1. About the project

Project “User-oriented process (re)design and information systems modelling – a case of smart city services” is financed by Croatian Science Foundation. The project’s duration is five years (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2022).

Research group MIS4SC (Modelling Information Systems for Smart City services) focuses on several related areas of digital transformation. In brief – the focus of the research is on user-oriented (re)design of business processes and the development of modern information systems based on smart technologies. Developed concepts and models are tested on specific problems in the domain of smart city services/solutions. For this reason, the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, based on the quadruple helix model was planned from the start. Project research activities are divided into three different categories:

  • New studies in digital transformation: convergence of two different approaches and perspectives – Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer eXperience Management (CXM).
  • Recent trends in the development of smart technologies for Customer eXperience Management (CX) and modelling of user-oriented information systems.
  • Modelling of user-oriented information systems in the environment of smart cities.

Project manager and Principal investigator is Assoc. prof. Maja Ćukušić, and the members of the research team are Assoc. prof. Mario Jadrić,  Assoc. prof. Vinko Muštra, Tea Mijač, mag. oec., Ivana Ninčević Pašalić, mag. oec., Dino Pavlić, mag. oec., Professor Željko Garača,  Assoc. prof. Tihomir Orehovački, Assist. prof. Anton Manfreda.

For more project details, visit: http://smartcity.efst.hr/

2. Which OR area is covered in your research, and how do you use examples/data from the business sector? Provide some examples of your work or studies. What software tools do you use?

The MISC4SC project studies include various OR areas, such as Data Mining, Decision Analysis/Data Science/Big Data, Queuing Theory/Simulation using different software tools. For example, for analytics and data mining – Rapid Miner, generating process maps – Disco, process modelling – ARIS, creating discrete simulation models – Arena and ExtendSim, structural equations modelling – SPSS Amos, are used, among other tools.

Some of the examples published in the last two years are presented here briefly, referring to data and cases from local organisations “Split parking”, “Split Airport” and City of Split.

1. Process Mining Contributions to Discrete-event Simulation Modelling  – Split parking

Popular use case in the smart city domain is the implementation of smart parking solutions, which contributes to the optimisation of peoples’ time, reduction of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions Over the last 20 years, process mining has become a vibrant research area due to the advances in data management technologies and techniques and the advent of new process mining tools. Recently, the links between process mining and simulation modelling have become an area of interest. The objective of the paper was to demonstrate and assess the role of process mining results as an input for discrete-event simulation modelling. The aim of the simulation can be related to optimisation scenarios, determination of peak load, or for example to identify poorly used parking spaces and release these to the general public (for example, for long term leases or similar), and in that context, the potential of process mining as a basis for building a simulation model is tested. Data processing was performed based on 114,931 unique records collected from a randomly selected parking lot in the city of Split within one year – 2019.

2. Identifying challenges and priorities for developing smart city initiatives and applications – City of Split

In an effort to identify and explore the challenges, the potential and the priorities for the implementation of smart city applications in a national/local context, a workshop followed by a research survey was conducted. To that end, a suitable research framework related to the implementation of over 50 up-to-date smart city applications was adapted, extended and operationalised. The results of the study expose the strategic factors as the most challenging ones in the long-run in the national context of Croatia. In terms of local priorities for introducing smart city applications, the experts agreed on the most important and the least important smart city applications as well as on the potential to introduce these applications within five years. For the selection and prioritisation of smart city applications in the given context, a proof-of-concept of a decision support tool intended for city managers is then proposed based on simulation modelling.

3. Discrete Simulation Modelling of Intelligent Passenger Boarding – Split Airport

This research demonstrates the potential of discrete simulation for exploring the benefits of using smart technologies in airport operations as a part of ongoing smart transport and smart mobility initiatives and solutions. The simulation model of the passenger boarding process at Split Airport was developed integrating two different variants: i) validated as-is process simulation and ii) to-be process simulation of the process supported by intelligent passenger boarding technology. Special attention was given to model validation. A significant degree of optimisation was achieved in the intelligent passenger boarding simulation experiment, thus supporting future decisions regarding self-boarding solutions.

Other OR-related papers have been published as well, however, not as a direct result of a cooperation with a business organisation, for example, “Text Mining the Variety of Trends in the Field of Simulation Modelling Research”, “Selecting the Right E-participation Tool: Multi-criteria Decision Making from a User Perspective”, “Review of Discrete Simulation Modelling Use in the Context of Smart Cities”, and “Framework for Discrete-Event Simulation Modelling Supported by LMS Data and Process Mining”.

3. Using research results in teaching

Within the MIS4SC project framework, several activities were planned to engage various stakeholders in research and teaching activities at the doctoral and graduate studies level. Among others, curricular activities related to the topic of the project (in particular the domain of smart cities) were planned and implemented at the international level (such as summer and winter schools, mentoring of diploma theses, organisation of workshops, and more), and a proposal for new curricula at the graduate study level has been submitted. New elective course “Smart City Management” has been approved by the Council of the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism. Course teachers are researchers M. Ćukušić, V. Muštra and M. Jadrić and the professionals from the public sector are engaged in the practical part of the course. It is expected to start in both Croatian and English in the academic year 2021/22. The curriculum includes OR topics such as “Big data and dashboards in cities”, “Predictive analytics for smart city management”, “Process mining and optimisation of services in cities”, “Simulation modelling of smart services in cities”. In this regard, through other compulsory courses at the graduate level, such as “Business Intelligence” and “Business Process Simulation”, students encounter other OR-related topics and independently work using different OR methods on specific business cases using real-life or open-access data.