"To be or to do?": The Semantics for Smart Cities and Communities

author: Paolo Traverso, Bruno Kessler Foundation
introducer: Craig A. Knoblock, Information Sciences Institute (ISI), University of Southern California
published: Dec. 19, 2014,   recorded: October 2014,   views: 2573


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The major challenge for so-called smart cities and communities is to provide people with value added services that improve their quality of life. Massive individual and territorial data sets – (open) public and private data, as well as their semantics which allows us to transform data into knowledge about the city and the community, are key enablers to the development of such solutions.
Something more however is needed. A “smart” community needs “to do things” in a city, and the people need to act within their own community. For instance, not only do we need to know where we can find a parking spot, which cultural event is happening tonight, or when the next bus will arrive, but we also need to actually pay for parking our car, buy a bus ticket, or reserve a seat in the theater. All these activities (paying, booking, buying, etc.) need semantics in the same way as data does, and such a semantics should describe all the steps needed to perform such activities.
Moreover, such a semantics should allow us to define and deploy solutions that are general and abstract enough to be “portable” across the details of the different ways in which activities can be implemented, e.g., by different providers, or for different customers, or for different cities. At the same time, in order to actually “do things”, we need a semantics that links general and abstract activities to the possibly different and specific ICT systems that implement them.
In my talk, I will present some of the main problems for realizing the concept of smart city and community, and the need for semantics for both understanding data and “doing things”. I will discuss some alternative approaches, some lessons learned from applications we have been working with in this field, and the still many related open research challenges.

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