• The Magic Walkway
  • The Magic Walkway

The Magic Walkway (c) by CGEOS16/12/2015

Ladies, would you prefer an intelligent, very intelligent or sensitive man? This is an issue for the residents of a city. Would they like a smart city or a sensitive city? With all the international hype surrounding Smart Cities we are seeing colossal investments of €400 million for Belgium and more than €2 billion for Europe, with billions of Euros being invested on a global level! And we can already find more than 200 definitions of a smart city.

And why use only the left side of our brain (logical, rational, digital) when it is the right side that controls creativity, emotion and invention?

The good news is that the key to the success of a project like this lies in the involvement of the citizens and residents.

Ask a polling company whether it is easy to find involved citizens! Work - commute - sleep is the general rule and if someone stops you in the street to ask you a question you will surely answer "no!" before even hearing what the question is.

Our solution is to involve residents by creating new communities around urban infrastructures as part of a "smart city" programme.

And the first infrastructures that we have identified are bridges and walkwaysA bridge is actually a very strong symbol, as it connects two banks, two communities and sometimes two worlds.

And we know all about bridges, particularly long bridges such as the Tsi Ma Bridge in Hong Kong, the Yeongjong Bridge in Seoul, many others in China and the Tancarville and Normandie bridges in France. We have fitted them with hundreds of sensors for monitoring. This is not the case in Belgium, however, despite the remarkable age of some bridges.

Based on this experience, we told ourselves that if we fit a bridge or walkway with sensors to provide information for a city's engineers and technical services, we could also let it speak, but even better, thanks to the Internet of Connected Things, we could also talk to it. And that is what we are proposing: the magic walkway!

We can give the community of people using the walkway a unique experience based around a "social network" platform that we have expanded from "person-to-person" relations to "person-to-thing" and "thing-to-thing" relations.

Depending on the temperature, the wind strength and the humidity, we can modulate Vivaldi's Four Seasons or the public lighting. But this data is also important for the city's services, which will give priority to gritting the most exposed bridges during periods of frost.

If you become friends with the bridge or walkway, it will greet you and remember your emotions; lovers will be able to leave their first kiss there and attach their own virtual love lock.

Even better, bridges are strategic nubs for a city's traffic. They are often the cause of traffic jams and thus increase noise and pollution. Traffic and pollution are two of the six parameters that Smart Cities are designed to address. If you become a member of the bridge community, it will notify you or, even better, free up a fast lane for you.

Urban infrastructures are becoming organic and able to feel, express and therefore help you.

This seems so romantic and poetic, but unfortunately, walkways in particular are places that experience high levels of crime. In Namur, female university students are afraid to use the Salzinnes walkway in the dark and security cameras will not chase off aggressors. If you are a female student and are friends with the walkway, it will protect you by surrounding you with lots of lights, for example (safety).

We believe that the magic walkway is therefore a wonderful proposition for involving the city's residents, creating magic, developing new communities and informing the city's technical services about its stability. Furthermore, the data flows can be opened up and allow young creators to develop new applications and make a living from them.

So? Sensitive or intelligent? We are convinced that our proposal will aim to make cities smart when they have become more sensitive.

So give us a bridge or walkway, and we will enchant you with our magic partner eco-system. My name is Joël van Cranenbroeck and I am the Director of Creative Geosensing. The Magic Walkway is 100% designed and created in Wallonia. SENSE YOU VERY MUCH !

CGEOS Engineering Geodesy Consultancy