March was an enriched month for the “Smart” summits. It is always great to see authorities, companies, developers, citizens are talking and thinking of solutions for a smarter, connected city.
On 12th March, IBM hosted the Smarter Solutions Summit at Swissotel Istanbul for the third time. Summit has started with the welcoming speech of Isabel Gomez Cagigas, IBM Turkey Country General Manager. Following the speech of Juan Pi Llorens, there was a very inspiring scientist on the stage, Dr. John Cohn. He addressed the importance of Big Data and how to use it. The most impressing part of his show was (yes it was a show) you were able to feel his enthusiasm for what he is doing. When brilliance has the same path the passion, you will always notice it. I did feel it during his speech.
Following the welcoming session, I have chosen to follow the panel on Smart Cities among the different sessions. The panelists were, Ebru Özgüç (Vodafone), Şadi Yazıcı (Mayor of Tuzla Municipality), Orhan Aktaş (Istanbul Ulaşım A.Ş.),Server Tanfer (IBM), Leyla Arsan (TAGES), Tolga Doğancıoğlu (Hexagon Studio) and the panel was moderated by Volkan Akı (TurkishTime).
Panel has started with every individual panelist’s short speech on Smart Cities from their perspectives. The traffic problems and smart solutions for the transportation was a must topic to be discussed while there was the presence of Istanbul Ulaşım A.Ş., Hexagon Studio and Tuzla Municipality. The importance of smart city solutions, especially in transportation, seems one of the key actions for the unavoidable increase of the transportation problem in Istanbul. Vodafone and IBM emphasized their products available or in design phase and their possible adaptations to the smart city solutions.
My expectation from the panel was a cross idea changing between the panelists. I was quite confident about that when I saw the profile of the panelists. Neither the period neither the format of the panel were arranged to fulfill that though. The only moment it occurred was when Leyla Arsan has initiated the argument on the “Open Data”. Until then there was no inspiring word but only exposing what have been done by corporates. The discussion was a good stimulator but at the end it was an indicator how far Turkey is from the international level of understanding of the “Smart Cities”.
The starting point was the importance of the collaboration in developing smart communities and the achievement of this also through “Open Data” due to fact that it is not enough to serve applications to the citizens to create a collaborative community. In cities, there is data generated by the citizens but this data is not open to the usage of citizens to make them able to develop applications. Privacy and security issues have to be solved with standardization policies in the national level but compatible to the international solutions. Public authorities are using the available data for the development of services to the citizens, which is essential but not enough. The standardization policies should have been discussed, agreed and an Open Data Platform should be enabled. Those facts have been stated but discussion has not gone broader, 45-minute duration panel did not enable it.
The event that has been organized by Union of Municipalities of Marmara was the “1st Smart Municipal Summit” in Grand Cevahir Otel. It was a 2-day event, which hosted exhibitors and several panelists to discuss a wide range of topics such as Urban Renewal, Telecommunication, New Generation Meters, Subscriber Technologies, GIS, Smart Transportation Systems and Financial Solutions.
I was able to attend the second day of the summit; there was the “Smart Transportation Solutions and Sample Municipal Applications” panel. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Ilıcalı (İBB),Levent Fidansoy (BURULAŞ), Yrd. Doç. Dr. Hayri Baraçlı (İETT), Kasım Kutlu (İSBAK A.Ş.),Erol Yanar (Ministry of Transport,Maritime Affairs and Communications), Prof. Dr. R. Nejat Tuncay (OkanUniversity), Bülent Ekuklu (IBM Global Technology), Hasan Süel (Vodafone) were the panelists and I was looking forward to hear the “Smart Cities” from this point of view.
In the beginning, every panelists gave a short presentation for their solutions and visions on the Smart Solutions. Integration of technologies like NFC to the transportation and ticketing systems is encouraging new Smart City applications but it was disappointing to see a smart device without NFC compliance in an NFC application presentation to demonstrate how NFC works. This slide made me think of again why we are so far from being at a certain level of awareness.
Kasım Kutlu addressed the importance of forming a national policy for being “Smart” and every local municipality should perform the activities to conform in the national level. This aspect is true considering that individual efforts are appreciable; nevertheless no one can deny the necessity of a national policy. The national policy is not only going to bring a national level to the applications but also interoperability of systems. If the focus diverges from being “Smart” cities to local application servers, at the end we will be at a far point from having communicating, interoperable, ad-hoc systems.
During the question and answer session, audiences articulated their problems and expectations from the Istanbul Municipality IBB but not in the sense of “Smart” cities, mostly addressing city issues like traffic problem.
Distinct from the general tendency of the audiences, “Open Data”, as one of the key actors in “Smart Solutions”, policy was asked. Erol Yanar stated that the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications have started the studies on policy making. Kasım Kutlu mentioned that the data has been shared with universities for scientific purposes by now. But the necessity and importance of sharing the data with citizens is unavoidable and it is promising to hear that the studies in the ministry level have been initiated. Once details of the policy are going to be announced, it is going to be easier to forecast if we are going to the direction it supposed to be.
Exhibition area was rich in the sense of hardware solutions, while my expectations were beyond those. I hope during the incoming events we will be able to see services, ideas, innovative solutions that will enable the cities and citizens in “being Smarter”.
“Smart City” supposed to be something more than the collection of services that were developed and distributed to the citizens but encourages every single person to be a collaborative citizen either by using the services or developing new services to the city while inspiring service providers to contribute this life cycle with innovative solutions. I want to believe we, as Turkey, will never miss the target.
Ebru Zeybek, April 5, 2013