Beyond Apps for Smart cities event – A global playpen for Smart city applications

Next week, I look forward to chairing the Apps for Smart cities event in Amsterdam.

Apps for Smart cities started out as an idea round the table and then as a blog post  based on a manifesto for apps for smart cities.

When I proposed this idea of treating apps for smart cities as an enabler for the city as a platform based on a simple equation,  Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform – we did not know where it would go. But the response from speakers, cities, developers and the support from the Amsterdam city council has been amazing – so we believe we are at the start of something big.

Apps for Smart cities is a part of the World Smart Capital initiative (WSCI) of which I am on the advisory board. The WSCI itself is evolving – and is supported by a larger team

So, the question is: Where do we go from here?

We already have interest from other cities to host the event – but we see the event as an ecosystem.

So, here is a vision we are working on – we seek thoughts and comments at ajit.jaokar at

To fulfil the vision of the ‘City as a platform’, we need to encourage grassroots innovation.  The critical difference between web based applications and ‘smart city’ applications is the relative complexity of deployment – for example – applications based on Arduino which interface with mobile devices.

Hence, for smart city innovation to take the next step, we need to need a network of ‘forward thinking venues’ creating a global playpen.

These can be anyone from individual people to cafes to shops – all of whom are prepared to experiment by showcasing / having apps which relate to smart cities

For this to work we need a brand and then we need the developers to create apps which will be certified to that brand which in turn will be deployed at the venues supporting the brand

By creating the network of venues, we provide the next step for innovation. Over time, we will also add later crowdfunding,  lean startup principles etc i.e. a one stop shop for innovation for smart city apps which is driven by a global network of venues

We are already taking these steps in Amsterdam and with a few early adopter cities.

We seek your comments and feedback at ajit.jaokar at  especially if you are a developer, a city or a venue

We will discuss and evolve the vision at the apps for smart cities event next week  where many of the developers will showcase applications based on this theme.

I look forward to seeing you there ..


Apps for smart cities site live – Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform

Only one week to go .. free for developers

 Apps for Smart cities

The strapline says it all -

Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform

apps for smart cities



Dentsu Introduces the “;Dcloud” Cloud Platform to Provide Emoji1 for Email, Blog, SMS, SNS and Other Apps




TOKYO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dentsu Inc. (TOKYO:4324)(ISIN:JP3551520004)(President & CEO: Tadashi Ishii; Head Office: Tokyo; Capital: 58,967.1 million yen; hereinafter “Dentsu”) announced today that it has developed the “;Dcloud2″ cloud platform together with D2 Communications (CEO: Takayuki Hoshuyama, Head Office: Tokyo; hereinafter “D2C”) and Bijutsu Shuppan Networks Co., Ltd. (President: Kentaro Oshita; Head Office: Tokyo; hereinafter “Bijutsu Shuppan Networks”) to dramatically enhance ease of use for users of emoji. As of today, ;Dcloud software development kits (SDK) for Android® and iPhone® application providers (hereinafter “developers”) worldwide are available free of charge.

Some of the applications developed using the ;Dcloud platform will be announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 which will be held in Spain at the end of February. These applications will also be made available to smartphone users worldwide at the same time.

Emoji-enabled services, such as Deco-mail®3, are used by more than 70 percent of young women in Japan. The emoji market in Japan alone exceeds US$300 million. DecoMarket®4, a smartphone application that offers emoji for purchase, has had more than 700,000 Android Market downloads in Japan alone since its launch in November 2010, and is now the largestemoji application in Japan. The launch of the ;Dcloud service will make emoji even more user-friendly.

A huge number of emoji are provided on the cloud platform, and users can easily use emoji as though they were already installed on their own smartphones. Seamless linking of the applications supported by ;Dcloud allows emoji to be automatically synchronized regardless of the application or the smartphone model used. Users can therefore easily choose theemoji that appeal to them.

In addition to making a major contribution to ease of use for users of emoji, ;Dcloud offers new business opportunities to developers and content providers (hereinafter “CPs”) who hold rights to emoji. By using the ;Dcloud SDK, developers can easily incorporate a communication system that utilizes emoji into their applications, even if they are located on the other side of the world. CPs who use the ;Dcloud platform can distribute the emoji to which they hold rights worldwide, instead of just in their home countries.

Overview of the ;Dcloud services for users

Free-of-charge services

  • Users can use a select sample of emoji provided by ;Dcloud free of charge
  • Clideco© (clickable emoji) function: If a user taps an emoji provided by a corporation, it changes in various ways such as into a message, a full-screen animation (Deco effect©) or a map that enables an instant search for the nearest store location. This function enables access to special information such as how to get coupons.
  • Social Palette©: Emoji palettes created from hundreds of emoji by CPs, users and DecoMarket are shared on ;Dcloud. When a user chooses a palette, the emoji on that palette are automatically downloaded and used without the user having to do anything else. These palettes allow users to insert emoji into their messages. (There are some restrictions on which palettes can be used free of charge.)

Subscription services

The following services can be used in addition to the free-of-charge services.

  • New content for subscribers will be added on a daily basis. Several tens of thousands of emoji will be available at the start of the service next year, and this number will be increased to several hundreds of thousands.
  • Emoji upload function: In addition to emoji provided by ;Dcloud, users who have created a ;Dcloud account can upload their own emoji to the cloud for use with applications that are supported by ;Dcloud.
  • Unlimited access to social palettes: All the social palettes can be used. Users can also create their own palettes, which they can then make public and share with other users.

Note on the ;Dcloud SDKs

A unique ID is assigned to each individual emoji in accordance with the International standard IEC 622275, and they are hosted on the ;Dcloud platform together with metadata that define the title, reading, part of speech, and search keyword for each emoji. Developers can use the ;Dcloud SDK to build various services by accessing these resources. They can also use the ;Dcloud SDK’s UI components to easily develop emoji applications that enable the easy creation, display and sending of messages with emoji.

As of today, Android and iOS application developers can access the ;Dcloud platform (beta version) and the ;Dcloud SDKs free of charge at the URL given below. The official version of ;Dcloud will be launched worldwide together with several types of supported applications at the end of February 2012.

  • iPhone is a trademark or registered trademark of Apple Inc.
  • Android and Android Market are trademarks or registered trademarks of Google Inc.
  • Deco-mail is a trademark or registered trademark of NTT DOCOMO, Inc.
1 Emoji are emoticons and other animated characters, expressed using GIF, JPEG or other image files rather than the conventional character codes such as Unicode used to create emoticons. Unlike emoticons, there are no code restrictions for emoji, which means that an infinite number of emoji can be created. Since the size of an emoji is not restricted to the size of one character, an emoji can span the length of one line, be an irregularly shaped picture or even a template for greeting cards and other messages.
2 “;Dcloud” is an abbreviation of “;DecoMarket® Cloud” and is pronounced “Dee cloud.”
Trademark registration is pending.
3 An email service that enables emoji to be embedded in or attached to emails sent on mobile phones and smartphones. NTT DOCOMO is the copyright holder.
4 The largest emoji application in Japan, DecoMarket® is a platform provided jointly by Dentsu, D2C and Bijutsu Shuppan Networks. More than 30 content providers offer more than 100,000 items for download. (As of December 12, 2011)
5 IEC 62227 is an international standard adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in June 2008 based on the Digital Rights Permission Code (DRPC) system devised in 1997 by Dentsu. DRPC represents a management method for licensing information to facilitate the distribution of content in a manner suitable for the digital era. Utilization of DRPC allows the management of content distribution in accordance with the intentions of both rights holder(s) and user(s) and enables easier development of a system to realize fair sharing of revenues between the rights holder(s) and the user(s). The IEC is one of the international standard-setting organizations that develop international standards for the fields of electrical and electronics technologies, alongside the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

About Dentsu Inc.
Founded in 1901, Dentsu Inc. has held the position of the world’s largest single-brand agency for almost 40 years. Through its unique “Integrated Communication Design” approach, Dentsu offers multinational clients the most comprehensive range of advertising and marketing services in the industry. While continuing to pursue innovation in the digital arena, Dentsu is active in the production and marketing of sports, movies, anime and other entertainment content on a global scale. The Dentsu Group has more than 6,000 clients and over 20,000 employees worldwide.

Dentsu News:
Dentsu Inc.:

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:



Dentsu Inc.
Media-related enquiries:
Shusaku Kannan, (813)6216-8042
Senior Manager
Corporate Communications Division
[email protected]
Development-related enquiries:
Takakazu Fujimoto, (813)6216-8307
Future Communication Department
Communication Design Center
[email protected]

OSS watch – Trinity college talk – Billions of sensors in the Cloud – Open source, Cloud and Smart cities


Speaking at Oxford Trinity college next week on ‘Billions of sensors in the Cloud – Open source, Cloud and Smart cities’ – should be a great event. If you are attending – happy to catch up!

Billions of sensors in the Cloud – Open source, Cloud and Smart citiesAjit Jaokar

The vision of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 is widely accepted by the industry. However, we also know that current technical architectures cannot scale to such levels and thus, we have to explore new paradigms. This talk explores new architectures, challenges and paradigms for such a hyper connected world. We cover sensors, Open source, next generation web and new networking technologies such as white space networks. We bring these ideas together in a practical context of ‘Smart cities’ and discuss how such applications could work.

Link and program HERE


Book review – Digital Wars – by Charles Arthur

I follow Charles Arthur’s writings both on the Guardian and on social media. So, I pre-ordered his book ‘Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet’. Here is a brief review.

The book essentially covers the strategies of Apple. Google and Microsoft and their relative competitive positioning over the crucial span of time between 1990s and the death of Steve Jobs.

It covers areas like Search, Digital music, Smart phones and tablets.

I like reading ‘strategy books’ in general – right from the Art of War to more recent books like the 48 Laws of Power – because I believe that history shapes the future even in the fast moving world of technology.

So, if you share the same beliefs, then this this is indeed an interesting read.

The book does what it says on the cover excellently (chart the evolution of the Digital wars between Apple, Microsoft and Google).

Having said that, I believe that these three companies may not dominate the future. Even Apple, which is currently dominant, may be impacted by Spotify (for example – I switched to Spotify from iTunes). Twitter, Facebook and even Pinterest may be more interesting than Google, Microsoft and Apple in the near future. However, the principles of competition and strategy may remain the same – and this makes ‘Digital wars’ an interesting book if you abstract the strategy away from the specific companies.

The only suggestion I would make is – The subtitle says ‘and the battle for the Internet’. I think these strategies are not affecting the Internet as such i.e. for example to dominate the Internet, protocols like SPDY (proposed by Google as replacing/enhancing http)  could have a far reaching impact i.e. I believe that the ‘wars’ discussed here are not about dominating the Internet in the strictest sense of the word.

The book is nevertheless insightful on the remit it covers and I recommend it

A manifesto – Apps for Smart cities ..

Apps for Smart cities is a unique event at the intersection of technology and society.

Putting people and ‘grassroots/ Long Tail’ innovation at the heart of Smart cities, speakers at the Apps for Smart Cities event will share real life experiences from their work including demos and videos.

The discussion will cover a range of topics including Air pollution monitoring, helping people with disabilities, Urban farming, Next generation art, Parking vehicles, The Web, Real time news and updates from sensors, Citizens participation, Quantified self(healthcare), citizens involvement etc.

The event brings together international perspectives with speakers from USA, UK, China, Ireland, Germany and others to Amsterdam.

Apps for Smart cities  lays the foundation of a new cross-functional community.  We bring together third party developers (web and mobile), Smart city platforms, City officials and planners, Open data personnel, content developers and creators, mobile operators, internet/mobile marketers, venture capitalists and many others

Date : March 29 at the  RAI (one of Amsterdam’s largest venues). The event is a part of series of related events on March (27-30). The ‘anchor’ events on these days are intertraffic – which relates to traffic management and Cevitts which relates to charging of electric vehicles. The apps for smart cities will be in at the RAI at the same time as Intertraffic and Cevitts. The events in total are expected to get 20,000 attendees

Pricing is free for developers: for other tickets please contact me at the email address belowSince the event is also cross promoted with other events on the day, we expect the tickets will sell out very soon.

Booths : We have some space for booths demos. Please contact me at address below

Sponsorship: We are already grateful for the support from organizations and also from various bodies in Amsterdam including the City of Amsterdam. However, we welcome sponsors. Please contact me at address below


The apps for Smart cities manifesto

1)       To harness the true potential of Smart cities, the city must become a platform i.e. an enabler for developers, creativity and applications.  In doing so, the city becomes like the Internet i.e. a connector and an enabler for citizens which aims to empower the citizen.

2)      Smart city applications are similar to conventional mobile applications. However, in conjunction with mobile devices which often include sensors,  Smart city applications would interface with hardware – typically open source hardware – which enables ‘intelligent data’ spots in the city

3)      Smart city apps are oriented towards empowerment of citizens and to ‘Long Tail’ applications

4)      Smart city applications  could use many existing and new mobile technologies including augmented reality, Android and other platforms but they also include hardware technologies like ArduinoBUG,Funnel  ,  Gainer  ,  Make controller    , Wiring ,  Sun SPOTs   Pinguino  , Firmata  and others

5)      Community , including elements like crowd sourcing, would be an important component of Smart city applications.

6)      Smart city applications could have the following 7 elements: (Source: Xi She)

   -   Sensible – sensors sensing the environment

-    Connectable – A networking devices bring the sensing information to the web;

-     Accessible – the broader information of our environment is published on the web, and accessible to the user (web);

-    Ubiquitous – the user can get access to the information thought web, but more importantly in mobile any time, any place (mobile);

-      Sociable – the user can publish the information though his social network

-      Sharable – The object itself must be accessible and addressable (not just the data) in a true peer to peer networked manner.

-      Visible/augmented – to retrofit the physical environment, make the hidden information seen not only through mobile device by individual but seen in naked eyes in more border range of the physical places like street signs

7)         Smart city applications could be based on the following themes

-       Smart Manufacturing, New production tools(home produced food, energy, micro-  manufacturing, 3D printing)

-       Collaboration / sharing of resources via the Internet

-       Urban farming

-       Apps relating to Open data

-       Apps relating to Smart energy

-       Apps relating to Smart transportation

-       Smart health

-       Technology(especially related to open source hardware and s/w)

-       Culture(hacker movement)

-       Sustainability

-       And Art

8)      Smart city apps enable better and participatory governance. From a governance, investment perspective, the world smart capital initiative offers another definition: 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

So, What are apps for smart cities? - Apps for smart cities could be defined as: Apps for Smart city  =  Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform



Why is all this important?  

 Lower the barriers to entry and the crowd pours in and consequently a new industrial organizational mode could be built around small pieces, loosely joined (adapted from Chris Andersen – Wired magazine)

 Thus, we hope to bring together a group of diverse thinkers to enable a grassroots revolution at the city level to empower citizens and developers.

Please contact me at ajit.jaokar at for more details





Is it time for Crowdfunding and P2P banking?



The growvc blog has an interesting discussion on Crowdfunding.

Topical Discussion on the Regulation in Crowdfunding

In a post on fueling innovation and entrepreneurship on the White House blog on September 9, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and deputy director for policy Tom Kalil described the crowdfunding proposal from the White House:

America’s most innovative companies need equity capital to grow and hire faster. As part of the President’s Startup America initiative, the Administration will work to unlock this capital through smart regulatory changes that are consistent with investor protection. This means reducing the disproportionately high costs that smaller companies face when going public, as well as raising the cap on “mini” public offerings (Regulation A) from $5 million to $50 million. It also means responsibly allowing startups to raise money through “crowdfunding” – gathering many small-dollar investments that add up to as much as $1 million.” Right now, entrepreneurs like these bakers and these gadget-makers are already using crowdfunding platforms to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in pure donations – imagine the possibilities if these small-dollar donors became investors with a stake in the venture.

Independently, the Dutch innovator frans van der reep  calls for banks to wake up (banks – wake up!)



To be concrete? You could create attention for Crowdfunding and P2P banking in your marketing strategies, on your websites and in your customer contacts. If you don´t want to give a loan, tell your customer about the alternative possibilities. Act, with or without a commission, as a matchmaker for the P2P world. Connect your wealth and your professional reputation to estimate financial risks with crowdfunding. Create and implement  Schumpeters ‘Neue Kombinationen’.

Actually you would do exactly the same as we’ve seen in Belgium in November 2011: make a direct link between the citizen and the state. That could also happen between citizen and citizen or between citizen and company. And it would be possible in the financial world. And you are the ones who can accelerate and facilitate this! You could start building the metaphorical extra asphalt and roads directly and open them up in this wealthy country where the money is currently flowing at slightly too slow a pace. You would be doing us a great service and it would give the Netherlands as an innovative e-country an enormous impulse.  Who’s first?

So, the question is: Are we going to see crowdfunding become more mainstream? 

There seems to be some policy movement in this direction. Congressman McHenry explains how his “crowdfunding bill” provides startups and small businesses with much-needed capital by finally allowing “ordinary” Americans to enter a market long dominated by “accredited” (read: already rich) investors.  You can listen to the podcast by clicking the “play” button below or through this direct link (right click to save).


Privacy – Hindsight makes us wiser: Will we NOW think of privacy from first principles after the Google privacy changes?


Privacy – hindsight is a wonderful thing ..

This week, the rubber hits the road for privacy – with the new Google privacy changes becoming live on March 1. Google’s privacy changes have sparked a Europe wide inquiry. Google is ‘simplifying’ its privacy rules by consolidating 60 policies into a single one.  Users cannot opt out of the new policy if they want to continue using Google’s services. Quietly at the same time, Twitter also makes a major change by selling its archive to marketers. It is now possible for businesses to pay a fee to access all of the tweets written on Twitter going back to January 2010. While individuals can access their own tweet archive for the last 30 days, companies can get individuals’ archives from 2010 onwards (for a fee ofcourse .. ).  Not to be left behind, Douglas Rushkoff says that You are Facebook’s product, not customer

These changes illustrate a fundamental problem.

We do not think of privacy from first principles (we think of privacy only retrospectively).

While Google can ask us to ‘take our data and walk away’ if we want to (The Google funded Data liberation foundation allows you to ‘liberate’ your own data ..)  - it is not possible to do this in retrospect i.e. if you as a customer were told in advance that the service would change dramatically, you may have second thoughts about signing up in the first place.  But having signed up, it is hard to leave and companies know that only too well.

Privacy by design and webinos

For a long time, Ann Cavoukian – the current Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Canadian province of Ontario – has been a lonely voice advocating for Privacy by design (which advocate incorporating privacy from the outset into a new product/service).

A few products like webinos, which I have been working with over the last year, have privacy principles inbuilt into them.

Webinos has been at the forefront of implementing these ideas i.e. how a system could be designed with privacy at the centre (and not as an afterthought).  The User expectations on privacy and security document from webinos  describes three significant contributions: a high level review of the state of the art in user expectations of security and privacy, a detailed model of the context of use of webinos based on the user stories and use cases created in other deliverables, and a high level threat analysis based on this context of use. The context of use model consists of a detailed set of personas, tasks and environment models, aimed at understanding, representing and supporting different stakeholder perspectives throughout the design and development of webinos.  Overall, 18 personas (representing a selection of users, developers and attackers), 10 tasks and their associated environments have been investigated, modelled and validated, together with 6 attack trees representing significant high-level threats to webinos. The webinos security and privacy APIs also give more implementation details

Privacy – the tangible and the philosophical issues

Why are these ideas (implementing privacy from first principles like webinos does) significant now?

After every computing cycle, we become wiser to the strategies of the previous cycle.

In I’m Being Followed: How Google—and 104 Other Companies—Are Tracking Me on the Web – Alexis Madrigal says that the issue is beyond tech:

Most privacy debates have been couched in technical. We read about how Google bypassed Safari’s privacy settings, whatever those were. Or we read the details about how Facebook tracks you with those friendly Like buttons. Behind the details, however, are a tangle of philosophical issues that are at the heart of the struggle between privacy advocates and online advertising companies: What is anonymity? What is identity? How similar are humans and machines?

Thus, we will see more on this subject in terms of philosophy, regulation (ex- EU regulation) and ofcourse technology.

We are just beginning to see the impact of the Google privacy changes in mobile. Alex Hanff, a privacy campaigner from Lancaster has filed a test claim for £400 at the small claims court. He claims Google’s new privacy policy is “a significant infringement of the right to privacy” that cannot be avoided by Britain’s 9.3 million Android users unless they buy a alternative handset. This is because some applications like Android Market cannot be used without a Google account (whose permissions have changed due to privacy regulations).

Perhaps it is time to reconsider privacy and incorporate it from the outset as opposed to treating it as an afterthought

Image source: America explained