Apps for smart cities event








I am happy to announce the Apps for Smart Cities event to be held in Amsterdam in 2012 (end of march). Here is some background how this idea came out and I would welcome your comments/speaking proposals etc. Please email me at ajit.jaokar at


A couple of weeks ago, I gave the keynote at PICNIC in Amsterdam where I spoke on the topic of ‘What makes a city smart’. My view was, the closer a city behaves to the Internet, the ‘smarter’ it is. While this definition sounds very generic, it is relevant because the Internet is a platform and is thus an enabler of innovation. This innovation is created by the people.  So, in discussion with Appsterdam, we proposed the idea of ‘Apps for Smart cities’ – an event about grassroots innovation for Smart cities. Today, apps are a core component of the Mobile and also the Web ecosystem.  So, most people are familiar with apps – either as developers or as users. When we extend the idea to ‘apps for smart cities’, we get the concept of apps which incorporate both hardware and software.

So, what does a Smart City look like?

I am also on the advisory board of the World Smart Capital   program , which is modelled on the lines of the World design capital. The world smart capital has produced a Smart cities manifesto at PICNIC.

They define a Smart city as:

A city can be defined as smart when investments in human and social capital and traditional (ex transport) and modern(ex ICT) communications infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life with a wise management of natural resources through participatory governance


This is a very comprehensive definition. It is beyond the traditional – IT led – emphasis on  sensors and embedded systems.


The concept of smart city seems to rotate around six areas:

- Smart mobility

-   Smart economy

-   Smart environment

-   Smart living

-   Smart people

-   Smart governance


Obviously, mobility plays an important role especially with mobile phones today which incorporate multiple sensors.  Finally smart cities lead to a change of participatory governance style and emphasis on new challenges like Privacy and Security for citizens.


So, the Apps for smart cities event will focus on creating apps for the above including hardware and software and also mobile devices.

Already, we have some interesting supporters like Pachube and we are pleased to have them aboard. We are also speaking through appsterdam with various other organizations as well. So, watch this space  :)

There is a deeper philosophy behind this:

-          The value of open hardware is in the empowerment of communities  which Chris Anderson has famously termed the next Industrial Revolution or ‘the long tail of things’.

-          The tools of factory production, from electronics assembly to 3-D printing, are now available to individuals, in batches as small as a single unit and “Hardware is becoming much more like software,” as MIT professor Eric von Hippel puts it.

-          As Chris Anderson says: We’ve seen this picture before: It’s what happens just before monolithic industries fragment in the face of countless small entrants, from the music industry to newspapers. Lower the barriers to entry and the crowd pours in. and Thus the new industrial organizational model. It’s built around small pieces, loosely joined. Companies are small, virtual, and informal.

These are the ideas we want to explore in the Apps for Smart Cities event.

We welcome your comments. Contact me on ajit.jaokar at We are looking for speakers/ sponsors and ideas.

So, what are the toolkits on my radar? (Please free to suggest more)

Apart from arduino ofcourse + Cisco, IBM, Vodafone , here are some more ideas on my radar:


is a modular, open source system for building devices. a US based open source hardware company, quite famous , recently it unveils a plan to corporate with Ford    


Funnel is a toolkit to sketch your idea physically, and consists of software libraries and hardware. By using Funnel, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with various programming languages such as ActionScript 3, Processing, and Ruby. In addition, the user can set filters to input or outputs ports: range division, filtering (e.g. LPF, HPF), scaling and oscillators. It is actually a  redesigned arduino platform


Gainer is an environment for user interfaces and media installations. By using the Gainer environment, the user can handle sensors and/or actuators with a PC on various programming environments such as Flash, Max/MSP, Processing and so on.

Make controller

The Make Controller 2.0 & Interface Board Kit includes the Make Controller Version 2.0 and the new Interface Board that makes adding sensors and motors easier than ever! Also available with the Application Board. The Make Controller is built around the AT91SAM7X256, and adds the essential components (like the crystal, voltage regulator, filter capacitors, etc.) required to run it, while bringing almost all the processor’s signal lines out to standard 0.1″ spaced sockets.


Wiring is an open source programming environment and electronics i/o board for exploring the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer programming and prototyping with electronics. It illustrates the concept of programming with electronics and the physical realm of hardware control which are necessary to explore physical interaction design and tangible


Project Sun SPOT was created to encourage the development of new applications and devices. It is designed from the ground up to allow programmers who never before worked with embedded devices to think beyond the keyboard, mouse and screen and write programs that interact with each other, the environment and their users in completely new ways. A Java programmer can use standard Java development tools such as NetBeans to write code.


Pinguino is an Arduino-like prototyping platform based on 8-bit or powerful 32-bit ©Microchip PIC Microcontrollers with built-in USB module (no FTDI chip).