Agoria Smart City Forum

Last month, Agoria organised the Agoria Smart Cities Forum & Award Ceremony for the fifth time in Brussels. The event was attended by some 300 city and municipal council representatives and they had the opportunity to discuss the approach they will take to the transition to smart cities, towns and local government areas with specialists from technology companies.

Highly practical low-entry level projects were highlighted by demonstrations and case studies. The keynote speaker was Barney Smith, who is CEO of ‘Bristol is Open’ in the UK. With the Bristol is Open programme, collaboration between the city council and the University of Bristol revolves round an extensive network of partners who are working closely together to develop innovative smart applications.

The winners of the annual Smart City Awards were announced at the end of the day. These awards are presented to towns, cities and municipalities that invest in technological innovations designed to improve the lives of their residents.

Bonheiden, Kortrijk and Hasselt won Agoria Smart City Awards, with Houffalize, Comblain-au-Pont and Brugelette also among the prizes.

The municipality of Bonheiden won the Agoria Smart City Award this year for its a bicycle registration system linked to a rewards programme. The city of Kortrijk received a Smart Mobility award for its smart parking systems for both cars and two-wheelers. Hasselt was also recognised for its plan to redesign the city’s Kapermolenpark. Local residents were able to use a digital (mobile) app to submit and discuss ideas among themselves for the plans to revitalise the main park in Hasselt.

The Agoria Smart City Award for ‘Energy’ went to Comblain-au-Pont, where the town hall is now self-sufficient in energy thanks to the installation of a power turbine in the ‘mill race’ (a nearby location where a powerful water source rises to the surface), as well as a system for remote management and photovoltaic panels. Houffalize won the Agoria Smart City Award for ‘Living’ with its ‘Letsgocity’ app, the ‘smart friend’ that enables locals and tourists alike to connect with the council departments and traders so that they can access a whole range of information. The Agoria Smart City Award for ‘Digital’ went to Brugelette and the SPW (Wallonia Public Service) for gathering objective and reliable information about traffic flows at the Pairi Daiza zoo and botanical gardens, enabling an efficient traffic plan to be put in place.

Partnership Eurofiber and Citybeacon

The fact that Eurofiber was at the forum with CityBeacon did not go unnoticed. CityBeacon and Eurofiber have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at countering the over-abundance of applications, information boards and connectivity capabilities. “The CityBeacon terminal not only provides functional information, such as the nearest car park, coffee bar or route information, but it also links your smartphone with free high-speed Wi-Fi,” explains Wim Van den Broeck, managing director of CityBeacon.

The success of projects such as CityBeacon rests on the quality of the connectivity. Hans Witdouck, CEO from Eurofiber: “Our aim is to guarantee the fast exchange and constant availability of data. Eurofiber offers a fiber-optic network with national coverage, connecting all of the Belgian datacenters and providing a direct link to all the major cloud platforms. That way, data stored in the cloud is always available quickly and securely.”

The first interactive CityBeacon terminals have been installed in Eindhoven. Both parties are now looking at launching the concept in the main cities in Belgium and showing our country the way to smart cities.