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Open Smart Cities I: Open Source Internet of Things

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"Open Smart Cities I" is the first post of a series of three that address, from the point of view of open source software, several technological areas related to Smart Cities, as the Internet of Things, Cloud, Big Data, or Smart Cities platform of services and applications. In this post, we make a brief review of the concept of Smart City, and introduce the topic of Internet of Things, wherein we explore the potential of open source technologies (software, hardware and standar).


Read this post in Spanish spain

Introduction: What Makes Cities Smart?

The EPIC Project (EU Platform for Intelligent Cities) in relation to the Smart City definition notes that the current economic crisis, combined with growing citizen expectations, is increasing the pressure on cities to provide better infrastructure and more efficient services, often for less cost. This trend has contributed to the growing popularity and use of the concept of "Smart City" whose definitions vary widely, ranging from the discreet use of new technology applications such as RFID and the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, to a more holistic conception of intelligence, integrating the work that is closely related to the concept of Living Labs and user-generated services. While the first definition is widely used by ICT companies, the second approach has been widely adopted by the European Commission. Since early 1995, the European Commission has attempted to improve government services, transactions and interactions with European citizens and businesses through the funding and deployment of a wide variety of strategic ICT initiatives1.

Meanwhile, the consulting Gartner in Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions 2 defines Smart City as “an urbanized area where multiple public and private sectors cooperate to achieve sustainable outcomes through the analysis of contextual information exchanged between themselves. The sectors could include hospitals or emergency services or finance and so on. The interaction between sector-specific and intra-sector information flows results in more resource-efficient cities that enable more sustainable citizen services and more knowledge transfer between sectors”.

Gartner says that what really matters when we approach the concept of Smart City, is how different sectors (not only the public sector) cooperate to exchange valuable information. In this process there are technology involved, but that is not enough to make cities smart. Cooperation requires strong governance and a roadmap which respect differences and potential divergences, and that takes into account business objectives and deadlines of the different stakeholders involved and the inevitable resource limitations affecting most urban areas3.

Cooperation and information exchange are both key ideas in the Smart City paradigm. Such ideas are shared with the open source movement. Open source software is a valuable source of technologies, applications and solutions for Smart Cities, offered in a culture of sharing and reusing.

There is a large number of open source technology in the whole technological value chain of the Smart City4: from data capture technologies, data transmission technologies, data storage and data analysis technology, to the service delivery platform and Smart City applications, we have available open source technologies.

In this article, we examine the open source technology that enables the implementation of smart city services. We have compiled a selection of the main solutions in the following fields of influence of the Smart City:

Of course, this is not an exhaustive and close list but an open and dynamic work. In this first article we will address the Internet of things and show a number of open source solutions in this area.

2. Open Source Internet of Things Technologies

The Internet of things is defined as the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment5.

How Telefónica Foundation noted in its latest report on Smart City6, in a technological context, the concept of Smart City and the Internet of things are two terms that go together, because both concepts have in M2M communications its foundation and both of them bring the Internet of the Future that would allow the connection not only people but also objects, shaping a digital world.

Technologies as M2M communications and cloud give to intelligent cities the ability to connect efficiently all elements of the city and collect information from them. What is done with that information, the use given to it, is what makes the difference between an intelligent city from another one.

The connected city produces a huge amount of information, which helps us make smart decisions and implement more and more efficient services. From this perspective M2M technology would allow citizens to control their lives and influence the city in various fields such as health, education, culture, energy. For example: Amsterdam Smart City Project has implemented Energy Supply 2. 0 [6] , a system that allows citizens to choose where to buy the energy, the way they produce their own energy from renewable sources, and if they want to sell it to their neighbors or not.

Just, Gartner, in its "Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions 2012", notes that in 2012 the Internet of Things has highlighted in areas like "Smart Gird", "connected cars", "connected home", the field of health, OT operational technology and the Smart City.

Further, Gartner places this technology as an emerging, with less than 1% penetration and estimates that it will take over 10 years for the Internet of Things expands, due to the challenge that issues such security, privacy policies, data standards and wireless networks represents, and the challenge for cities in urban planning services, applications and infrastructure connected.

The number of objects that are connected to the Internet will grow exponentially in the coming years. GSMA estimates that in 2020 there will be 24 billion connected devices, while Cisco and Ericsson say they will reach 50 billion7.

However, these estimates may be too conservative, because they are only considering the devices connected directly to the Internet, regardless of the peripheral devices that are designed to connect indirectly through the smartphone, Wi-Fi at home or work or other intelligent devices. We are therefore faced with an emerging technology, but with a great capacity viral.

The true value of the Internet of Things and its business impact lies in its applications, which ultimately are the translation of what it is decide to do with the large amount of information captured in the field of Smart City. In this sense, cities become smart through the deployment of intelligent infrastructure, composed for example of ubiquitous sensors that allow monitoring of municipal facilities, wireless systems that detect available parking spaces, or management systems for lighting or measuring atmospheric and environmental conditions, among others.

In case of the Smart City Smart Objects are the elements urban infrastructure and buildings, etc.. and generally anything that has to be managed or controlled. But we also found that the citizenship can be an active part of the Smart City, not only participating in the design of it, identifying needs, setting priorities and encourage efforts, but from the technological and information point of view, citizens can become themselves a human network of sensors, capturing, transmitting and receiving information through various technologies and devices, such as their Smartphones.

For the development of all these applications of the Internet of Things is necessary to develop a range of technologies and solutions. Free software plays an important role in this field, providing both hardware architecture and open source software, such as development environments, that allows the develoment of open source applications for the Internet of Things.

The relevance and the role that will be played both the open source software, and open standards in the Internet of Things will be double8: On the one hand, the variety of devices connected to the Internet makes impossible or very difficult, for any company or even a group of companies, write code for the millions of different systems that will be joining the Internet of Things. The only way this will work is if the code is open source, so that manufacturers and hackers, simply fit your favorite device. That is just what has happened with some of the most successful codes in the field of mobile phones. The other reason that gives an advantage to open source in the field of Internet of Things is the quiet revolution that has taken place in recent years, whereby large electronic companies in the world have adopted embedded Linux for their devices, for various obvious reasons, such as lower cost, reliability, customization capabilities, availability of tools, etc.

This means that open source code for the new Internet of Things will integrate more easily with them, as both parties are open (assuming you have compatible licenses, of course.) In practice we find many open source technologies that exemplify this. Below are the main examples in this field. Open Source Technologies for the Internet of Things: sensors, hardware, RDIF, M2M solutions and open source augmented reality.

2.1. Waspmote

Waspmote is a modular open source wireless sensor platform for building networks of sensors with very low consumption. Created by the Spanish company Libelium, the platform comprises: the Waspmote board with a microcontroller, memory, battery, accelerometer and sockets for adding modules, open source API and compiler; different radios of wireless communication through the Zigbee protocol with ranges up to 40 km; various communication modules to add optional Bluetooth, GPRS and GPS and a variety of sensor boards to measure gases, physical events and parameters required in smart metering. Waspmote uses the same IDE (compiler and major libraries) that Arduino (the same code is compatible with both platforms, just little things like adjusting the pinout diagram and E/S are needed).

Waspmote is a sensor device specifically oriented to developers. Currently there are over 50 available sensors and IDE (Libraries API + compiler) open source so it's really easy to get started with this platform. The platforms for smart sensors, produced by Libelium, are compounded by open source hardware and are characterized by their robustness, ease to incorporate dozens of different sensors and operate over long distances.

They can be used in many different fields, from the fire detection or monitoring of crops, to control air quality, to measuring water consumption or creating parking systems that inform the driver of the availability of squares9.

More information: http://www.libelium.com/products/waspmote

2.2 Arduino

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP).

Arduino is serving as the basis of breathalyzers, for home automation systems, screens with Twitter messages of DNA testing kits, traffic lights, art installations, 3D printer, or system to detect earthquakes and report via Twitter if the tremor occurs less than five kilometers. A major milestone has been connecting Arduino to mobile phones with Arduino boards. Google launched an ADK (Android Open Accessory Development Kit)10 an interface for communicating with the operating system Android Hardware devices (Arduino).

More information: Website: http://www.arduino.cc/

2.3 DASH7

DASH7 is an open source wireless sensor networking standard for wireless sensor networking, which operates in the 433 MHz unlicensed ISM band. DASH7 provides multi-year battery life, range of up to 2 km, indoor location with 1 meter accuracy, low latency for connecting with moving things, a very small open source protocol stack, AES 128-bit shared key encryption support, and data transfer of up to 200 kbit/s. DASH7 is the name of the technology promoted by the non-profit consortium called the DASH7 Alliance. Formed in 2009, the DASH7 Alliance is a nonprofit industry consortium with more than 50 participants that promotes the use of the ISO 18000-7 standard for wireless sensor networking.

Products with DASH7 wireless sensor networking capability simplify the way we connect wirelessly with the people, places and things around us

More information: http://www.dash7.org/

2.3 Rasberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

Raspebrrey Pi has been developed by The Raspberry Pi Foundation, an UK charity founded in 2009 to promote the study of basic computer science in schools.

More information at: http://www.raspberrypi.org/

2.4 BeagleBone

BeagleBone is a low-cost credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu. With plenty of I/O and processing power for real-time analysis provided by the TI Sitara™ AM335x ARM® Cortex™-A8 processor, BeagleBone can be complemented with cape plug-in boards which augment BeagleBone’s functionality.

More information at: http://beagleboard.org/bone

2.5 Ninja Blocks

Ninja Blocks are small, cloud-enabled computers powered by a BeagleBone running Ubuntu Linux, allowing folks to hack and customize the whole thing with a little programming work. The computer itself has no onboard sensors or actuators, but they do sell a variety of them that you can, then, program for a variety of uses -- there's a temperature and humidity sensor, a motion sensor, a button, a window and door sensor, and a host of remote control sockets

The project also has a web-service platform that lets you control and build apps that talk to connected devices.

More information at: www.ninjablocks.com

2.6 Tiny Duino

The TinyCircuits TinyDuino is an Arduino compatible board in an ultra compact package (Size less than a quarter). You can add expansion shields to add more features, whether it is communication capabilities (like Bluetooth, WiFi, USB), sensor readings, drive a display or run motors for your swarm of tiny robots – there is a shield for that.

More information at: http://tiny-circuits.com/products/tinyduino/

2.7 Nanode

Nanode is an open source microcontroller board which has on-board internet connectivity. It is a low cost building block to allow experimentation with the Internet of Things. It is a low cost building block to allow experimentation with the Internet of Things.

Using these simple techniques, Nanode could serve a simple webpage, and allow a user to interact with it’s hardware using a browser interface. Nanode can also be used for sensing environmental data, such as temperature, weather or air-quality – using simple add on sensors.

This data could be conveyed up to a cloud based open data service such as Cosm, and then using the tools provided, the data could be visualised, graphed and acted upon.

More information: http://www.nanode.eu/what-is-nanode/

2.8 The Rascal

The Rascal is a small computer that you can use to monitor and control the world remotely. It's like the brains of an iPhone, without the corporate overlord. The Rascal is powerful enough to handle real web traffic, but you don't have to be a professional electrical engineer to use one.

The Rascal has its own web-based editor on board, it works with most Arduino shields, and you can program it in Python.

More information: www.rascalmicro.com/

2.9 RadioBlock

The RadioBlock is an FCC certified radio modem with on board mesh-networking out of the box. If you are searching for a drop in IEEE 802.15.4 radio modem to get your product to market fast search no further.

More information: http://www.coloradomicrodevices.com/the-radio-block/

2.10 openPicus

openPicus is an Italian company producing hardware for the Internet of Things. The modules are empowered by a powerful but light Free and Open Source OS (FreeRTOS) and embed a full dedicated TCP/IP software stack as well as an embedded web server.

The company produces mostly two hardware products:

  • Flyport is a system on module based on Microchip Technology PIC processors with different kind of connectivity to Internet: Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Flyport modules are used to connect and control systems over Internet through an embedded customizable webserver or the standard TCP/IP services. Flyport modules with microcontroller and transceiver all in one. Microcontroller runs your application, no host processor needed. Pinout is customizable by software.

  • Nest expansion boards that are created for specific applications, compatible with each Flyport.

  • Also a Free IDE development tool is provided by the manufacturer to create, compile and download applications (firmware) to the modules and for importing external web pages.

More information: http://www.openpicus.com/

2.11 Fosstrak

Fosstrak is an RFID software platform open source that implements the GS1 EPC network. Fosstrak offer the following solutions: EPCglobal-certified Fosstrak EPCIS, for system integrators, and for RFID application developer, the Java libraries of Fosstrak for the non-custom parts of the application developed. Beside the software could be used as a starting point for students works, e.g. to develop new discovery systems that require multiple EPCIS installations.

More information at: https://code.google.com/p/fosstrak/

2.12 AspireRFID

The AspireRFID project aims at developing and promoting an free, open source, lightweight, standards-compliant, scalable, privacy-friendly, and integrated middleware along with several tools to ease the development, the deployment and the management of RFID-based applications and sensor-based applications. It implements several specifications from consortiums such as EPC Global, NFC Forum, JCP and OSGi Alliance.

AspireRFID provides also a set of tools enabling RFID consultants to deploy RFID solutions without a need for tedious low-level programming. AspireRFID allows the specification of RFID enabled processes. Accordingly, the tools generate all the RFID artifacts required to deploy these solutions over the AspireRfid middleware.

The license used by AspireRFID sources is the LGPL v2.1. The license used by AspireRFID documentation is the Creative Commons Share Alike (by-sa).

More information : http://wiki.aspire.ow2.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/WebHome

LLRP Toolkit Project

The LLRP Toolkit houses the development of open source libraries in various languages to help reader and software vendors build and parse LLRP messages. LLRP Toolkit Goals

  • Provide libraries for the development of LLRP-based applications and smart readers

  • Accelerate integration of LLRP into open RFID frameworks

  • Facilitate development of LLRP-based test tools

  • Provide a human-readable form for LLRP messages to facilitate an LLRP discussion community

  • Simplify basic LLRP message transactions

  • Enable a common framework for LLRP vendor extensions

Toolkit project files are licensed under the Apache 2.0 license.

More information at: http://www.llrp.org

2.13 Accada

Accada is an open source RFID Prototyping Platform developed by the Auto-ID Lab at ETH Zurich / University St. Gallen, Switzerland. It has been designed to allow end-users, system integrators and researchers to experiment with EPCglobal Network protocols for the development of new applications. The Accada EPCIS software module consists of a capture application that interprets the captured RFID data, a repository (database) that stores events and a querapplication that retrieves RFID events from the repository. Accada also features a tag data translation engine (TDT) developed at the Cambridge Auto-ID Lab.

More information at: http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/3405

2.14 Rifidi Project

Rifidi Edge is a complete RFID Middleware Platform with an edge server and development tools to enable the development and deployment of highly customized RFID applications.

The middleware collects data from EPC Gen 2 RFID readers, filters that information and delivers it to systems that employ the data for business processes. The middleware works not only with RFID interrogators, but also with bar-code scanners, sensors and other hardware, such as cameras. More information at: http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/5328

2.15 Mango

Mango is one of the software M2M (Machine-to-Machine) most popular in the world, also known as control software or SCADA Indusrtial. Mango is a web application, software or M2M desarrollad Ajax, which allows users to access and control electronic sensors, devices and machines across multiple protocols simultaneously. Mango offers an interface to various data sources can be created and configured at the same time allowing the management of user access, alerts, data logging and automation.

More information at: http://mango.serotoninsoftware.com/

2.16 The Bug System

The Bug System combines open source modular hardware and software, a complete application development environment and, when combined with Swarm, a powerful, cloud- based data aggregation tool to provide a unique, end-to-end Internet of Things innovation platform for customers.

More information: http://www.buglabs.net/

2.17 Contiki

Contiki is an open source operating system for the Internet of Things. Contiki allows tiny, battery-operated low-power systems communicate with the Internet. Contiki is used in a wide variety of systems such as city sound monitoring, street lights, networked electrical power meters, industrial monitoring, radiation monitoring, construction site monitoring, alarm systems, and remote house monitoring. Contiki is developed by a world-wide team of developers with contributions from Atmel, Cisco, ETH, Redwire LLC, SAP, SICS, Thingsquare, and many others, led by Adam Dunkels of Thingsquare.

More information at: http://www.contiki-os.org/

2.18 ThingSpeak

ThingSpeak is an open application platform designed to enable meaningful connections between things and people. ThingSpeak has an open source API to store and retrieve data from things using HTTP over the Internet or via a Local Area Network. With ThingSpeak, you can create sensor logging applications, location tracking applications, and a social network of things with status updates.

The ThingSpeak API is available on GitHub for download and installation on your own servers. You can also take the source code and make changes and contribute new features. ThingSpeak is a modern Ruby on Rails 3.0 application and includes everything to get started including, a full web application, User Management, API Key Management, Channel Management, and Charting. The license for ThingSpeak is under GPLv3 for open source use and can be licensed from ioBridge for closed source applications. ThingSpeak has been installed on over 500 servers and licenced commercially since its release on GitHub in March 2011. Contact ioBridge for licensing options for commercial use.

More information at: https://www.thingspeak.com/

2.19 IoT Toolkit

The IoT Toolkit is an Open Source project to develop a set of tools for building multi-protocol Internet of Things Gateways and Service gateways that enable horizontal co-operation between multiple different protocols and cloud services. The project consists of the Smart Object API, gateway service, and related tools:

  • Smart Object API gateway service reference implementation

  • HTTP-to-CoAP Semantic mapping proxy

  • Gateway-as-a-Service deployment

  • Application framework, embedded software Agents

  • Semantic discovery and linkage, Linked Data compatibility

  • Tools for multiple sensor net clients

  • Raspberry Pi and cloud micro-instance deployment images (Ubuntu)

  • Ciseco EVE+ Raspberry Pi hardware reference platform supports multiple WSNs on a single board (XRF, RFM12B, Z-Wave, EnOcean, and Xbee, plus ethernet and USB on the Pi)

More information at: http://iot-toolkit.com/

2.20 Lophilo

Lophilo is building an open source, open hardware network-oriented embedded hardware and software platform focused on ease of development and maintenance. A single language across the whole system: UI, server and embedded code development in Javascript with included Web development environment and large number of libraries and custom hardware shields. Built-in modern software development tools: unit testing, source management, online debugging. Hardware platform using programmable digital logic as the glue between the CPU and the I/O ports enabling hardware-accelerated innovations (ex: audio/video codecs implemented in hardware).

More information at: http://lophilo.com/

2.21 Nimbits

Nimbits is a service for connecting people, sensors and devices on the cloud. It is a free, social and open source platform for the Internet of Things.

With nimbits, you can give your projects the processing power of Google™, add the intelligence of the WolframAlpha™ computational knowledge engine, connect to Facebook™, Twitter™ and the Google Plus™ social network, and connect to thousands of data feeds from hundreds of online Nimbits Server instances.

Nimbits is the only cloud based, sensor logging service that is:

  • •.Completely Open Source - soup to nuts.

  • •.Zero Lock In - you can download and upload your data in csv format.

  • •.Connects you to expert knowledge systems like WolframAlpha

  • •.Provides High Performance REST APIs utilizing the Spring Framework

  • •.Allows you to build your own Nimbits Ecosystem internally or on our Public / Private instances.

  • •.Seamlessly integrated into Google Apps™ for Domains, providing Single Sign On and Google Docs integration

  • •.Embed live charts of data in your websites with JavaScript and Chart APIs

More information: http://nimbits.com/index.html and https://cloud.nimbits.com/

2.22 TinyOS

TinyOS is an open source, BSD-licensed operating system designed for low-power wireless devices, such as those used in sensor networks, ubiquitous computing, personal area networks, smart buildings, and smart meters. A worldwide community from academia and industry use, develop, and support the operating system as well as its associated tools, averaging 35,000 downloads a year.

More information at: http://www.tinyos.net/

2.23 OpenBeacon

OpenBeacon The project is an open platform for active RFID applications operating in the 2.4GHz frequency license-free ISM. OpenBeacon is based on open source software and a very flexible module, low cost reprogrammable Rfmodule Open Source. The firmware code and hardware schematics are available under GPL.

More information: http://www.openbeacon.org/

2.24 OpenEnergyMonitor

OpenEnergyMonitor is a project to develop open-source energy monitoring tools to help us relate to our use of energy, our energy systems and the challenge of sustainable energy. The OpenEnergyMonitor system is an end-to-end open-source energy monitoring system that is Arduino IDE compatible

More information at: http://openenergymonitor.org/emon/

2.25 M2M Group eclipse.org

m2m.eclipse.org is the Eclipse group responsible for the development of technologies that enable the development of M2M communications in a more simple way. These technologies are intended to establish a complete open M2M stack. Includes a development framework with a powerful and fast programming language Lua, communication protocols like MQTT and OMA-DM, and Lua Development Tools, which have been proved a complete IDE for the Lua language.

More information at: http://m2m.eclipse.org/index.html

2.26 Project Paho (Incl uence protocol IBM's MQTT)

The Paho project provides scalable open-source implementations of open and standard messaging protocols aimed at new, existing, and emerging applications for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT).

More information: http://www.eclipse.org/paho/

Hot Forest Green

HotForestGreen is an “internet of things” developer framework.

It can be used to create things like Automated Homes, Smart spaces and Real Time Collaboration Software.

It is created with several purposes in mind, including:

  • To reduce the threshold to build Smart Spaces, Distributed Applications and “Internet of Things” things – By making and keeping it as simple as possible.

  • To run on low budget, low power machines – Like 150 euro Android phones, 100 euro Android Tablets and 200 euro Netbooks (prices based on price levels of August 1, 2011)

  • To serve both tinkerers and professionals – By offering a system that offers you all the things for your basic needs and that can be scaled up to multiple Servers on multiple systems over multiple networks, using load balancing and automated processes to re-wire communication when Servers drop out.

More information at: http://hotforestgreen.wordpress.com

Author: Ana trejo Pulido

Date: 18/03/2013



1Fuente: http://www.epic-cities.eu/content/smart-cities

2Fuente: http://www.urenio.org/2013/01/05/hype-cycle-for-smart-city-technologies-and-solutions-2012/

3Fuente: http://blogs.gartner.com/andrea_dimaio/2012/08/10/technology-is-almost-irrelevant-for-smart-cities-to-succeed/

4La cadena de valor tecnológica de la Smart City ha sido definida, entre otros, por la Fundación Telefónica en su estudio “Smart Cities: Un primer paso hacia la Internet de las cosas”. Disponible en: www.fundacion.telefonica.com/es/que_hacemos/media/publicaciones/SMART_CITIES.pdf

5Fuente: http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/internet-of-things/

6Fuente: Smart Cities: Un primer paso hacia la Internet de las cosas”

7Frey, Thomas:“Empowering “Things” for Our Internet of Things”. 30, septiembre 2012. THE FUTURIST magazine: Disponible en: http://www.wfs.org/blogs/thomas-frey/empowering-%E2%80%9Cthings%E2%80%9D-for-our-internet-things

8Fuente: http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/open-enterprise/2011/11/why-the-internet-of-things-will-be-open/index.htm

9Fuente: http://www.technologyreview.es/tr35spain/profile.aspx?trid=1342


10Más información en: http://developer.android.com/tools/adk/index.ht