Smart Transformation Forum 2016 - The next challenge for mankind?
In the context of the "fourth industrial revolution" that everyone is talking about these days, The Diplomat - Bucharest organised the "Smart Transformation Forum 2016" to see how the concepts of "smart city" and "Internet of Things" are being perceived on the local market.
By Petre Barac
Romania is still trying to figure out the following moves that need to be made on this big challenge that the whole world is now facing. Although there are many things to do in terms of legislation, some local authorities have managed to show us good examples of smart cities in Romania, such as Alba Iulia, Oradea or Piatra Neamt and as a result, put some pressure on Bucharest. These are the main conclusions of the first edition of the Smart Transformation Forum 2016 organised in late September by The Diplomat - Bucharest.
The elite event was supported by The Diplomat partners that include platinum partners - CEZ Group, gold partners - ETA2U, Orange, Teamnet, Uber; and partners - ACUE (Federation of Associations of Energy Utility Companies), AFEER (The Association of Electricity Suppliers in Romania), AMR (Romanian Cities Association), ANIS (Employers Association of the Software and Services Industry), ARIES (Romanian Association for Electronics and Software), ARPEE (Romanian Association for Energy Efficiency), EY, and Champollion.
The conference was structured into two sessions. The first panel was moderated by Carmen Adamescu, partner, EY - Advisory Director for IT services, and the second one by Ovidiu Demetrescu, president Board Council, ARBA (Romanian Association for Good Administration). The Diplomat - Bucharest presents next the main topics of the Smart Transformation Forum 2016 that bring to attention the evolution of smart city concept in Romania and specific solutions to improve its development.
FIRST SESSION: SMART CITIES - EUROPEAN CONTEXT, STRATEGIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
"We want to develop a guide to classify the concepts of smart city"
"We had several meetings with the local communities and our colleagues from the cabinet because we feel that these smart city projects are very important especially for our citizens," said Horatiu Anghelescu, Secretary of State, Ministry of Communications, in the opening of the first panel.
"We count on the support of our colleagues from the Ministry of Development, Ministry of European Funds and the Ministry of Internal Affairs," declared Anghelescu.
He also said that the Ministry of Communications has a key role in this matter. "That's why we want to develop a guide to classify the concepts of smart city and the future local smart communities. These local communities should be the engine, the organizer of smart communities, by integrating the companies. We hope that this guide will be available by year-end and our efforts will help the communities, the integrators and the investors."
"We see enormous potential in the IT communities of the cities"
Radu Puchiu, Secretary of State, Government of Romania said that there is a huge amount of public data that is not exploited and should be opened and used in smart city applications like other countries do.
"In the UK there is an app ′Why live here?′. It takes all the data from public areas of a city - bus stops, crime rates, environment, etc. - and makes a score of city areas according to these criteria," said Puchiu.
"It's a win-win situation for the citizens and the city hall, because there will be a map with relevant information accessible effortlessly, by opening the data. The local authorities can see the vulnerable areas of the cities and choose where to invest. We see enormous potential in the IT communities of the cities and these people want to get involved. We just have to open the door for them."
"We should see that everything smart is also good"
The future of this technological challenge belongs to integrated solutions for all public utilities, according to Corina Popescu, Secretary of State, Ministry of Energy.
"I think we can have great benefits if we are more active and try to see what other countries achieve when they are developing or using these new technologies," said Popescu.
"We talk about low-carbon technologies, innovative energetic solutions and how to achieve the targets that every country set up for 2020.
The smart city concept isn't something new. Smart cities are those cities who have decided to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent until 2020. I would be glad to see that Bucharest has a program like this. There are many things to do in the energy business. We talk about mobility, electric cars, electric heating."
According to Corina Popescu, we should also see that everything smart is also good.
"There are energy efficiency solutions, but unfortunately this concept is not very popular in Romania because we expect short-term results," said Popescu. "I believe that the human factor is very important when talking about ′smart city′ and we should get young people to join us in these projects. They are the future and are capable of dealing with such technologies. They can always bring something new into this area."
"Digitalization is a vital engine of economic development"
The digitalization of society and bringing the digital age into Romania is a matter of strategic choice, according to Emil Calota, vice president, National Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE).
"The option of Romania for the period 2020-2030 should be well defined and answer the following four questions: What are the national targets for the digitalization of the economy and society? How do we support the start-ups in this area? What is the existing/ required infrastructure - support for digitalization? How are the universities adapted to the digital transformation?" said Calota.
Studies show that digitalization is a vital engine of economic development, ensuring economic growth, jobs, innovation development and ultimately, a better standard of living. "We have talked about energy efficiency as an objective and the realistic approach of such a programme," added Calota.
According to him, the population is the largest consumer when it comes to the final energy consumption in Romania.
"Romania has the lowest amount of primary energy consumption in the European Union, almost two times lower than the EU average in 2014. Over 42 per cent of the Romanian population is included in a "fuel poverty" category meaning they have problems when they have to pay their monthly utility bill."
"The only chance of developing Romania is to urbanize it"
Robert Negoita, president of the Romanian Cities Association, spoke about the challenges and the achievements in this field, including low quality of public services in rural areas and the need for investment and regulation in order to urbanize those areas, but also the need for digital education and progress in schools.
"Almost half of the population lives in villages. The only chance of developing Romania is to urbanize it," said Negoita.
"All major cities, especially Bucharest, are at a big disadvantage because Romania is not handled quite right. A quarter of the GDP is produced in Bucharest and the rest goes into the country. That is how we lose our money. We spend it on empty villages, because nobody lives there anymore. How is that a smart country? We could use that money to make gyms for the schools in the cities."
Negoita declared that we need more serious regulations. "′Smart city′ means that we must also find solutions for abandoned buildings and lands. We need thermal rehabilitation programmes because we are wasting a lot of energy. I believe this should be a national priority to attract European funds for the thermal rehabilitation in the cities."
"Lawmakers in Romania must meet the business needs"
Romania had the courage to implement a very popular international standard, the one to make data available to any interested person who may develop applications of any kind, said Ovidiu Trascu, head of IT Solutions, Teamnet Group. In his opinion, lawmakers in Romania must meet the business needs.
"We see now that the business environment has a delay in developing those applications that use data which could make our lives easier. Technology is way ahead of Romanian laws and this legislation stops us from achieving innovative things, although those technologies already exist."
"Local authorities want a decentralization"
Everyone in the local public administration wants a decentralization, especially when it comes to the budgets, said Nicolaie Moldovan, city manager, Alba Iulia.
"We really want the central authority to come in as our support and not against us. Since 2013, we are the first city in Romania to have an evaluation of our budgetary policy, incomes and spending policy because we want to be transparent and attractive for potential investors."
Nicolaie Moldovan, city manager of Alba Iulia, gave an example of best practice investments that have been made in Alba Iulia so the city can become a smart one.
"Alba Iulia is a good example for all urban areas in Romania, especially for Bucharest. We invested around 150 million Euro in the past seven years," said Moldovan.
A lot of projects were made for improving the infrastructure and mobility, functional restoration of Alba Iulia Citadel, green energy investments and sustainability for public and residential buildings, integrated waste management and thermal rehabilitation.
SECOND SESSION: INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) AND SMART NETWORKS
"We can imagine future cities with autonomous cars"
Internet of Things will change the way we communicate, according to Catalin Marinescu, president, National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications (ANCOM). In his opinion, we need to learn to adapt to these changes.
"Just think about autonomous cars. We can imagine future cities with such interconnected cars," said Marinescu.
He added: "IoT changes everything about regulation and we need to have a different approach not only about communication but also of consumers or copyrights. Flexibility helps us adapt to technological change. Is Romania ready to implement smart city? Just look at the statistics. We have a very good quality internet, which in some cities is the best in the world but we also have low penetration level on broadband."
"We want to get into the top ten software companies in the world, in the next four years"
When talking about the Internet of Things, we think about an association between the physical and digital infrastructure, according to Cristian Colteanu, General Electric & CEO Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova.
He said that challenges such as developing competitiveness and creating technological solutions that bring added value can be applied in Central and Eastern Europe. "We want to get into the top ten software companies in the world, in the next four years. We are facing three problems in the energy industry: the energy security, the environmental impact and sustainable development of the economy. The Internet of Things can help us solve these problems."
In order to respond to the energy market challenges, GE expects to become a 15 billion USD software business in four years, which would make the company one of top ten software companies worldwide.
The modernization of industry is the biggest opportunity that exists today. Just one per cent efficiency gains could equate to more than 150 billion USD saved annually for industries like energy, transportation, and healthcare.
"We need a strategic vision regarding the development of smart territories"
Florin Popa, business to business director, Orange, had a presentation about smart territories, a concept he finds more important than smart city.
"Our vision is that we must allow embedding standards that combine infrastructures," said Popa. "We have the challenge to attract funds and resources for the sustainable development of geographic territories, in order to protect the environment and to improve the lives of citizens, especially as urban areas grow very much. It requires a shift from small projects with little impact to a strategic vision regarding the development of smart territories. Meanwhile, there is growing demand over how we monitor public areas, how resources are consumed, or how we allow data access to all those interested."
"Our legislative issues will be gone if we have the following approach: If it's not forbidden, then it's allowed. Unfortunately, we work the other way around"
Internet of Things is considered to enable the fourth industrial revolution by interconnecting the physical, digital, cyber and virtual worlds, according to Stelian Campianu, executive director, ETA2U.
"One day everything will be interconnected through the internet," said Campianu. "This evolution will attract innovation and therefore is said to be the fourth industrial revolution. For example, by 2020 it is estimated that over 25 per cent of cars will be connected to the internet. Currently there are ten billion devices connected to the Internet, and estimates show that the number will reach 50 billion by 2020, with at least eight devices for each person."
Campianu spoke about Low Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies that are designed for machine-to-machine (M2M) networking environments., LPWANs are thought to be the technologies that will enable a wider range of M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which have been constrained by budgets and power issues until now.
LoRaWAN is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated things in regional, national or global network. LoRaWAN targets key requirements of IoT such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services. This standard will provide seamless interoperability among smart Things without the need of complex local installations and gives back the freedom to the user, developer and businesses, enabling the roll out of Internet of things applications.
"For a smart city we need three entities to work in the same direction: the community, the authorities, and those who make the regulations." said Campianu. "Our legislative issues will be gone if we have the following approach: ′If it's not forbidden, then it's allowed′. Unfortunately, we work the other way around."
"We begin to see things from different perspectives and this helps us to make progress"
"The business is changing and I'm delighted that together we′ve managed to get a few observations," said Vornicu, executive director and member of the Directorate, CEZ Romania at the beginning of her presentation.
"We begin to see things from different perspectives and this helps us to make progress," said Vornicu.
"Our power distribution company understands to go through a set of technical, digital and organizational transformations to bring the customer into the centre of our activity. We rethought the structure of processes and the way of doing our activities so that the clients will enjoy these benefits."
According to Doina Vornicu, CEZ Romania has invested nearly 100 million Euro in five years in an ambitious project of transforming the company into a modern one. "We have a young and ambitious team that I trust. I believe this will be a success of a Romanian company," said Vornicu.
"The smart city story for IBM began in 2008 when, for the first time, the smarter planet concept was pronounced"
The smart city story for IBM began in 2008 when, for the first time, the smarter planet concept was pronounced, an initiative to develop systems and solutions allowing the entire globe to become more intelligent, according to Andrei Nagy, enterprise account manager, IBM.
"The main motivation was the awareness of this data stream that was accelerated due to interconnection mechanisms," said Nagy. "We humans are not able to analyze in real time all the information we receive through various mobile devices. Then we ask ourselves how we can overcome this barrier and what are the solutions we can build. The answer is Cognitive IoT, meaning from our perspective three very important things. First, these systems must be able to understand information that comes from different sources. After that, we must reach the stage of reasoning. The third and perhaps most important is the ability of systems to learn."
"These smart technologies should be used to educate people, not ajust bomb them with information"
On this Smart Transformation subject one can say that one knows everything or nothing, according to Dacian Palladi, city manager, Oradea.
"Besides being a fusion of technologies that impact all things, one can speculate anything," said Palladi. "This year at Davos, at the World Economic Forum, various presidents, scientists and researchers have gathered to answer the next question: How to embrace the fourth industrial revolution without getting hurt as a species? Some say that the other revolutions hurt us because we got into a situation where one per cent of the world population owns more than half of its richness. Since last year, China has 12 million millionaires. The forum in Davos has not ended in an optimistic spirit, because we identified a great danger. Although smart technologies can be a way of enriching and enhancing the quality of life, it can also be a very serious factor of worsening inequalities between individuals. In the end, the answer to the earlier question was ′we do not know′. If they do not know, how can we know anything?"
Palladi thinks that these smart technologies should be used to educate people, not just bomb them with information, so that they can become active elements of the society, based on honesty.
"A smart city is primarily about people"
"We made a guide for local authorities who want to step on the road to a smarter city," said Bogdan Puscasu, city manager, Piatra Neamt.
"It was a one-year project to elaborate the guide and to make it available for all local councillors. Unfortunately, in Romania we still have a misperception about smart city. Mayors must understand that such an investment is needed in the community and for the future of our children."
According to Bogdan Puscasu, a smart city is primarily about people. He asked the City Council to adopt a public statement called Piatra Neamt 2020 - Smart City, which also contained the vision. The statement was adopted unanimously.
The "Connected World Technology" report published in 2011 showed that 33 per cent of high school students and young workers in the United States believed that "the Internet is as important as air, water, food and shelter."
"Smart city project implemented for Bucharest"
Petrut Popescu, an engineer specialised on energy efficiency, has presented a smart city project implemented by Luxten Lightning Company for Bucharest. The project was called Technology Hub & Hot Spot - Union Park and was implemented in May 2015. The objectives were focused on improving the urban aesthetics, energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. The project also involves a smart system for managing, monitoring and controlling the lighting system. "Last year in Bucharest, we implemented the largest LED technology project in South-eastern Europe, in partnership with EBRD," said Popescu.