“Making life in cities more pleasant and sustainable, using everything that our technology has to offer, that is what Smart Cities is all about,” said Philippe Muyters, Flemish minister for the economy. “With imec’s expertise, we can build a smart city with an open, secure and scalable infrastructure. A smart city where everyone has the opportunity to develop ideas and work together to create the future of Antwerp and the Flanders region.”
Through imec, Flanders will invest €4 million annually in the City of Things project, in addition to the required project resources.
City of Things is a collaborative project between the City of Antwerp, Flanders and imec. The nerve center for this initiative is located at StartupVillage, the location from which imec also runs its Antwerp startup and incubation operations.
The City of Things project will roll out a fine-grained network of smart sensors and wireless gateways located around Antwerp’s buildings, streets, squares and other city objects. This network will connect the citizens with a whole range of innovative applications. Shortly, the seaport of Antwerp will also join the initiative, becoming an incubator for similar smart ideas.
“For the cities of tomorrow it’s all about the survival of the smartest,” said Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever. “Monitoring is the key to knowledge – so that’s exactly what we are going to do. Thanks to this unique collaboration, Antwerp is heading for a new golden age. In the coming years, the city will build a strong position in smart city technology, nationally and internationally.”
Imec has major ambitions. The Antwerp Living Lab is designed to grow into the largest living lab in Europe for Internet of Things applications. “Together with the City of Antwerp and Flanders, we have the ambition to become a leading player in the connected world,” says Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec. “The City of Things project allows us to join the city residents, developers, entrepreneurs, the government, and research centers and universities around one common goal: developing innovative solutions for better cities. Antwerp will become a living technology lab in which everyone can make a contribution to a sustainable, forward-looking society.”
The Antwerp Living Lab already has a number of projects up and running. These include vans operated by Bpost, the Belgian postal service, which have sensors to measure the air quality throughout the city. Another project involved the company Restore, measuring energy consumption in real-time and smoothing out usage spikes with the aim to ensure more efficient, cheaper energy production. The preparatory work on a host of other projects, e.g. concerning mobility, is underway.
In recent years, Antwerp has developed a blooming ecosystem of start-up businesses and growth companies involved in digital innovation. Currently, the city has more than 350 start-ups and 10 growth companies that have newly raised more than half a million euro capital, as well as nine incubators and accelerators, the StartupVillage, corporations such as Nokia, and an extensive international network.