Smart city leaders: Tel Aviv sets ambitious smart city apps agenda

Tue, 2013-05-28 11:28 -- Jesse Berst

It's no longer news when a major city announces its intention to be a world leader in smart city services. But it is illuminating to drill down to see what those cities mean by that announcement. And, especially, what kind of smart city applications they intend to build. I think you'll find Tel Aviv's priorities quite interesting. Ticket reservations and discounts, anyone? -- Jesse Berst, Smart Cities Council Chairman


Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai launched an ambitious plan to put Israel's second largest city at the forefront of the move to digital government, as reported by the Times of Israel. Dubbed “Digi-Tel,” the initiative will allow residents to do all municipal business online, from paying real estate taxes to filing requests for permits, license applications and renewals.

But Tel Aviv plans to go well beyond e-government. It also intends to supply free Wi-Fi in public spaces plus a variety of other tailored services:

    • Event listings -- tailor-made information about events based on their neighborhoods and their preferences
    • Ticket reservations -- reserve and pay for tickets to the theater, sporting events, after-school activities, etc. (plus a discount on museums, plays, concerts and other cultural activities)
    • Traffic reports -- get up-to-the-minute reports on what streets are closed for construction and where an accident has just taken place
    • Online access to city information -- building permits, planning reports, committee reports, tax bills, school fees, etc. (plus the ability to pay online)
    • A parking app -- see the location of available spaces on your smart phone

A key aspect is the plan for an Open Data platform -- an API that will let developers grab information from various databases to build useful applications. “We have done a lot to encourage creative entrepreneurs to move to the city," Huldai said. "Now we want to marshal this talent to... make life easier for residents.” Later this year the city will sponsor a contest for developers, providing help to those who come up with promising ideas.

How will Tel Aviv pay for this grand scheme? “It’s true that it costs money, but it is going to save even more money,” said Huldai. “In the end, we are all, government and residents, going to come out ahead.”

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