API ParGarCom: how some problems have been solved

In a technological project, nothing is perfect and the programmer’s task, besides having to get used to new platforms and applications, is faced with a time limitation that forces him/her to look for a solution to the problem, either rethinking the task, asking for help or ignoring the initial approach because it is unfeasible.

One of the objectives of the experiments that are carried out within the Organicity project is to report on their evolution, and within this information report, to know the problems that have been had and how they have been resolved is key to report to the rest of the community and that it has knowledge of how the problem has been resolved.

Below Ida, who is responsible for the development of the ParGarCom API, lists some of the problems she has had with its development and how she has solved them:

1. Task: Learning OC API usage for retrieving and pushing assets.

a) Issue: Usage documentation is not clear, and not sufficient usage examples.

b) Solution: investigation in different web pages, including the “FIWARE-NGSI v2 Specification” web page which has good examples, and many of trial and error helped to understand the correct way to perform the requests.

2. Task: Installing SensiNact tool.

a) Issue: After installing the newest version of linux 17 on a virtual machine using virtual box, trying to install SensiNact following the installation documentation in OC website, resulted with error.

b) Solution: An email describing the issue was sent to our project coordinador, and he replied with a suggestion how to alter the deb command in the beginning of the installation, which resolved the issue.

3. Task: Usage learning and using SensiNact tool.

a) Issue: After installing the SensiNact tool, I launched it and tried to learn how to use it. It wasn’t so clear how to use it, and how get any benefits from this tool.

b) Solution: None. There was not direct need to use the SensiNact tool to our, and therefore I didn’t further investigate how to use it.

4. Task: Pushing assets repeatedly during developing and testing of the relevant script.

a) Issue: Sometimes the request to push asset returned error number 502 (Proxy error), and the asset was not created.

b) Solution: Running the request again resulted with success response and the asset was created.

5. Task: Pushing assets with real url to videos in Youtube or images in Google Drive.

a) Issue: Trying to push and asset to the project experiment with real url results with error, and the assets was not created. When trying to push the same asset, but with fake url, the asset was created successfully.

b) Solution: The video/image id is stored with a place holder in the asset, which is replaced with the real url when the asset is retrieved.

6. Task: Uploading images to be stored in Instagram.

a) Issue: When looking the correct way to upload images from the server to Instagram using Instagram API for developers it was found that Instagram not supply such API, and moreover, it is forbidden.

b) Solution: Images are uploaded to public folder in Google Drive.

7. Task: Get Santander parks list from OC observatory.

a) Issue: The request results with a long list of all parking and parks with long response time and unnecessary data.

b) Solution: The parking is filter out from the results, which further increase the total time for retrieving the results. There was no solution for the long response time.

8. Task: Get full data for assets when retrieving data for list of assets by type or by geo search.

a) Issue: When list of assets is retrieved, only part of the data is returned, in comparison with data retrieved for a specific asset by its id, or in comparison with the data in the Santander data web page. For example of missing data: name, image url and description.

Solutions:

a) After retrieving the list of assets, secondary requests were sent to retrieve each asset by its id to get the missing required data. This resulted with many requests and increased significantly the total time to get the required data. Therefore, the following approached was implemented.

b). When retrieving a list of assets, the request is done in parallel both to OC observatory and to Santander data web page. Then the missing data is taken from the Santander data and added to the OC output.

The promotion of the project

The ParGarCom project has two well-differentiated features: a technological component linked to the development of an app and another consisting of dissemination and possible follow-up beyond the final stage of the experiment, by seeking its own sponsorship or self-financing lines.

As part of this communication component and more than two months after the project began, we have been overwhelmed by the interest of the media, not only traditional written media but also digital, radio and audiovisual media.

Although the diffusion has been on a regional scale (Mallorca, Spain), we believe that this interest can also be transferred to other places when the project starts in Santander. And this is because it is not only a tool for publicising the companies involved, but also makes it possible to reach a wider audience and serve as a call for other cities, immersed in their own Smart City projects, to see how an experimental project born from a European entity such as Organicity, feeds on existing information in the city itself (sensors, news…) or provides new information generated by its own citizens or visitors.

We think that promotion is an important part of any project and it won’t be the first or the last time, that a technically perfect project doesn’t generate the interest that a priori could be thought of, not only for not getting the media interested on it and favor its diffusion, but also and even more importantly, not knowing how to reach the interest of the end user. In our case, Optimum Ventas, working side by side with Beesensor aims to be the link that many technology companies lack and we believe that the interest shown during this initial phase by the media will continue in March when the app is officially launched in the city of Santander.

Two types of projects

An old saying goes that there are two types of project: those who have had problems and those who will have them. ParGarCom is no exception and has experienced a development delay due to a number of issues with the originally chosen development framework that have forced a change in the working environment.

In a project with more flexible deadlines, the initial scheme would have been followed or further attempts to maintain the planned plan would have been made. But the time constraints existing in Organicity led us to consider the shift before the delay was unbearable.

It is not a complaint, the rules of the game are accepted and that leads to making decisions in accordance with them.

Internal meetings, decisions to take, faces of concern and a team that works together to make everything go as it should. That’s all.

Finally, we keep the original deadline with small internal modifications and the feeling that the problems are to be solved. And we’re working on it.

 

Kick-off: first meetings in Santander

Santander night view

The beginnings of a project are always intense. A lot of initial effort, a lot of planning, tons of illusion and, of course, knowing how it all will be transformed into a tangible reality.

Invariably, one of the first milestones in a project is the kick-off. Especially when you do it with those who will be your end users.

On 23 and 24 November, we visited Santander City Council to present the ParGarCom project to the main political authorities. A busy schedule of meetings thanks to the invaluable help of our interlocutor, Juan Echevarría.

The first day focused on holding meetings to introduce the project to the councillors of the different areas that were more directly or tangentially related to ParGarCom, a project focused on parks and gardens.

Thus, on Thursday 23rd, meetings were held with Daniel Portilla (municipal councillor for education, youth, heritage, contracting and transparency), Belén Domínguez (managing director for the environment), Juan Domínguez (councillor for sports and health), Antonio Gómez (managing director for sports), Miriam Díaz (councillor for culture and tourism), Lorena Gutiérrez (councillor for social dynamization and institutional relations) and Carmen Ruiz (councillor for neighbourhoods, citizen participation and general services).

In all of them, the project was presented to the political leaders and the most common response was:”how can we help you?”. Besides that, suggestions were added that led to the modification of some of the points

The afternoon of the first day turned into a photo-shooting tour of the city which resulted in a pleasant walk A walk in Santanderof more than four hours. In them, we enjoy the Gardens of Pereda, the Atlantic Park of Las Llamas with the impressive view of the Sports Palace of Santander, the park of Mataleñas and, after that, a superb coastal return by the park of Mesones, the gardens of Piquío and the traditional charm of the Gran Casino del Sardinero and back to the area of the Town Hall.

A project related to Santander and its parks could not have started any better.

The ParGarCom project

Beesensor Technologies together with Optimum Ventas have been selected in the 2nd call for experimentation projects to start up between November 17 – March 18 the ParGarCom project in Santander, within the framework of Organicity.

Organicity is a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission under the H2020 Framework Programme, to be developed from January 2015 to June 2018, and with an overall budget of more than 7 million euros and 15 partners, including three cities (Santander, London and Aarhus), aims to be an experimentation service that explores how citizens, businesses and cities can collaborate to create digital solutions for urban challenges, starting from the urban environment.

Thus, the aim of Organicity is to encourage co-creation, trying to involve citizens in all stages of development, from the generation of ideas to the creation of technological solutions, in order to improve this participation existing products or stimulate new applications that may be of interest to users.

Each of these cities, with a clear commitment to new technologies and in some cases with a long journey within the Smart Cities concept, provide the information generated by the sensors they already have installed, with the aim of allowing experimenters to put forward proposals that improve the quality of life in these cities, in areas such as mobility, air quality, waste…, either through their use or through the generation of new information, working on a common platform with a common platform.

In this context, ParGarCom is a project that aims to improve the experience of using Santander’s parks, gardens and green areas for both citizens and visitors, taking advantage of the open data that exists in the city (irrigation, urban transport lines planning, bus stops…) but involving citizens in the generation of new information, such as in the form of images or sounds, from those places that within the context of the application report some type of information, and that takes advantage of the platform so that the rest of the community is involved in their concerns.

Therefore, the project aims to promote all aspects associated with the parks, gardens and green areas of Santander, not only as relaxation and rest areas but also to generate community among citizens, promoting the knowledge of the activities that are carried out, making known through the information generated by users of the varieties of plants or fauna that can be observed in the different areas or reporting incidents that are detected, and in short, turning these zones into social areas, where users’ concerns, observations and suggestions allow to form a community that interacts in the context of these zones, where geolocation will be the tool to identify them.

Apart from the technological component that the project incorporates in the data capture and in the generation of new information and that Beesensor Technologies will develop, an important part of the project is to give it continuity after the end of the experimentation period and in this aspect the company Optimum Ventas, provides a bonus that hardly a technological company could contribute, to give the sufficient value to the project so that it has continuity once the experiment is finished.