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The seeds of IoT in Serbia and the region were planted in 2008/2009 by the FP7 PROSENSE project. The goal of the project was to help universities in Belgrade (Serbia) and Skopje (FYR Macedonia) to set up wireless sensor networking labs. These projects organized several workshops in the region, helped in education of the first group of young researchers interested in this domain and as such were the starting point of IoT activities in the region.

The first outdoors IoT installation in Serbia was done in 2011 in Belgrade as the ekoBUS pilot, in the context of the FP7 SENSEI project. On one of the public transport routes, GPS devices equipped with a set of air quality sensors, were installed on several buses, creating a mobile environment monitoring system on top of solution designed for improvement of public transport. Soon after the project, the same solution was expanded and deployed in the city of Pancevo across their complete bus network. This was a collaborative effort of the following companies: Ericsson, Telekom Serbia, and DunavNET. Later, the solution was short-listed for a Mobile World Congress award in the transport domain.

At this stage, M2M and later IoT activities were driven by Ericsson’s office in Serbia and were greatly supported by Telekom Serbia. The FP7 SENSEI project, the buzz it created together with the ekoBUS pilot, as well as several other FP7 projects where the two companies participated (EXALTED, IoT-I, SmartSantander, LoLa, OUTSMART etc.) with involvement of the two companies led to discussions with national government to set up a living lab in Belgrade. The goal of the living lab was to support validation of M2M technology and rapid introduction of smart city services. However, due to changes of the political structure in the country, this initiative has never materialized.

After several years of Ericson spearheading IoT activities in the country (and in the region), DunavNET [122] took over the leading role in promotion of IoT technology and applications as well as in the community creation. Public promotion and community engagement were strongly supported by the Centre for Promotion of Science, through organization of different events. Education of young researchers in the region has been greatly promoted and supported by senZations, an IoT summer school which runs since 2006. The summer school is held annually, and has been hosted in almost all the countries of the Balkan region, attracting several hundred young researchers. A large percentage of lecturers were representatives of relevant FP7 and H2020 projects. Around 2010/2011, Faculty of Organizational Sciences of the University of Belgrade introduced IoT course in the official undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, the first such undertaking in the region. In 2013, the first IoT meetup [123] was set up in the cities of Novi Sad and Belgrade as one of the activities of FP7 SOCIOTAL project. These gatherings were driven by DunavNET and were supported by the Chamber of Commerce of Belgrade. They served as the seed for establishment of a larger IOT community in the country. There are over 300 registered members of the meetup today. The first offspring of this activity were the setup of an extracurricular IoT course in “Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj” gymnasium in Novi Sad [124], and the initiation of the Makers’ movement [125]. With the establishment of several accelerators (e.g. StartIt), involvement of the start-up community has increased and with it the interest in applying IOT in new business endeavours. A significant impact on general awareness and further enlargement of the IOT community in Serbia was the organization of IoT week in Belgrade in June 2016. This event, together with the prior events used to promote IoT week, gathered support from various institutional bodies and trade associations, resulting in a large turnout (500+).

Other organizations that contributed significantly to IoT activities in Serbia are Belit addressing energy efficiency domain [126], Bitgear addressing transport domain [127], Strawberry energy creating smart benches [128] and the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad with its Biosense institute [129]addressing smart agriculture. Biosense institute is nowadays the leading research institution in the smart agriculture domain with strong collaboration links with the University of Wageningen (Netherlands).

While a few years ago, IoT activities were mainly driven by organizations participating in various FP7 and H2020 projects, over the last 2 years the number of active organizations have increased. Examples are market analyst companies like IDC [130], local technology oriented media like PC Press [136] and Internet Ogledalo [131] as well as trade exhibition venues in Novi Sad (novel technologies for agriculture as a part of the traditional international agriculture fair) and Belgrade (smart city extension of a security related fair planned for October 2017). PC Press, as the leading IT related magazine in the country is organizing event called Bizit [137] which regularly features IoT topics. Further to these initiatives, it is important to note activities of Microsoft. They are actively supporting start-up communities by providing cloud tools and mentorships, with specific focus on IoT. They are also organizing Sinergija [132], one of the largest IT technology events in the country gathering IT community and addressing IoT from both technical and business perspectives.

On the public administration side, the frontrunners in Serbia are the cities of Novi Sad and Belgrade. They are increasingly investing in development of relevant strategies as well as deployment of smart city services. Again, FP7 and H2020 projects (CLIPS, WeLive, MobiWallet) are playing an important role, particularly from the visionary point of view and sharing of experiences with other European cities. These two cities are now planning to join the OASC (Open and Agile Smart Cities) association. Several cities from the region are already members of this association [133]. If regional public administrations find a way to collaborate, the speed of the smart city development in the region can be greatly increased. The smaller administrations are also awakening. The efforts are mainly directed towards public lighting, environment monitoring and parking management (Belgrade started deployment of several thousands of parking sensors in the city centre) with a few occurrences of deployment of smart city furniture (benches).