Overview Snap4City 2021: Smart aNalytic APp builder for sentient Cities and IOT


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Challenge and Context

Cities are rapidly transforming their services to take care of societal, environmental and economical nowadays challenges. The era of vertical smart solutions is to be overcome by solutions capable to exploit a huge range of data channels to increase confidence in the city assessment and control. Each city/area has its own peculiarities and needs a tailored attention on the definition of solutions, so as to reach a full control of KPI (key performance indicators) via flexible and dynamic platform. Most of the cities are leaving aside the idea of data sources and becoming aware of the presence of actual data channels where information and actions are flowing in multiple directions to implement the city operating system which every day needs activities for developing new processes and solutions to adapt life services to new challenges and events. A strong push in this direction is performed by national and international regulations, organizations and programmes as the European Commission, Sustainable Development Goals, Green Deal, by ISO, ISO indexes, WWF, which demonstrates that the trend is not only a global effort, as specific local adjustments and tools are needed. 

Snap4City is a 100% open-source platform developed by many partners under the coordination of DISIT Lab of the University of Florence, Italy. Since many years ago we started with Km4City, Knowledge Model for the City ontology and data aggregation tools. Presently, with Snap4City, incorporating Km4City, we are providing a number of real-time open-source solutions to support decision makers in cities and large industries to ground their daily operational actions on solid predictions, deductions and assessments. Such work is grounded on a complete l understanding of the context and its trends, based on getting early warning and anomaly detections, making predictions and performing what-if analysis, thus providing strategic interventions to improve city services and general quality of life, in multiple domains.

In 2019, Snap4City turned out to be the winner of the Select4Cities PCP of EC. Snap4City has been also the winner of the ENEL-X open data challenge in2020.  Currently is one of the platform of the EOSC (European Open Science Cloud), and we are proud to be Gold Member of FIWARE and an official Powered by FIWARE Solution. Snap4City has at present a wide range of activities in the smart city and IoT/IoE (Internet of Things/internet of Everything) integrated domains: defining city strategies, control room, computing key performance indicators which are daily used in both city and industry management. It is currently connecting more than 40 cities/areas in Italy, Spain, France, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Croatia, Israel, Sweden.

Snap4City has been active ever since its start in international contexts such as SCEWC, in Barcelona, with large stands and demo areas, and also on ICT Vienna of EC, IEEE Smart City, IEEE SmartComp, MajorCities, Eurocities, DMS, etc.


Snap4City solution covers a large range of scenarios such as:

  • mobility and transport (smart parking, traffic flow reconstruction, traffic flow prediction, offer vs demand of transportation analysis, vehicle tracking, routing, multimodal routing, smart biking, reducing traffic congestion, etc.);
  • energy (smart light, control room on energy production and recovering, recharging stations)
  • environment (monitoring, pollutant predictions, decarbonization, NOx prediction, NO2 KPI predictions, alerting, CO2 reduction, smart waste, ..);
  • Industry 4.0, depuration plant, production plants (monitoring industry plant, control and optimization, digital twin);
  • governmental control and KPI (people flow, tourism, POI, utilities, quality of life assessment and control, building automation, digital twin, sustainability, smart decision support).

In this large range of solutions, Snap4City is compliant with more than 100 protocols and it is interoperable with GIS (Geographical information systems), CKAN, Satellite formats and data, IoT Networks protocols (OMA NGSI, LoraWAN, SigFOX, OneM2M, MQTT, LwM2M, AMQP, COAP, Philips, Alexa, Sonoff, TPlink, etc.), Industry 4.0 protocols (OPC-UA, MODBUS, etc.), databases (MySQL, AS400, Azure, ORACLE, etc.), services (WS, Rest, etc.), microservices, media, social media, WebSocket, mobile App (to provide info, questionnaires, suggestions and to collect feedback, images, etc.), etc.

The Snap4City platform is FIWARE Compliant and exploits the IoT Orion Broker with its NGSI-V1 and V2 protocol, supporting protected communications and multiple broker connection. The interoperability of FIWARE plus the flexibility and modularity of Snap4City has allowed us to create solutions for covering a wide range of licence free applications. Snap4City enables the creation of federations of smart cities via its Smart City API and NGSI based solutions. All the Snap4City API are accessible and published in Swagger for developers.

Snap4City is compliant with ENOLL Living Lab concepts. Snap4City provides a living lab support from its portal and several open services where a large range of developer communities shares the same infrastructure and source code.

The Snap4City solution passed PENtest and vulnerability test from major experts in Europe and it has been proven to be GDPR compliant. With Snap4City, it is possible to create end-2-end event driven secure applications with secure connections from devices to dashboards, including data processing, storage and data analytics. Details of the architecture have been published on peer reviewed top journals having IEEE Access. The solution is distributed 100% open source including the application layer, multitenancy aspects, assessment and auditing, resource management, etc.

Snap4City solution can be installed on private and public cloud by starting from open source, virtual machine appliance, as well as from docker compose, all elements being licence free. A number of configurations from small stand-alone to very large installations are provided.

How it works

As above described, Snap4City solution is capable to work with multiple data channels of any kind. Once data channels are established, data are classified according to a Knowledge Base (based on Km4City), which is the City Expert System compliant with LD (linked data) and it can be queried for discovering and exploiting all the city relationships: spatial, temporal and relational. Multiple brokers, devices and edge devices can be connected and managed via the IoT Directory. Remote IoT Edge Devices can be maintained also updating the logic of control and data processing. Snap4City can manage with its GDPR compliant solution, both open and private data, for each domain and organization.

Snap4City Dashboard Builder provides a huge amount of graphic rendering tools to show and play with any kind of complex data (maps, Orthomaps, tables, trends, heatmaps, traffic flows, typical trends, calendar, Kiviat, barseries, custom widgets, animations, scenarios, routing, buttons, 3D, synoptics, etc.). They are composed by means of a Wizard assistant in a very simple and easy manner to create vertical solutions, as well complex applications with multiple dashboard and tools to control rooms. They realize event driven solutions working in real time and providing interactive web tools and mobile Apps, for operators and final users. The Snap4City Dashboard Builder integrates the Open Distro Kibana interface (as Grafana), thus providing a large number of more interactive features, joining 3D representation, Digital Twin representation and navigation, integration with workflow management systems for ticketing and management, synoptics for industrial monitoring and animations, etc.

Snap4City is fully integrated with data processing tools such as Node-RED of JS Foundation in which open Snap4City library is providing a large set of MicroServices for creating data adapters, integration, business logic and transformations. They can be also easily used to compute any kind of indicators and following of KPI may be needed by cities such as: ISO37120, 37122; EC indictor on pollutant, city indexes, etc.

In addition, Snap4City fully support the development of real time data analytics processes with machine learning, artificial intelligence and statistic languages such Python, Java, R-Studio, also exploiting Tensor Flow, Keras, etc., and any kind of library for data analysis, learning and deep learning. On this regard, Snap4City is also developing and distributing a number of Open Source data analytics tools and algorithms for prediction, anomaly detection, heatmap production, etc, and many others for smart parking, smart biking, traffic flow reconstruction, traffic flow prediction, NOX prediction, NO2 predictions, people flow analysis, public transportation analysis, routing, etc.  Data Analytics can be fully integrated into What-IF analysis tools in control room and for operators.

Benefit and Impact

The usage of Snap4City has brought improvement and has been of great benefit to a wide range of situations where it has been exploited. The very low costs for the implementation of changes, to be done directly by city operators, has impressed a lot users. Snap4City can be freely installed on premise with its full solution, which is 100% open source.

Its impact has been on:

  • mobility and transport: reducing people congestion, traffic congestion, monitoring and controlling traffic flow, simulating and analysing mobility and transport, smart parking;
  • environment: predicting NOX and long term NO2, monitoring pollutants of any kind and alerting, informing city users;
  • energy: recharging stations monitoring, smart light control;
  • strategic planning: performing what-if analysis with respect to critical conditions, planning production, system thinking on smart decision support system;
  • city management: predicting maintenance interventions, multichannel alerting, anomaly detection as early warning, etc.;
  • people flow: monitoring and alerting on critical cases.

The possibility of establishing bidirectional connections with data channels in the above-mentioned domain, has enabled to achieve higher levels in the data integration and exploitation, thus allowing the generation of unexpected hints and deduction, thanks to the support of the tools for data analysis and what-if analysis.

Added Value Through FIWARE

FIWARE has been adopted by Snap4City since 2016 as reported in our roadmap and it is an official Powered by FIWARE Solution. Thanks to its openness and spread, it has allowed a much faster integration and exploitation of the IoT aspects in the Smart City model of Km4City. The first usage of FIWARE with Snap4City has been in the industry and smart city fields.  Its capability and the compliance at European level allowed us to perform a huge number of integrations. 

Next Steps

Snap4City next steps are related to pushing the platform in several European and non-European Countries. Snap4City is continuously promoting the solution at both scientific and commercial levels, with its participating to large fair and expo as SCEWC, in Barcelona, and in many conferences of the IEEE, ACM, European Commission, KSI, etc. We are open to partnerships and welcome them, in order to enlarge the community of users and of developers, which may both take advantage from large accessing documentation and provide contributions in adding functionalities and tools to the solutions for the FIWARE and Snap4City communities.