Findings from Street Lab

Street Lab is a living lab in downtown Copenhagen set up to test and evaluate smart city solutions. Since Street Lab opened in summer 2016, we have tested an array of different smart city solutions. All of the use cases are centred around an urban challenge, i.e. improving air quality, making it easier for car drivers to find a free parking spot or planting more trees in the city.

Below you will find the main findings gathered from the use cases. We are sharing our findings here in order to inspire innovation in other cities and solution providers.

Smart City Infrastructure

The objective with this use case has been two-folded; to gather experiences from daily operations of a digital infrastructure and to help install different smart city solutions (sensors) from vendors, quick and easy.

The main finding from the smart city infrastructure project, is that infrastructure must be designed and tailored to specific needs and purposes rather than as an all-purpose infrastructure.

A second, more pracitcal finding is that it turned out to be more complicated than expected to find appropriate spots for mounting the equipment. A valuable lesson when planning smart city projects in a historical city setting.

Wi-Fi  as a standard for wireless communication was not ideal for battery-driven sensors, because it is too energy intensive.

Intelligent Waste Management

The aim of this use case was to test how the city, can optimize waste collection and reach a higher service level with digital tools. We tested different ultra sonic sensors which monitors individual waste bins and offers dynamic route planning based on near real-time data.

Initial, small scale tests showed potentials for optimization by using a sensor and dynamic route planning solution. A large scale test will be carried out to verify the initial findings.

A valuable lesson is that the solution including business model and data ownership must be customized to the specific needs and work routines in Copenhagen.


Real Time Air Quality Monitoring

The objective of this use case has been to test the potential of smaller and cheaper sensors as a supplement to existing air quality monitoring stations. Data from small sensors can give us a more detailed, local picture from areas not today covered today which can be used in traffic management and as a service to citizens.

The main finding is that if data is used as a basis for decisions it is crucial that the quality of the data is verified. However, the combination of low price and compact size plus the opportunity to combine it with other datasets (e.g. traffic flow) has great potential.

Smart Parking

The aim of the use case was to test the applicability of optical parking sensors in Copenhagen as a way to provide information on available parking spots to drivers.

When tested in the streets of Copenhagen it proved difficult to find a suitable spot to mount the optical sensor where it would cover enough parking spaces to make the solution an attractive solution.

Based on the learnings from Street Lab the City of Copenhagen now looks at software-based smart parking solutions, rather than physical equipment which needs to be installed in the urban environment.

Smart Plant Management

Copenhagen has a goal of planting 100,000 more trees. The objective of this use case was to test the potential of a smart solution which could assists the gardeners daily maintenance tasks as well as reduce water consumption for irrigation. The solution we tested was moisture sensors which can alert gardeners when trees need watering and provide route planning.

The solution tested was an early prototype which failed to connect to the Wi-Fi infrastructure in Street Lab. The solution needs more development before the potential can be accessed.