4. Definition of a Smart City information framework. The framework will define a Smart City reference architecture that ensures vertical interoperability that will be further supported by common semantics based on shared vocabularies The framework, to be developed in the context of WP4, will be complemented by the creation of a Smart City information and indication portal, a reusable set of tools to be used by cities to assess their degree of “smartness” against a set of commonly acknowledged indicators (leveraging on existing standards, e.g. ISO 37120 Sustainable Development of Communities: Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life). The framework will be eventually tested in the context of interoperability experiments to be carried on with the active involvement of selected cities in the context of the scenarios and sectorial systems identified in WP2. The development of best practices, general recommendations and important constraints for certification programs complement the activities of WP4. The Smart City information framework will serve as an essential component for Smart City information gateways to move European cities to the forefront worldwide.
  5. The creation of business framework for Smart City standards-based technologies is the general objective of WP5. To do so, ESPRSSO will develop a strategic growth map and analyse existing and emerging economical, financial and procurement models that can be applied to various sectorial services. The promotion of additional market-opening activities and the creation of training material will further support business development.
  6. Understanding the legal, social, and economic impact of the actions proposed and developed by ESPRESSO. To do so, WP6 will include dedicated activities for the assessment of legal, social and economic impact of the actions proposed; complemented by measuring and analysing preliminarily available ex-post implementation evidence form the pilots in WP4.
  7. Dissemination and creation of awareness for project results is the key objective that will be pursued in WP7, together with the development of lecture material, best-practice examples and a roadmap for leveraging standards in the Smart City context in Europe and beyond.