Drammen – The Making of a Smart City
This picturesque riverside city has cleaned its waterways and air pollution, and is becoming a standard for how IoT-enabled communities are conceived, planned and executed in Norway
Drammen, a bustling city in Norway, was historically an industrial complex focused on textiles, paper and lumber production. These industries led to polluted air and waterways. Compounding the problem, traffic congestion and a high population density cramped communal spaces, further eroding quality of life. In recent years, a strong revival is under way, with city leaders replacing former industrial areas with elegant public spaces and chic architecture. This urban renewal has been instrumental in transforming Drammen, attracting new residents and economic opportunities, and poising it to soon become one of the fastest-growing cities in Norway.
The already increasing population, coupled with Drammen’s impending merge with several neighboring municipalities in 2020, is expected to boost the population by 50 percent — and require major thrusts for region-wide digitization. Smart systems that optimize city management and delight citizens with new services for healthier, safer lifestyles can further Drammen’s goal to drive sustainable community growth. To help them on this journey, Drammen established a research and science project together with Arrow Electronics (www.arrow.com).
Taking a long-term perspective, Drammen established a model that is fast becoming the way smart cities are conceived, planned and executed in Norway – one that offers a compelling use case for the Internet of Things (IoT). In an age of ubiquitous connectivity, cities can deliver unprecedented benefits to citizens by harnessing data from various facets of the community infrastructure. While the priorities of each city vary depending on their people, history and the maturity of their technological infrastructure, most smart city initiatives target citizen welfare, economic prosperity and environmental protection.
The vision for transforming Drammen into a smart city was a collaborative effort between Drammen residents, local businesses, city officials and service providers. Arrow partner and local startup Vicotee was the initiating force for the project. City leaders intend to enable the transformation with a three-phase execution plan, working with Arrow on proof-of-concept installations that will be deployed at scale after validation this year and into 2020. To guide decisions and put citizen interests forefront in the implementation, Drammen identified four governing pillars for the smart city ecosystem and technology platform:
• Open data and transparency: The platform will make public information easily accessible online, enabling citizens, officials, companies and investors to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions concerning personal and business situations.
• Technology and innovation: The platform will have an open architecture framework that adapts to new solutions and technology requirements, and that serves as the basis for continued innovation now and well into the future. Service providers will use the platform as a core element of their overall solutions.
• Co-creation: The platform will embrace a collaborative approach where city stakeholders, technology providers and service providers all work together to further the interests of Drammen citizens.
• Resource management: The platform will serve as a critical integrating force to gain insights into the city’s resources, while also supplementing management capabilities, ensuring that the infrastructure and services meet the needs of a growing and aging population.
While allowing the City of Drammen to have full control over data availability, the platform also establishes a consistent ecosystem for data flow within the municipality and out to vendors and citizens. Vendors can also publish and share their data through the platform. And all citizen data and associated metadata captured as part of smart city services is stored in the cloud using the highest data governance standards compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.
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While the tenets governing the vision of smart city were sound, Drammen faced significant challenges in selecting the right technology partners to make it a reality. First, the city’s technology personnel did not have the necessary expertise to evaluate a large number of technology choices and providers. Further, the city could not allocate the resources to manage multiple suppliers in a multifaceted technology infrastructure that would require hardware, software, cloud and services vendors. Most important, city stakeholders were seeking a single end-to-end open solution to cover a wide spectrum of needs and use cases.
After discussions with many point solution providers, it was clear to Drammen city technologists that they needed a solution partner with a deep and global track record of bringing together diverse technologies, expertise and services. Arrow was chosen as the lead partner and tasked with discovering, vetting and aggregating the entire environment and all solutions within, ensuring that all the participants adhere to Drammen’s smart city guiding principles.
“Arrow has made Drammen more competent with new capabilities and infrastructure that will shape its future,” commented Frank Baklid, chief digital officer for the city of Drammen. “In less than three months, Arrow was able to architect an open platform that will enable technology partners, local businesses and the city to add new services at scale. Arrow’s breadth of partnerships, know-how and capabilities is exactly what Drammen needs in this project.”
At the very center, the crucial element to achieving the project goals is a robust, scalable and yet flexible technology architecture via a state-of-the-art cloud platform. Arrow brought to bear its longstanding strategic relationship with Microsoft to form the core technology element. Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform enables building, deploying, and managing applications in private or hybrid clouds. Azure offers the most comprehensive cloud ecosystem offering:
* Low-cost, massively scalable, tiered backup storage solution
* Hassle-free backup and data archiving
* Policies designed to meet a variety of compliance requirements
In addition, Azure offers a collection of integrated cloud services that developers and IT professionals can use to build, deploy, and manage applications through a global network of data centers. Some services include:
* Azure IoT Edge: A managed service that delivers cloud intelligence locally by deploying Azure services and AI on edge devices
* Azure IoT Hub: Connect, monitor and manage end-points including secure commissioning, decommissioning, remote updates, etc.
* Azure Event Hub: Real-time data ingestion from any data source using any protocol
* Azure Event Grid: Single source to manage all events and route them to any destination
* Time Series Insights: Manage, query or visualize time series data generated by IoT devices
* Power BI: Interactive visualizations and intelligence capabilities with a simple interface for end users to create their own reports and dashboards
Arrow’s broad global portfolio of partners and technologies, and their experience working on diverse IoT projects, helped bring together a consortium of point solution providers to help Drammen. Arrow identified technology partners for devices, sensors and connectivity – and these providers formed a collaborative partnership to drive key proofs of concept and pull together Drammen’s smart city ecosystem. Figure 1 delineates the key elements of Drammen’s smart city technology platform, with the Microsoft Azure infrastructure as the core element.
Figure 1: Drammen’s smart city technology stack
As a Drammen native and CEO of Vicotee, a key technology partner in the project, Richard Evje Pettersen is convinced of the central role Arrow is playing. “While Vicotee addresses certain parts of the smart city application,” he shared, “Arrow is the only company capable of addressing the complete system architecture and providing a scalable system for the future.”
Proofs of Concept
To assess the viability of smart city projects at scale, Drammen identified several elements of the city as candidates for proof of concept. These were aimed to deliver tangible benefits to citizens and empower them to make decisions to improve the city’s overall quality of life.
Citizen benefit: Drammen citizens were wary of swimming in the river water not only due to the history of pollution by the paper and textile industries, but also due to the temperature. A handful of locations where selected for initial proof-of-concept testing and have been successfully deployed since August 2017 — residents can get real-time information on water quality and temperature, air temperature and UV radiation levels at select bathing areas. Due to the popularity of this service and demand for more smart bathing spots, Drammen will implement this technology at scale this summer.
Technology solution: Residents can monitor real-time conditions using a mobile phone or PC, as well as through boards with QR codes placed at the bathing areas. Sensors placed in different locations allow water and air temperatures, along with UV indexes, to be read on the city’s website. Vicotee’s AURORA XDLSN3 sensing nodes were employed for measuring water and air temperature data in real-time and transmitting that to the cloud via the low-power Cellular NB-IoT network. Two CR123 1550mA batteries ensure each module will operate for up to 10 years without the need for battery replacement.
Figure 2: Water and air temperatures measured at smart bathing places visualized on a web portal Outdoor Air Quality Monitoring
Citizen benefit: Though imperceptible to the naked eye, particulates in the air have a direct and large impact on citizen health. Small particles of less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems as they affect the lungs and heart. Measuring conditions to this degree allows Drammen to alert citizens when air quality is of concern and also enables the city to take proactive measures to minimize pollution.
Technology solution: Vicotee’s AURORA Small Particle Sensors measure particles down to 0.38um. In Drammen, Vicotee utilized NB-IoT communication to connect to the Azure cloud. For added flexibility, the Particle Sensor Module could use LoRa or SmartMesh modes for communication if needed. Data gathered by the sensors is analyzed and shared with citizens via online dashboards and digital signage systems.
Figure 3: Installation of air quality sensors in Drammen Smart Drainage and Water Level Sensing
Citizen benefit: Sand, stones and other material in storm drains can cause water levels to rise unexpectedly and quite fast, flooding streets and causing disruptions and the need for unscheduled maintenance. Automated checking of the level of debris and proactive notification on problems with drainage can avoid traffic jams, flash floods, and potential damage to city, business and residential property.
Technology solution: Vicotee’s AURORA Smart Drain Sensors measure fill levels and distinguish between different types of fluids and mediums. Wireless transmission (via NB-IoT or LoRa) allows for real-time monitoring of sand, soil and water in each manhole across the entire city grid. This eliminates the need for time-consuming, large-scale manual inspection by teams of city employees and allows the municipality to fix issues before they cause disruptions.
Figure 4: Smart drainage and water level sensors Smart Water Metering
Citizen benefit: Current water meters installed in Drammen homes measure water consumption information but cannot transmit this data automatically to the city. Monthly invoicing requires citizens to manually check the water meters and send text messages to the municipality. This process is cumbersome and an annoyance when water meters are installed in hard-to-reach places. Digital meters that transmit consumption data automatically take away this hassle for residents and streamline the invoicing process.
Technology solution: A plan to install smart water meters will enable automatic collection and aggregation of water consumption data throughout the city several times a day. Wireless technologies employed in other proof-of-concept implementations (NB-IoT, LoRa) or Wireless M-Bus can be used for transmitting water consumption data. This data provides the municipality an opportunity to automate the invoicing process and understand usage patterns. Valuable insights driven by analytics will enable city officials to reduce waste, minimize leaks and encourage the right consumer behaviors among citizens. While individual household data will not be shared, citizens will be given access to aggregate data that shows trends and overall consumption.
The entire smart city initiative in Drammen is forging new ways for Nordic cities and beyond to enrich their inhabitants’ lives. Having a long-term vision, choosing the right technology partners and deploying a phased, proven solution methodology is serving the community well.
Already, the success of Drammen’s proof-of-concept solutions has seeded several avenues of value. City leaders are busy planning new areas for services across the community to drive further citizen benefit, and the idea is catching on with local residents and businesses. Perhaps most significantly this year, confidence in the new digital infrastructure has enabled the city to plan the impending merger with neighboring municipalities without fears of overwhelming current residents or thinning out resources that must benefit the entire citizen pool.
New initiatives being formulated for the future focus around technologies that can:
1. Drive further economic activity and investment into Drammen
2. Increase engagement between citizens, the local business community, universities and the municipality
3. Enable new services that can easily be added to the current infrastructure
“Arrow is very excited to be involved in the Drammen Smart City Project and to make an impact in improving quality of life and wellbeing for its residents,” added Andrew Bickley, Arrow director of IoT in the EMEA region. “We saw a high degree of synergy between the requirements, engineering competence and technology solutions that Arrow can bring to architect an end-to-end solution. More important, we are executing Drammen’s vision of a scalable open platform, which creates endless possibilities for new services to be deployed by any technology providers, local business owners and the city.”
With a thoughtful eye on the past and a watchful gaze on the horizon, Drammen is carving out a special place in the region’s history as one of its most notable polluters now turned one of its most progressive leaders for clean, connected, responsible living.