Northern Ireland Leads the Charge on Smart Cities

DSP Valley member Invest NI showcases the progress and projects making Northern Ireland’s cities smart.

There’s no denying that the events of 2020 sparked a frank discussion on the pros and cons of city-living. But long before COVID19, most of us recognised that our urban environments needed change and fresh life breathed into them, and technology could potentially hold the key. ‘Smart’ solutions, as they have become known, are now being implemented in communities across the world with the goal of improving quality of life.

This smart revolution is already well underway in Northern Ireland, where digital infrastructure has long been a priority. Cities like Belfast are tapping into the nation’s expertise in sectors spanning technology, cyber security, data analytics and advanced manufacturing to unlock a diverse range of technology-based initiatives to deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits for citizens.

The city was one of the first in the UK to be selected for BT’s 5G network roll-out and, as part of its ambition to become a Smart Port, Belfast Harbour has partnered with BT to trial 5G maritime innovations.

Supporting the pioneers

Over the past decade, Northern Ireland has carved out a niche for itself as a fast-growing and vibrant technology hub.

With more than 1,200 technology companies and 28,000 people employed in Northern Ireland’s ICT sector alone, we are a hotbed for talent across technology and data science industries. This, combined with our academic leadership in cyber security research, makes Northern Ireland ideally placed to lead the charge as the world looks toward smart cities opportunities.

Cutting-edge smart solutions are being developed and implemented across Northern Ireland today, bolstered by initiatives like the Northern Ireland Internet of Things Network (NI-IoT). Led by Ulster University, a free-to-use network that helps businesses develop IoT solutions with wide geographic ranges while using minimal energy and which is now supporting the nation’s many burgeoning smart city opportunities.

One business to benefit from the IoT infrastructure in Northern Ireland is See.Sense. The team develops smart cycling solutions that are revolutionising the experiences of cyclists in Northern Ireland today.

See.Sense uses intelligent bike lights and GPS bike trackers, powered by sensor technology and AI, to improve the safety and experience of cyclists, while also providing cities with data insights to help inform their planning.

Beyond cycling, the electric vehicles (EVs) market is also being rebooted with smart solutions to help make cities more accessible and ultimately, more sustainable. Just last month, the contractor Triex EV installed the first ‘pay-as-you-charge’ electric vehicle charging point for residential apartments in Coleraine.

The business case for smart cities

Smart technology is not only transforming life for Northern Ireland’s city dwellers, it has also opened an exciting and fast-growing market for smart city solutions, with boundless opportunities for collaboration between industry and academia.

Two of our world-renowned universities, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, offer access to eight clusters of world-class AI research in core data science, cyber security, hardware, internet of things, medicine, robotics, economy, and multimedia analytics.

The access Northern Ireland offers to some of the brightest minds in R&D has encouraged a diverse cluster of smart city companies to set up operations here.

ANGOKA is one business that was attracted by Northern Ireland’s R&D credentials. The team at ANGOKA protects the machine-to-machine communication that enables smart city initiatives to run. ANGOKA works behind the scenes to safeguard everything from the personal data stored in smart home devices to the communication channels between drones.

Within Belfast’s technology cluster, you can also find Anaeko, a hybrid cloud integrator that helps organisations adopt cloud computing. Founded in 2004, the company is going from strength-to-strength and has helped integrate data and analytics solutions in a diverse range of sectors including utilities.

Another technology innovator focused on improving efficiency is Kinsetsu, which provides organisations with intelligent tracking solutions that automate and optimise their tasks and services. For instance, its product HomeHug helps elderly people live independently at home for longer by providing their loved ones with data about the home environment including temperature and movement.

Looking ahead

It’s an exciting time for Northern Ireland. The nation has carved out a niche for itself as an incubator for smart city companies and we’re committed to staying at the top of our game. And as the world prepares for a number of significant changes that lie on the horizon, from the green economy to the widespread adoption of 5G and the advent of autonomous vehicles, Northern Ireland is well-equipped to drive positive change.

There are plenty of opportunities for the DSP Valley ecosystem to get involved in the exciting developments happening in Northern Ireland.

Interested in learning more or becoming part of the solutions?

Contact Emilien Thorin and check out Invest NI’s website.

COOCK Open City Workshop: Learnings from international and local smart city initiatives

27 April 2021 @ 10:00 12:00 CEST

An open city allows urban challenges to be tackled using data. On the one hand, data must be shared in a uniform and scalable manner so that it forms the foundation for building specific views for a particular domain. On the other hand, the data (especially in the case of sensors as a data source) must be of sufficiently high quality so that true visualization models can be built. All these aspects are dealt with in a bottom-up, three-part COOCK workshop.

This workshop (part three) is built up as follows:
• We start with an overview of state-of-the-art data platforms and which interoperability principles are followed.
• Next, the learnings of rolling out a network of air quality sensors in the Smart Zone in Antwerp will be explained.
• Finally, the processes, tooling and used semantic standards of the City of Things projects Databroker, MoDi and ANPR are explained.

The contact person for this workshop is Katelijne Vervaet (imec).


10.00 – 10.05 Intro by IMEC-EDIT, Stefan Lefever
10.05 – 10.45 How is the international ecosystem evolving? by IMEC-EDIT, Stefan Lefever
10.45 – 11.05 Learnings from the Antwerp smart zone by IMEC-NL, Valerio Panzica La Manna
11.05 – 11.30 Learnings from VLAIO City Of Things support (Databroker, MoDi and ANPR) by IMEC-IDLab Ghent, Brecht Van de Vyvere
11:30 – 11:45 Wrap-up and Q&A

Free Registration required


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COOCK Open City Workshop: Healthy Indoor Quality of Living

20 April 2021 @ 10:00 12:00 CEST

We usually ventilate our homes by opening windows or by using automatic ventilation but is this incoming air really that fresh? Or do we only make it worse by bringing in polluted outdoor air? Smart ventilation controlled by indoor and outdoor air quality, air purification in ventilation systems or in coatings on walls and windows, green facades that purify incoming air, a network of sensors that measure air quality online, etc. The possibilities for the improvement of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) are numerous and diverse but until now only rarely applied in practice. This workshop will define the problem and discuss the most important indoor pollutants, give an overview of what to measure and how to do it and pitch several technologies that can aid to purify indoor air.

The contact person for this workshop is Linus De Roo (UAntwerpen).


10.00 – 10.05 Intro, Linus De Roo (UAntwerpen)
10.05 – 10.50 Sources of indoor pollution and what/how to measure it, Marianne Stranger (VITO)
10.50 – 11.15 CO2 sensing and analytics in smart buildings, Valerio Panzica La Manna (IMEC-NL)
11.15 – 11.45 Air purification technologies, Linus De Roo (UAntwerpen)
11.45 – 12.00 Q&A, Linus De Roo (UAntwerpen)



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COOCK Workshop: IoT & Air Quality in Cities: Air Quality Modeling

23 March 2021 @ 10:00 12:00 CET

Over the past years, interest in air quality has increased resulting in many smart city solutions. This workshop will present an overview of air quality modelling for smart city applications, including refining air pollution maps by incorporating data from emerging sensor networks. Besides improving the real-time information, models can be applied to predict future air quality, predict scenarios, and determine sources of air pollution, linking to smart ventilation in smart buildings.

The contact person for this workshop is Stijn Vranckx (VITO).


10.00 – 10.15 Introduction: Air Quality Modelling and Smart city applications
10.15 – 11.00 Improved air quality information through coupling of sensors and models
11.00 – 11.20 Modelling the indoor & outdoor environment of smart buildings
11.20 – 11.40 Identification of air pollution sources and screening of air quality solutions
11.40 – 12.00 Q&A

Speakers: Stijn Vranckx and Jorge Sousa (VITO), Jelle Hofman (IMEC-NL)

Free Registration required


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MobiCoN Webinar: Help Build Hasselt’s Sustainable Mobility Vision (Dutch)

25 February 2021 @ 10:00 11:00 CET

Tijdens deze webinar willen we private spelers die een oplossing (shuttle, deelsystemen, ontwikkeling app, beveiligingscamera’s, laadinfrastructuren, …) kunnen bieden voor de inrichting van een mobipunt en de veilige en vlotte verbinding met de communities in en rond de stad informeren over het MobiCoN-project. Kom alles te weten over de verschillende deelprojecten binnen dit ambitieuze project en bouw mee aan de duurzame mobiliteitsvisie van de stad Hasselt!

Het stadsbestuur wil nieuwe vervoersmodellen faciliteren en implementeren die inspelen op een moderne en duurzame visie op duurzame verplaatsingen in en rond de stad. Denk hierbij aan het creëren van bereikbaarheid door in te zetten op een doorgedreven modal shift, door multimodaliteit naadloos te verwerven in slimme en gebruiksvriendelijke netwerken, door het koppelen van kwaliteitsvolle P&R-oplossingen, het stimuleren van deelmobiliteit en het koppelen van goed uitgeruste mobipunten.

Eén en ander past in de ruimtelijke- en mobiliteitsvisie van het Masterplan campus 11de linie om te komen tot een kwalitatieve, groene en autoluwe scholencampus verweven met het vernieuwde Kapermolenpark. Maar ook de hotspots Jessa Ziekenhuis en campus UHasselt in Diepenbeek worden betrokken binnen het Mobicon project.

Het MobiCoN-project omvat de uitwerking van de vlotte ontsluiting van enkele strategische locaties in en rond de binnenstad via een alternatief vervoersmodel gebaseerd op mobipunten. Concreet worden verschillende regionale en sub-regionale mobipunten op Hasselts grondgebied uitgerust met mobiliteitsdeelsystemen en hoogfrequente busshuttles zodat de eindgebruiker (werknemer/student) vlot op zijn eindbestemming geraakt.

In grote lijnen omvat het project de volgende onderdelen:

  • het inrichten van mobipunten: kwaliteit, veiligheid, urban services, informatie
  • de digitale ontsluiting met digitale borden en een innovatieve app: in one-stop-shop (parkeren, shuttle, deelmobiliteit) van A naar B
  • het invullen van de ‘last-mile’ (shuttles, deelfietsen, steps,….)
  • uitdiepen van de businesscase en het commercieel model voor de deelnemende ‘leveranciers’ en ‘gebruikers’ (inkomsten uit klant, stakeholders, advertising, bijkomende diensten)

Wil je meer te weten komen over dit ambitieuze project? Schrijf je dan hier in voor het webinar dat gehost zal worden door VOKA Limburg en Smart Cities Vlaanderen.

Free Inschrijving verplicht

Smart Cities Vlaanderen en VOKA Limburg


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COOCK Open City Workshop: Open City and Its Citizens

9 February 2021 @ 13:00 15:00 CET

This webinar is organized in the context of the Coock ‘Open City’ Project and deals with the topic of involving citizens in an open city. Not only can citizens provide local governments with necessary data to tackle certain challenges through citizen science projects, the government from its side can open up its data for re-use to develop certain solutions by its citizens. This raises certain questions: How can citizens be engaged in citizen science projects? How can collected data be made available towards citizens and companies? How can data then be re-used by citizens and companies? During this webinar we will answer these questions.


13:00 – 13:15 Intro by imec-SMIT, Koen Borghys

13:15 – 13:50 How to engage citizens: communication strategies for citizen science, by​ imec-SMIT, Carina Veeckman​ 

14:50 – 14:25 What is Open Data? by imec-SMIT, Koen Borghys

14:25 – 14:45 What are the OSLO principles? by imec-IDLab, Brecht Van de Vyvere​ ​

14:45 – 15:00 Wrap-up




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COOCK Open City Workshop: Connecting, Storing, and Publishing Sensor Data

2 February 2021 @ 09:00 11:00 CET

An open city allows urban challenges to be tackled using data. On the one hand, data must be shared in a uniform and scalable manner so that it forms the foundation for building specific views for a particular domain. On the other hand, the data (especially in the case of sensors as a data source) must be of sufficiently high quality so that true visualization models can be built. All these aspects are dealt with in a bottom-up, three-part COOCK workshop. 

This workshop (part one) is organized as follows: ​ 

  • We will start with a practical look at connecting sensors in the smart city. ​ 
  • We will continue with the different levels of interoperability to store and unlock this data and how this works concretely within the infrastructure of IDLab (Internet and Data science Lab). ​ 
  • Finally, research results will be shared about publishing real-time data as open data. ​ 


10:00 – 10:05 
Intro by imec-EDIT, Stefan Lefever 

10:05 – 10:35 
How to connect sensors today? by imec-IDLab, Johan Bergs 

10:35 – 10:55 
Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms and more by imec-EDIT, Stefan Lefever 

11:05 – 11:20 
General introduction to NGSI & available tools by IDLab Gent / imec-EDIT, Philip Leroux 

11:20 – 11:30 
Open Data Learnings from Imec CityOfThings project Observer by IDLab Gent, Brecht Van de Vyvere 

11:30 – 11:40 
Wrap-up and Q&A (10min)​ 

*Questions and issues with this workshop can be addressed to Bart Braem of the imec.



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Coock Open City First Workshop: Smart towards a high-quality living environment, a pioneering role for Flanders

12 January 2021 @ 13:00 17:00 CET

Learn more about the newly launched Coock Open City project during this first workshop!

“Open city – Knowledge transfer with regard to unlocking standards and best practices for one open ‘datafied’ society within the domain of environmental factors (air quality, sound, water, light, electromagnetic radiation, etc.) as the basis for innovation value models.”

The aim of the series of workshops is to unite knowledge institutions, policymakers and companies in order to make Flanders a model region in the field of smart monitoring and management of the living environment. A healthy living environment is perceived as pleasant, invites healthy behavior and causes the lowest possible pressure on health. Within the Coock project, the emphasis is on sound, air and electromagnetic radiation. In addition to monitoring the situation and impact on residents and users, a smart policy also requires a link with the pressure on this living environment. Traffic is important, for example, but it is certainly not the only driving force.

Topics of this first workshop in the series:

• From data to knowledge and prediction: ex. trend analysis; interpolation between measurements
• Data quality of living environment: ex. how to deal with a diversity of data; exchange of information between initiatives
• New sensors in a smart city context and their integration: ex. personal exposure monitoring

Agenda (4h online event):

• Ongoing policy initiatives (introduced by government agencies)
• Introduction of topics Noise, Electromagnetic, Air quality – followed by workshop with stakeholders
• Introduction to data collection, modeling, knowledge extraction – followed by workshop with stakeholders

Contributions from:
Karen Van Campenhout/Hans Reynders (Environment Department), Christophe Stroobants (VMM), Dick Botteldooren/Luc Dekoninck (UGent), Wout Joseph/David
Plets (imec), Martine Van Poppel (vito), Valerio Panzica La Manna (imec)

The workshop is free of charge. Are you unable to attend the webinar live? Register anyway, we will send the recording of the webinar to all registered participants.

*Questions and issues with this workshop can be addressed to Dick Botteldooren of the University of Ghent.




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Smart Cities Vlaanderen: More powerful than ever

Smart Cities Vlaanderen logo

In July, Citylab fully integrated its work for the Innovative Business Network (IBN) Smart Cities Vlaanderen with partner DSP Valley. “After more than a year and a half of successful collaboration with DSP Valley, it is time for this step,” says Citylab director Marc Schepers. “By bringing our business cluster fully under one roof, we will become more effective and create room for further development of Smart Cities Vlaanderen!”   

DSP Valley and Citylab are the driving forces behind the IBN Smart Cities Vlaanderen, which was started more than a year and a half ago with the support of various big names in the tech world. Although still at an early stage as an organization, the cluster has had a promising start, successfully bridging the gap between business and government. Their strength has been converting Smart Cities issues into concrete business cases for companies.

Dieter Therssen (left), CEO of DSP Valley, and Marc Schepers (right), director of Citylab, signing the merger official agreement regarding Smart Cities Vlaanderen.
Dieter Therssen (left), CEO of DSP Valley, and Marc Schepers (right), director of Citylab, signing the official merger agreement.

The two organizations are convinced that they are coming together at the right moment. Schepers declared, “It is now time to connect even more and to continue our cooperation with DSP Valley. That is why we decided to fully shift our co- promotorship to DSP Valley.” 

From his perspective as CEO of DSP Valley, Dieter Therssen emphasizes the need for an encompassing structure. “In Flanders, several initiatives have emerged in the field of smart cities in recent years , but there is not yet an overarching approach across the region. At the same time, the demand from local governments for smart city solutions is increasing exponentially,” he states. 

CEO of Living Tomorrow and president of Smart Cities Vlaanderen, Joachim De Vos agrees that the time for joining forces is ripe as the movement for smart cities gains momentum. This merger between DSP Valley and City Labs is the first step toward an even stronger Smart Cities Vlaanderen consortium.

Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), which financially supports the consortium through its subsidies for IBNs, is also on board. Asked for comment, a spokesperson confirmed, “This evolution makes the position of Smart Cities Vlaanderen more powerful and stable and allows them to support companies even better in the smart cities domain. It will enable the cluster to actively contribute to developing Flanders into a smart region.”

 The integration between Citylab and DSP Valley “enables us to accelerate our role as a matchmaker between companies and local authorities, building business consortia and creating a digital platform in the quadruple helix,” says Peter Vandeurzen, Cluster Manager for Smart Cities Vlaanderen. DSP Valley will further expand and strengthen the cluster from its office at the Corda Campus in Hasselt.

A bundled structure can also be the starting point for jumping from Flanders to Europe in the context of digitization. By coordinating smart cities initiatives, the desired critical mass and strength can be achieved to make Flanders a leading smart region in Europe.

All information about the Smart Cities Vlaanderen community and how to participate can be found on their website.


Smart Cities Vlaanderen Cluster
The cluster was founded by a number of steering group members and co-financed by VLAIO. The founding steering committee members are: Living Tomorrow with Joachim De Vos, chairman of the steering group, Nokia, Cronos Group, MyCsN, Tractebel Engie, Mediahuis, Hydroscan, Niko, and AllThingsTalk.

Together for strong, ambitious innovation
More starters, more stayers, more growers: that’s what we aim for! The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Agency and the Innovative Business Networks want to facilitate cooperation between companies, knowledge institutions and governments. Smart Cities Vlaanderen is one of these innovative business networks. Discover the others at the website. #growingstrong #sterkgroeien   

Smart City Workshops

25 June 2020 @ 13:00 15:00 UTC

We hereby enthusiastically invite you to participate in the SmartCities.Vlaanderen workshops we coordinate with partners CityLabWatt Factory, and The Beacon, coordinated by Programme Manager Mark De Colvenaer.

The workshop on 25 June will include the following speakers:
– Peter D’hoore, The Retail Factory: “Monitoring and analyzing footfall in cities”
– Sylvianne Van Butsele, Executive Director for The Design Sciences Hub at University of Antwerp: “Future Urban Health”

The aim of these workshops is to find concrete business cases that can be worked out step by step into specific outputs by a group of organizations. This is precisely what we at DSP Valley mean by “collaborative business development.” This workshop series will, as such, be supported by a global roadmap for the “Open Smart Region” of the future.

Connect members of DSP Valley, SmartCities.Vlaanderen, City Lab, and The Beacon may attend for free. Non-members (or DSP Valley members lower than Connect level) will be charged a fee.

DSP Valley


View Organizer Website


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