Nerve Tracts for the Smart City

© Marco Saracco/

The Smart City is one of today's major hypes. Everything is to become more progressive, more efficient, cleaner. A lot of projects are working towards this goal. What is lacking, however, is a comprehensive platform that lets a broad range of municipal applications work together. In the European ALMANAC project, Fraunhofer FIT is working with international partners to develop a prototype of such a platform. A key component of this platform is LinkSmart, a service-oriented middleware developed at Fraunhofer FIT.

The first big hurdle in implementing Smart City projects is to work with the existing municipal services, infrastructures, databases and other resources. Here we must accept as given the current technological situation of all the players involved, including waste disposal systems, electric utility companies, water supply companies and telecom providers. Only in a second step will it be possible to implement new technologies and to bring them together with the existing systems.

This is exactly the problem that the European ALMANAC (acronym for Reliable Smart Secure Internet Of Things For Smart Cities) project works on. It is building an open Smart City platform that provides a comprehensive technological basis for a wide range of Smart City applications. One key component of the platform is Fraunhofer FIT's LinkSmart, a service-oriented middleware that provides for semantic interoperability of heterogeneous resources, devices and services. Open interfaces to external services make it possible to continually enhance the platform and corresponding applications. Obviously, privacy and secure communication are important aspects here.

The technical work in ALMANAC is driven by the Smart City requirements of the City of Torino. Here we selected three application fields in which to develop and test the ALMANAC platform: waste management, water supply and citizen engagement. Leading the project on the technical side, Fraunhofer FIT develops the overall system architecture. In addition, FIT works closely with the City of Torino and the local waste management organization on sustainable waste management business cases built on top of the ALMANAC platform. For the initial application, municipal waste containers were equipped with fill-level sensors. Their data are collected via the ALMANAC platform and used by the waste management organization to optimize their logistics and truck routes.

As an initial step to increase citizen engagement, the project deployed an app that the citizens can use to report spots in the city that need to be cleaned. The ALMANAC platform delivers this information to the municipal administration, which feeds it into their existing ticket management system.