Antwerp will become the first “smart city” in Flanders. The city will install some hundreds of probes on bins, water pipes, parking places or even residents’ boilers. These sensors will be linked to the Internet and data collected will be available for developers – a first for Europe.
Antwerp was designated as the “test bed” for this revolution which might subsequently be extended to the entire Flemish region.
Its Mayor, Bart De Wever, says, “As both a globally-renowned diamond centre and the shopping capital of the ‘Low Countries’, Antwerp is the ideal city in which to carry out this experiment.”
With IMEC, the Flemish university platform for research and new technologies, Antwerp has started to integrate computer chips into every possible object.
Sensors in bins will keep an eye upon how full they are getting and will therefore be useful to guide collection frequencies, whilst probes in pipes will analyse water quality and avert floods. Chips installed in Bpost delivery vehicles will measure air quality.
This data flow will allow for more efficient city organisation, but will only act as a first step in a long-term objective. “The unique aspect of this project is that it is an open platform,” the Flemish Minister for Innovation, Philippe Muyters, stresses. “Each developer could thus use data and create its own application. This is a first for Europe.”
The Flemish region is making four million euros available through the platform for the project. It is investing four million euros to develop applications. Antwerp and IMEC are each also injecting 650,000 euros.