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Porto Living Lab: turning the city of Porto into a lab for urban sciences and technologies for smart cities

Catarina Reis

Porto has been witnessing a remarkable shift in its business profile:
its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has been able to create
innovative companies with high employability rates. Porto can now be considered
an aggregator of innovation and entrepreneurship. In this ecosystem,
collaborative initiatives become even more important, especially when they
gather the elements of the quadruple helix.

Therefore, the emergence of the Porto Living Lab was a natural outcome
of this new context we are living in and a result of a
long-term partnership between the Academia and the Municipality.


In October 2012, the University of Porto kicked-off the Future Cities
project (a European-funded project) to expand the Center of Competence for
Future Cities of the University of Porto. The goals were to unlock the full
potential of interdisciplinary research in urban technologies, and to strength
knowledge transfer activities in close cooperation with local and global
industrial partners. Hence, the Center of Competence for Future Cities serves
as an agile collaboration platform for a critical mass of scientists and
engineers based at various schools of the University of Porto.

In 2013 Porto Digital, the Municipality of Porto and the University of
Porto joined efforts towards the creation of the Porto Living Lab. Porto
Digital is a private non-profit association, aiming at promoting ICT projects
within the context of the city of Porto and its metropolitan area.

Porto Living lab strongly
contributed to turning the city of Porto into a smart city and to raising its
national and international awareness in the smart cities’ domains

This living lab has allowed urban-scale experimentation and testing by
the R&D community, has enabled a free Wi-Fi service to be provided to the
public bus users in the city of Porto, engaged with end-users, and has empowered
a local start-up company to scale-up to global markets: Veniam.

Project Goals

Porto Living Lab aims to turn the city of Porto into a lab for urban
sciences and technologies for smarter cities, by providing different test beds
with a wide range of sensors and communication infrastructures. It, indeed,
comprises a network of wireless sensing and communication nodes that is
interoperable with the city’s optical fiber and Wi-Fi networks.

The living lab is creating the conditions for present and future
research and development using advanced technologies for data collection
through mobile platforms, wireless communication and large-scale information

It enables the development of research in areas such as sustainability,
mobility, urban planning and information and communication technology.

Having city-scale digital communication infrastructures, knowledge and
technologies on advanced sensing and communication technologies and political
will available, Porto Living Lab performs multidisciplinary research and
development, deployment of advanced sensing and communication technologies,
technology and proof-of-concept testing and demonstration at a city-scale,
technology transfer from academia to business, new services exploitation and
end-user engagement.


Porto Living Lab was instrumental in placing,
not only the University of Porto, but also the city of Porto on the map of
smart cities in Europe and worldwide. The project has proven the viability of a
city-scale mesh network of connected vehicles that become part of the city
infrastructure to expand wireless coverage for a wide range of smart city
applications. In addition, Porto Living Lab led to the creation and growth of a
university spin-off company, which is successfully translating the results of
the basic and applied research into products, services, qualified jobs and
export opportunities.

This blog article is written with reference to a good practice case study report prepared as part of the Erasmus+ University City Action Lab (UCITYLAB) Project.

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