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SmarThor ERDF

Expanding digital services Open Thor Living Lab

Testing new software solutions and services requires solutions for access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and safety and comfort in the testing environment.

With ERDF funding, through planned research, VITO and KU Leuven are developing the expertise to add two new software modules to SmarThor:

  1. Context-rich datasets that companies can use to test apps and models
  2. API and framework with backup logic that allows experimental software solutions to be tested with buildings and families

Of course, these solutions must comply with privacy regulations and agreements with residents.

Testing new software solutions and services requires solutions for access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and safety and comfort in the physical testing environment. Realizing a testing environment that combines digital and physical, with daily varying conditions and users, is expensive and time-consuming. These challenges have already been incorporated by the Open Thor Living Lab

With support from the City of Genk, Thor Park NV and EnergyVille, Open Thor Living Lab is developing a sustainable energy infrastructure at Thor Park. This infrastructure includes the test houses of THOREAQ and ConstrucThor, the real-life oPEN Lab test environment of 33 houses located in the neighboring Waterschei garden suburb and New Texas social housing area, the  CollecThor 5th generation heat grid, a direct current grid that can be configured both actively and passively, and an energy hub with space for alternating test setups that can smoothly plug into the various backbone systems here. Financial support for this was received from Europe through Horizon 2020, ERDF and from the Flemish government.

In this ERDF project, through co-creation workshops, companies will be involved to discuss their needs and specification requirements with experts. This close collaboration with companies allows their needs to be translated into objectives and specification documents that further define the conceptual architecture of SmarThor.
Next, these conceptual proposals will be evaluated for compliance with applicable privacy regulations, comfort protections for test families, and what contractual terms are needed with both data owners (families) and data users (companies) to smoothly deploy these new services for product development and testing.

For the IT development, as with the previous realizations for the SmarThor  data platform, small iterations (sprints) with continuous adjustments will be used. A total of about 30 sprints are planned to bring both software modules to proof-of-concept testing with companies.

During the second project year, workshops in the form of hackathons will be organized where companies can plug into the new software modules to test their own concepts. This is simultaneously a proof-of-concept evaluation between clusters of sprints and an opportunity for companies to prepare their developments in advance for demonstration and experimentation in the Open Thor Living Lab.

In addition to companies, citizens are also involved as test families and communication and querying are actively used. The data and experiments also give governments better insight into which solutions are promising and help accelerate the transition from a fossil to a sustainable energy system in a cost-effective way.

With the expansion of the Open Thor Living Lab and the associated basic digital infrastructure SmarThor, we therefore mainly want to take on a social role to give Flemish industry easier access to international innovation and collaboration.

This project was created with the financial support of the Province of Limburg and ERDF.

Provincie Limburg