City of Things


City of Things brings the Internet of Things to the city. It is a one-of-a-kind initiative, connecting 200.000 urban citizens with developers and tech entrepreneurs, through a massive amount of smart devices spread over the city of Antwerp. 

With this 100% realistic living lab and technical testbed environment, MOSAIC and its partners offer tech entrepreneurs a lean and powerful gateway to large-scale network experiments, real-time big data, ideal for the development, testing and optimization of products and services with a positive impact on citizen life and work. It also enables governments to take smart decisions and offer improved services for citizen mobility, safety and quality of life.

City of Things consists of both a complete living lab methodology and a technical testbed infrastructure, more information is available on the imec City of Things website. Within the project MOSAIC develops and operates the technical testbed, in what follows we describe the goals and approach in more detail.


Technical testbed

While there is a considerable research and innovation effort related to the deployment of smart cities, there are still plenty of hurdles to move from R&D to implementation and real mass-scale deployment.

Testbeds are the preferred tools for academic and industrial researchers to evaluate their research ideas and initial results in a larger environment. Fully controlled and strongly managed testbeds, which provide guarantees on interference levels, are ideal for controlled experiments. However, while these controlled experiments are well suited for early stage experiments, there is a need as well for scaling the experiment up to more realistic environments.

Existing smart city testbeds often have some or more of the following downsides. First, they are often small-scale both in terms of device count (tens to hundreds) and in terms of geographic location (often only a single room or building). Second, most testbeds are very homogeneous focusing on only one wireless protocol (e.g., ZigBee or WiFi only testbed). Third, testbeds are either oriented towards wireless communication experiments (typical FIRE testbeds) or oriented towards the end-users (i.e., incorporating a living lab).  A combination of both is often lacking.

City of Things, a partnership between imec, the City of Antwerp and Flanders, wants to take the next step, building a Smart City IoT research testbed where industrial and academic research can be performed in a realistic, city-wide setting covering the complete eco-system for low-level wireless communications up to high-level living lab research.

To realize this, imec has partnerships with the Antwerp city council and its ICT service provider. As a result, more than 70 locations around the city of Antwerp and its harbor will be equipped with gateways supporting multiple wireless IoT communication protocols. These gateways will connect with hundred to thousands of wireless sensors, measuring smart city parameters such as traffic flows, energy consumption, noise, air pollution, etc. This integrated view allows performing innovative both communication and data oriented experiments in a realistic, large-scale city environment with application domains ranging from a single home, over a harbor up to the entire city.


The City of Things testbed will become a highly realistic, cross-technology testbed platform which validates key Smart Cities R&D results and facilitates innovative Smart City experiments on top of a large-scale testbed environment. The key characteristics of the City of Things testbed are:

  • City-wide deployment: City of Things covers both the harbor and inner city.
  • Cross-technology: the City of Things nodes will support all major wireless technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy, DASH7, IEEE 802.15.4, LORA and Sigfox (only for sensors).
  • Multi-purpose: experiments can cover either a dense and small location (e.g., a home) but can scale to the entire city (including the harbor).
  • Multi-level openness: we allow experimenters to interact with the testbed on three levels.
    • Communication-level: network researchers can deploy their own network protocols on top of the nodes to evaluate their solutions in a realistic city-wide network.
    • Data-level: the City of Things nodes will continuously monitor the city parameters through a range of sensors. This will provided as open data to experimenters.
    • User-level: using a living lab approach we will engage with users, allowing them to provide their input on novel smart city applications.


What's in it for you?

Are you a

  • Sensor provider? Insert your sensors in a realistic, high-scale city testbed to evaluate your sensor performance.

  • Data analyst? Get access to realistic sensor data from within a major European city, and exploit real-life data sets.

  • Network experimenter? Run your tests and experiments on a managed platform in a real city environment, to validate your research in a much more realistic setting compared to other, more artificial testbeds.

  • User researcher? Exploit the availability of large-scale data from real users living and working in a big city, to perform user research with real data.

Interested? Contact us!


More information

Interested to join the beta program? Contact us!