This post is part of our Future of Smart Cities series, in which we interview the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
1. What’s the history of Libelium? Where and how did you begin?
AA: Libelium began its journey in 2006 after realizing the incredible potential of sensory networks. We (Alicia Asín and David Gascón) created the start-up as part of the final project of David’s Computer Engineering degree on distributed networks. Libelium's technology has many applications, and one of the most demanded is within the smart cities market. By 2020, investment in smart city technology will exceed $108 trillion. We can implement solutions for traffic and parking space monitoring, measurement of noise and dust levels, urban waste management, lighting management to save energy costs and other basic infrastructures for public buildings and roads. The other big market that we see emerging is precision agriculture as a result of the huge savings that can be achieved through the application of technology.
Since we entered the age of information and telecommunications in the 70’s, we have not seen anything similar to the Internet of Things in terms of its potential impact on process change and power to create a new business ecosystem. The IoT is more than a new generation of the Internet, it is the next technological revolution — both horizontal and global— in which we will finally see the digital and physical world blend.
2. What specific problem does Libelium solve? How do you solve it?
DG: Libelium's intelligent sensor technology allows the monitoring of any object or environment and sends this information wirelessly, in real time to the Internet. This achieves greater efficiency and optimization of any process as well as decision making based on real data.
Libelium's wireless sensor platform is present in projects of great economic and social impact and addresses the great challenges humanity faces in the coming century. In the opening decades, Libelium sensors are helping to prevent pests and improve productivity in agricultural crops, they are helping to reduce pollution and traffic in several smart cities, they have been employed in projects predicting volcanic activity, they are helping to universalize access to a health system for populations outside hospital zones, and have even voyaged into space aboard satellite to study solar storms.
We sincerely believe that the greatest legacy that the Internet of Things can provide is greater democracy and transparency so that citizens can value the decisions made by public administration managers.
3. What’s the future of smart cities?
AA: The IoT and the smart cities industry are experiencing great development as many projects that began as small PoCs (proof of concepts) are now becoming a reality with wider deployments. So I really think that 2018 will be the year the IoT takes off and the worldwide investments will increase, particularly in solutions for smart parking, smart agriculture and environmental management.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends shaping cities of the future?
DG: Libelium is now keeping in mind the political climate of smart cities. For example, in the smart cities sector, air quality control sensors to reduce pollution, water quality solutions to improve public supply management, and new smart parking solutions to reduce traffic jams and also decrease gas emissions are the most demanded applications by municipalities.
Municipalities have, these days, a greater awareness about the pollution damages and because of that, public authorities are also strengthening efforts to develop an effective legislation on air (AQI) and water quality to answer citizens' expectations. These measures are benefiting resources optimization in public administration achieving a greater efficiency.
When the IoT started, the number of nodes was a key point. Having a 1,000 node network in a smart city sounded cooler than a 20 node one, but never more. Since governments and municipalities got into the game, accuracy of the information is the new key point. We see this tendency clearly in recent years, since customers demand new enhanced products such as calibrated gas sensors, calibrated sound / noise level probes or even having the possibility to recalibrate the sensor probes themselves (smart water calibration kits and ions sensors calibration kits).
About Alicia Asin
Alicia Asin co-founded Libelium in 2006 with David Gascón and has been its CEO since the beginning. She is focused on how IoT is becoming the next tech revolution, starting with Smart Cities. She is a frequent speaker at international conferences on issues related to Smart Cities, Wireless Sensor Networks and the IoT. She is a computer engineer by the University of Zaragoza and graduated by ESADE Business School.
Alicia is also the first woman to receive the National Young Entrepreneur at the 2014 meeting of the Spanish Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs (CEAJE).
About David Gascón
David Gascón, Computer Engineer by the Polytechnic Center of Zaragoza is the Libelium's Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer. He also worked as professor at the Engineering University of Zaragoza (Spain).
He has been awarded by the MIT with the TR35 prize as the most important innovator under 35 in Spain (2012). In 2013 he helped launch into Space the Libelium technology inside the first open source satellite “Ardusat”. In 2014 the Libelium Co-founders won the National Young Entrepreneur Award given by their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of Spain.