The Smart Cities Impact Center
Smart Cities Research
Groups: Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Law, Education, Geography, in collaboration with local governments, industry leaders and social innovators
Israel is one of the most urbanized countries in the world—over 92% of the nation lives in cities. Moreover, our population is expected to more than double over the next 47 years, from 8.5 million to 20 million. Such massive growth in our community means enormous growth of our cities. All the problems of built-up areas and dense populations will compound exponentially—traffic, pollution, crime, out of control housing costs, the strain on the infrastructure for security, healthcare, waste, energy, and more—and we will be left with unliveable sprawl. That is unless we change how we plan, manage, and develop our cities.
Moreover, the challenge is not unique to Israel. Worldwide, three million people move into cities every week. Municipalities are desperate for solutions.
Bar-Ilan’s Smart City Impact Center brings together city officials, tech companies, and researchers to improve the quality of life in Israel’s urban environments and beyond.
The Path Forward
The Smart City Impact Center has partnered with seven very different cities surrounding our main campus. Our campus—our own miniature city—serves as a living lab to test and exhibit potential solutions, and already dozens of companies have installed their equipment and applications on our campus. In contrast with other groups in Israel which specialize in one problem area or another, we approach each city holistically, and we act as a matchmaker for our partner cities, tech companies, and the Bar-Ilan researchers who have knowledge and skills needed to bridge the gaps between ideas and implementations. We also operate an accelerator program helps startups working on smart city solutions.
We have many exciting projects underway:
On campus we are experimenting with a variety of new technologies: a smart lighting system developed by industry leader Gaash Lighting, an advanced communication system for public maintenance activities developed by Visit, and an intelligent irrigation system designed by Green IQ which brings Israel’s drip irrigation innovations in the 21st century.
The Ministry of Defense has partnered with us on two major infrastructure projects of the IDF. We will lead the implementation of smart city technology in the massive training base Camp Ariel Sharon where more than 10,000 recruits train at a time. We will likewise implement smart city solutions in another enormous military complex in the Negev which will bring together about 80% of the IDF’s intelligence units.
In partnership with water companies, we have begun studies on how water is used in Kiryat Ono and Rishon Lezion (the 5th largest city in Israel) and how it can be used more wisely.
We are partnering with Deloitte, a global leader in professional services which has begun cultivating innovation within organizations.
Bar-Ilan research Dr. Yuval Hadas is developing an app to show drivers where parking is available and show municipalities how to plan parking better.
In partnership with Nanjin University in China, we are investigating urban heat islands, areas which absorb sunlight and retain waste heat more than green spaces resulting in more air pollution, more airborne illness, warmer waste water which does more harm to ecosystems, and numerous other ill-effects. We aim to modulate how such areas absorb sunlight by covering them with greenery. This project involves Bar-Ilan researchers in medicine, law, botany, business, and geography.
- In partnership with an elementary school and a startup with innovative sensor technology, we are investigating how traffic from student drop-off and pick-up affects air quality in the school area, and what we can do to reduce it.
- This past semester we offered a course on Smart Cities. Students from diverse departments chose to join, did excellent work, and gave the course rave reviews!
Our range of international partners in Asia and Europe continue to grow. Ultimately, the Smart City Impact Center is more than making cities human-friendly, cost-efficient, and more technologically sophisticated. As smart cities innovator, Prashant Dhawan said, “It’s not just human-centered. It’s not just economy-centered. It’s not just technology-centered. …It’s Life-centered.”
Director Dr. Eyal Yaniv
Director Dr. Eyal Yaniv is the chairman of Bar-Ilan’s School of Business Administration. Previously he founded Israel Online, the first Hebrew-language content portal, and led the company as CEO. He also founded Nonstop Internet, which pioneered broadband internet in Israel via cable and ADSL, and served as CEO.