Living Labs: Co-creating Possibilities In The Smart Cities

How Living Lab Initiatives Can Help Shape The Cities of Tomorrow?

The concept of ‘living lab’ is popular in smart cities as it brings producers, thinkers, innovators, and consumers under one umbrella. Although the concept may vary depending on the perspectives, focus and ideologies implemented, the purpose of development is the same – to exchange and experience knowledge. In simple words, living labs are meant to provide space that can help everyone work towards solving modern urban challenges.

While we are talking about living labs, it is hard to ignore the controversial project of Sidewalk Toronto. Although the project was about to be complete by the end of 2022, it has failed to lay the foundations. But hopefully, as reports show, the construction will commence in late 2019 or early 2020. Until the clouds of controversy disappear, it is hard to say whether this project will really succeed in its vision. 

Let us hope of the best, and till then talk about some very interesting living labs that are already on the move. We have picked up diverse living lab initiatives to give you an idea of how living labs can help shape the cities of tomorrow more insightfully. 

Helsinki’s Living Lab For All-in-one Neighbourhood 

The Finnish capital is thriving in many areas of smart cities. While the city of Helsinki has numerous living lab projects under the belt, one of them is ‘Smart Kalastama’ which was previously recognised as an industrial area.  

The most intriguing part of this project is that it will have a full-fledged city within a city by 2030.  By the end of completion, the Kalastama district will have 25,000 residents, and job for over 10,000 people. The core aim of this district is to provide an urban lab and a vibrant testbed of smart and sustainable new solutions and services.

At present, 3,000 people are living in homes that are part of the experiments being conducted to test the potential of future technology. 

In the midst of working to test the smart city environment of Kalastama, the project also focuses on saving one hour each citizen. So that they can enjoy leisure with their hobbies and engage themselves in social activities. This is being done by implementing strategies that improve traffic flow, remote working facilities, local smart services and reduce the need for red tape. 

Some of the smart infrastructure services have been automated which include Hima Smart metering and home remote control service. These help the residents communicate and manage their appliances by mobile devices. An innovative waste collection system is also in place that involves different colour bins coded as per the waste category. The residents just sort out the waste which is sucked at the exit point bu a vacuum that follows into underground pipelines transporting the waste at the local waste management facility at a speed of 40 miles/hour. 

Furthermore, the residents have crowdfunded solar power plant that supplies green power to the people living in apartments. This even comes as a benefit to those who cannot afford to have their own solar systems. Another advantage is that the energy consumption is monitored in real-time and the yield of the solar panels is directly credited to each one’s electricity bill. 

The new technologies being tested by residents with local companies at Kalastama will continue for a span of six months.  

This and many other projects in Helsinki are contributing to its smart city success. Thanks to the collaboration across stakeholder including over 30 city departments, citizen organisations, small and medium enterprises, startups, and academia. 

The participants of the project meet at Smart Kalasatama Innovators Club four times in a year to share news and help develop their ecosystem.  

Living Lab For Modern Ageing 

What is Living Lab for Modern ageing?

Adelaide in South Australia is known for its unique smart city initiaitives. The Global Centre for Modern Ageing in the city has established a living lab called ‘Lifelab’ within the facility. It is aiming to drive change in the lives of the elderly by attracting businesses, governments, researchers to work together.    

Actually, the highlight of the lab is that it enables people in their 60s and above to co-create products and services by collaborating with businesses in a place that gives a very close to real-world like atmosphere. 

The focus of innovation and co-creation is on market segments like food, packaging, assistive devices, technology, education, lifelong learning and active living. 

The Lifelab will help individuals, organisations and enterprises, to innovate, develop, and commercialise products and services by leveraging market development, partnerships, research, and learning. 

This project will be able to serve even better as South Australia is home to the highest number of aged population in the country. More importantly, it is has been proving itself to be a global leader in the advancing industry of ‘ageing well’ for years.  

In fact, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country will have 8.8 million people aged above 65 years. This will be 21% of the total population of Australia. 

Raymon Spencer, chair of Global Centre for Modern Ageing, the modern ageing movement identified that there was a significant shift in how the elderly lived. 

He continued, “Instead of working until retirement and then becoming ‘old’, in modern ageing our lives play out in phases. Each phase creates a new and different opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way – through work, learning, enterprise, leadership and community.”

The first projects launched by the Centre will advance with global tech firm IBM and leading publisher Pacific Magazines.  

Today, older people seek for more and better opportunities that can enable them to continue participating as volunteers or workers. As envisioned by the initiators, they want all residents to live meaningful lives while enjoying good health and thriving in the refreshing environment of South Australia. 

The Global 5G Living Lab 

Infosys, Indian IT outsourcing multinational corporation headquartered in Bengaluru has recently launched 5G living lab in Melbourne, Australia. This initiative is part of its major project to develop 5G living labs in five cities situated in different countries across the globe. These include Bengaluru (India), Frankfurt (Germany), Indianapolis (US), Melbourne (Australia) and Richardson (UK).

Before establishing a 5G living lab in Melbourne, the firm has already commenced the project in Bengaluru in March 2019. 

As per the company, the 5G living labs will serve clients and partners with a platform to research, develop, and implement 5G solutions. It will help organisations to become “live enterprises” as it will be an opportunity to explore and create new economies with 5G technology. 

Further, it also stated that Melbourne living lab will provide a 5G test site that will catalyse experimentation of new technologies. The lab will enable connecting the most effective emerging technologies expertise in areas such as AI, AR, IoT, VR. 

Melbourne lab is Infosys’ first establishment outside the city of Bengaluru. It is expected that the project will significantly assist in imagining our future and thereby enhance life in urban environments.