1.0 Introduction

The world is pushed by a constant need of change and adjustment to ever growing competition. This need influences every aspect of people’s daily life, shaping the image of  current and future habitats and enabling the further economical evolution. Since last few decades the information and communication technology (ICT) has become a next step of this change, being a metamedium for all kinds of connections in public and private sphere. Nowadays more than 1 in 2 people use the internet around the world and between 2000 and 2017 this rate increased by 976,4% (cf. website UN Monitoring Global Population Trends 2017, n.d.).

Although for some the digitalisation is still rather a foreign notion, it has already become an important part of our daily lives, influencing our social relations, working culture, mobility and lifestyle. For instance, the most influential social media platform, Facebook, connects nowadays over 1,9 billion users worldwide and since 2004 has been changing the way people interact between each other (cf. Statista 2017). AirBnB, which started in 2008 from a simple idea of  renting mattresses in NY apartment as a cheap alternative to expensive hotel stays, extended to a popular flat-sharing concept, hosting 60 billion guests in 190 countries all around the world (cf. Airbnb 2017). The digital transformation enables also the growth of new knowledge streams and their stakeholder, giving an equal starting position, regardless the status and place. So raises the participation in open universities, massive open online courses (MOOC), live-streamed events and launch of kick-starters, making it possible not only to acquire knowledge but also to promote one’s products and exchange experiences.

Unfortunately, as digitalisation has been progressing, the adjustment of the city space to those changes stood behind, despite the fast pace of ongoing global urbanization. Most of spatial investments progress long, are very expensive, politically rather complicated and are not as flexible as the digital one, making the compatibility between an information and built environment often nonadjustable. And as the amount of incompatibility grows, the comfort and satisfaction of city’s users lowers, having an immerse impact on space’s further development and its competitiveness, especially in above-regional scale. The exact set of reasons always vary but  in most of the cases it regards the condition of technical and social infrastructure, governmental matters, economic profile as well as the general image of socio-spatial attributes (cf. Giffinger 2007: 10-11).

This emerges the importance of establishing a set of instruments which from one side would support the local government in agile adjustment to digital-to-spatial demands of city’s stakeholders and from other which would enable a participative development of the space ex gratia. As the cloud-based communication and data exchange platforms are already widely used, the so called Open Urban Information and Service Platforms (OUISP) like Urban Data Platform  (Morgenstadt Innovationsfelder, Frauenhofer Institut 2015), are the starting point for enabling the sustain information traffic and its further usage.

MC+ goes few step further: it creates an intelligent matrix of municipal’s goals, making them adjustable to ongoing urban changes. It also structures the traffic of open-data-flow between the governmental units and 3rd parties, giving not only a tool for legally formed communication but also a needed space for creativeness and freedom of choice.

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 Figure 1. MC+ logo (own graphic)

1.1 What is MC+

ModelCity+ is an agile, cloud-based form of an Integrated Urban Development Concept based on iterative and incremental design principals, known from software development methodologies.  It collects the goals set in the process of establishing the iUDC and consolidates them with four specified areas (here called: objectives) of Open Urban Data and Service Platform, while giving the government, citizens and companies a tool to cooperate between each other in order to adjust the built and digital environment to the real-time needs.

In simple words, it is a combination of a master plan with a digital platform, which assists the municipal units and 3rd parties (citizens, companies, NGOs etc.) during adjustment processes of the urban space to ever growing demands of digitalization. It also creates a democratic and transparent way of participating in change processes,  enables the exchange of (open) data with/between governments and establishes a dialog among all participants.

Each city is an individual construct and for that reason this publication describes only principal elements and ways of proceeding. It gives some ideas and use cases to show the bright functional spectrum of the project but it does not relate to any specific area.

Project characteristics:

  • it consists from four main elements:
    • integrated Urban Development Concept (shortform: iUDC), in Germany known as Integriertes Stadtentwicklungskonzept (shortform: ISEK),
    • Open Urban Information and Service Platform (shortform: OUISP),
    • General Objectives’ Matrix – an interface which transfers goals set in iUDC to the OUISP. In-between step created specifically for MC+;
    • four objectives: mobility, economy, governance and living space (for better understanding they are presented in this project in form of use cases);
  • the need of legal reinforcements and structural governmental redevelopment, especially considering data protection and privacy matters, is in this project undeniable – some of challenges and ideas are described in 4.3 in form of suggestions. Suitable case studies/references to case studies are gives in chapter 2.1.3.
  • the need of new structures in governmental/non-governmental is highlighted and provided with sufficient studies and examples of uses
  • because of the IT-related nature of MC+ and high implementation complexity a new development model needed to be consider. This is why the benefits of already known iterative and incremental development as well as new work and SCRUM principals were taken into account while considering the process of cooperation between all involved parties. Theoretical background and case studies are to be found in chapter 2.3.

1.2 Methodology and structure of the project

1.2.1 Order of chapters and their intentional discrepancy from a typical thesis

MC+ is structured very similarly to a typical master thesis, nonetheless with some reader-friendly adjustments. Those relate to theoretical researches which were put all together in one chapter (2.0) and not typically in separate ones. The same regards the use cases (4.0). The initial intention behind this difference was to adjust to the way of using a typical website where the menus are limited to minimum and therefore easy to use. Also some inversions in the sub-chapters’ order might be observed. This intentional discrepancy resulted from a pragmatic approach of presenting a project during pitches or business meeting, where the concept and its  matters are presented in the first place – their theoretical background afterwards. As readers of this website mostly look for some new ideas in the field of smart cities this slightly adjusted form of a master thesis was chosen as a the golden mean.

In general there are four chapters (11.02.2018) which might expand to a higher amount while the project will be progressing. All updated will be published on the home page.

  • 1.0 Introduction which gives a brief overview of the project;
  • 2.0 Theoretical Research which collects all the theory-based information to serve as a referable background to presented ideas. It contains also case studies from already working examples from all around the world which will be additionally posted on Smart City Blog;
  • 3.0 Core structure that shows in a great detail how does the system of MC+ is built, what are the specifications of its components and how they interact etween each other;
  • 4.0 Use Cases are strictly author’s ideas on diverse functions that can be implemented into the system.

1.2.2 Methodology

MC+ is based on an in-depth theoretical research, related to various literature sources, as well as an empiric and practical approach. As the project does not relate to any specific area but it aims to show possible use cases and business-model ideas, a more universal but still comprehensive way of analysis had to be found, in order to show the bright spectrum of benefits and situations in which MC+ can be used.

As mention in 1.2.1 there are four chapters, each of them corresponds to a specific matter. First of all, the project itself will be presented i order to give a brief input of the research’s structure and functions as well as present its aims and objectives. Here the key questions and hypothesis will be also presented.

Secondly, based on diverse literature sources and case studies the subject of smart cities, Open Urban Information and Service Platform, iterative and incremental development and SCRUM will be researched. It has to be noted that this section will expand within the time the project progress in order to background new use cases, core structure or alternative solutions for the MC+ system.

Then, the core structure of MC+, with all its components will be examined and described in a greater detail. Its base lays in interviews, cooperation with companies, NGOs and professionals as well as own, in-depth research – all to lay the foundation of the MC+ construct.

As the author has an architectural and urban planning background, any ideas, suggestions and critics are more than welcome! 🙂 

The fourth chapter collects author’s own ideas on how to implement the diverse services, functions and/or their compilations into the MC+ system. It is intentionally divided into four objectives which are also treated as phases of development of MC+ system (more about this matter: 3.0):

(1) mobility tackles, among others, the problematics of self-drive cars, eventual re-usage of the space left after lowering the amount of vehicles, new road code, digitalization of infrastructure. Mobility in this project is treated as a starting point in recreating the image of the city and approach to oncoming challenges of the global digital transformation;

(2) economy. Any middle to biggest scale venture or investment in the city space requires not only a sufficient budget but has also an impact on increasing amount of stakeholders interested in taking part in an undertaking. New businesses or business ideas/ models are generated, cooperation possibilities arise – this all influences the economical image of an urban area on private and public level, being both an opportunity and a challenge. MC+ interlinks concepts like mobility hubs, culture industries, new work inspired working environments or social inclusion with their economically reasonable outcomes and gives suggestions on how to choose a right services to current demands.

(3) governance concentrates on legal reinforcements and structural governmental redevelopment ideas. As the usage of open data increases, the question of data protection and privacy matters arise, especially in countries where laws regarding those rights are very restricted. In addition, in more bureaucracy-driven countries, like f.e. Germany, communication between public and private sector or even information exchange within the governmental structures performs on a limited basis, which aggregates the challenges’ scope in means of digitalization. On top of this, comes the great need of participation of citizens, companies, NGO’s etc in the redevelopment processes. Regarding above written, MC+ gives ideas on sustainable and more efficient communication and protection of data and personal rights. Without those interlinks most of the ventures and initiatives have only a little chance to succeed.

(4) living space reflects the outcome of wisely chosen solutions in all above written sub-clauses (1)-(3). This subject focuses on suggestions regarding important elements for sustain, resilient but also less stressful ad more healthy living. With help of professional assistance, researches and case studies from urban planning, architectural, environmental and psychological field a new idea for cities’ image will be suggested.

 

 1.2.3 MC+ core hierarchy and way of proceeding

It was important to create a concrete backbone of the whole concept, especially if its outcomes are so flexible and individually chosen as in MC+. The already mentioned in 1.1 three main elements serve individually different functions but together they merge the initial goal with the real-time solution (f.e. service), controlling and evaluating its use throughout the user experiences. Eventually the goal will be adjusted to the current need and a new or upgraded face of service will be provided (Fig.2).

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 Figure 2. Goal’s life cycle. For more see the chapter 3.0 (own graphic)

 

They shall be set in hierarchy given below. Each of them is described in greater detail in chapter 2.0.

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 Figure 3. MC+ core model hierarchy, here regarding the mobility (own graphic from a presentation for StartUp Live, Mobility and Logistics 17-18.11.2017)

 

(1)  integrated Urban Development Concept

It is an area-related planning and controlling instrument for municipal units, based on diverse (master) plans (organisation of new functions, mobility etc.), specified city-image model, professional analysis, results from participation processes and other features which resulted from long-term iUDC establishment process (cf. Daten BMU 2016: 9-10, trans.).

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 Figure 4. iUDC of City Würzburg (Baureferat der Stadt Würzburg/Schulten Stadt- und Raumentwicklung, Dortmund)

 

(2) Open Urban Information and Service Platform

OUISP is a cloud-based platform that collects area-related information and communication technology services and connects them with all the stakeholders. It encourages the exchange and use of open data in order to develop and operate more complex applications/services like real-time traffic analysis or convenient mobility offers (cf. Morgenstadt Systemlösungen 2015:4, trans.).

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 Figure 5. Urban Data Platform (Morgenstadt, Systemlösungen, FI)

 

(3) General Objectives’ Matrix is one of me most important part of the projects, as it creates a tool that transfers goals set in iUDC to the OUISP and monitors user experience in order to adjust to changing need.

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 Figure 6. Draft of General Objectives’ Matrix (own graphic from a presentation for StartUp Live, Mobility and Logistics 17-18.11.2017)

 

(4) four phases: mobility -> economy -> governance -> living space

For a better structure of goals, services and diverse use fields, four main objectives were classified. Those are tightly bound and result from one another, but city/stakeholders are free to choose their main focus.

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 Figure 7. four objectives of MC+ (own graphic from a presentation for StartUp Live, Mobility and Logistics 17-18.11.2017)

1.3 Key questions

The hey questions are grouped into four categories and correspond the strucure of MC+ objectives. Withing the project’s evolution their amount will expand (11.02.2018).

(1) mobility

  • Does the digital transformation influence the way the mobility function?
  • Is autonomous driving a future regarding high level of consumption in automotive field?
  • How the eventual changes in the transportation sector will influence the financial future of countries which main economical sector lays automotive field?
  • Can new mobility concepts impact our lifestyle? If yes, to what extend?

(2) economy

  • How do the future ventures and investments in the urban development may look like? Will digitalization have an impact on their costs and lead time?
  • How does the budget and/or the relations between the stakeholders influence the transformation of the urban space?
  • Where lays the boundary between government and 3rd parties in developement processes?
  • Does the digitalization impact the establishment of new companies and creation of business? Or is it only a short time economic bubble? What kind of business quality might it serve?

(3) governance

  • What kind of legal reinforcements and laws are needed in order to enable to digital transformation?
  • Where lays the interlink between the government and 3rd parties in means of exchanging and using open data? Where should be set the limits of this interaction?
  • How does participation processes affect the change within the urban space? How the digital transformation can improve them or challenge them?

(4) living space

  • What does the livable urban space in times of global digital transformation mean?
  • How does the information and communication technology impact the built space?
  • What challenges brings the globalization and rapid urbanization?
  • Are the matters of social exclusion part of the transformation? If yes, how does it mean for the process?
  • Is the digital transformation a thread to the environmental matters? Or can it improve the current state of green landscape?

1.4 Hypothesis

Through a consciously planned system, which combines city’s development goals with current IT solutions, a new fully digital and available for everybody urban tool can be created.