Distributed Adaptive Systems


The Distributed Adaptive Systems Research Unit investigates advanced methodologies and techniques supporting the definition, development, and management of complex socio-technical systems that operate in dynamic environments, where being adaptable is a key intrinsic characteristic of the system. Particular attention is paid to advanced adaptation techniques for complex and collective systems and to solutions that exploit persuasive and gamification techniques to promote user engagement and to foster behavioral change towards more sustainable individual and collective habits. While DAS targets different application areas in the domain of Smart Cities, smart and sustainable mobility is an especially favourable domain for experimenting with the solutions the DAS Unit is developing.

Contributions to Smart Cities and Communities

DAS contributes to the realization of a gamification platform for Smart Cities which allows to engage the entire community and to promote behaviors in line with the city’s sustainability objectives and policies. DAS provides Procedural Content Generation techniques for the automatic generation of personalized game experiences and mechanics that are tailored to the user profile (e.g., preferences, habits, game status and history) and to the sustainability objectives promoted by the game. These techniques allow to keep end-users engaged and interested on the long-term with a diversified and enhanced game experience and at the same time to incentivize sustainable behaviors that the city administration means to promote.

Moreover, DAS contributes to the realization of models and techniques part of a platform supporting the offering of mobility services that i) are tailored to the traveller needs and preferences and that, at the same time, ii) exploit in a synergistic and collective manner the different available mobility services, being them public, private or shared by other travellers. The goal of DAS is to provide solutions to generate optimal itineraries and contextual mobility information taking into account the single interests of the different involved stakeholders (i.e., city administration, public/private mobility services providers, individual citizens, local associations and grassroots end-users groups) and all the contextual information (e.g., weather conditions, urban environment conditions, available mobility resources, etc..) that make the itineraries proposed more contextualized, reliable and sustainable.

Other research directions

DAS provides models and techniques for the specification, execution and adaptation of service-based systems characterized by their capabilities to be self-adaptive both to the users needs and to the environment in which they are executed. Thanks to AI planning techniques,  value added services can be composed, contextualized and customized at run time for a specific situation and user’s needs. A key application domain is smart/digital cities with particular emphasis on sustainable and smart mobility.

Another aim of the DAS unit is the development of adaptation techniques for Collective Adaptive Systems (CAS), where heterogeneous entities (typically both physical and virtual, distributed both organisationally and geographically) have autonomous goals and behaviours. In order to accomplish their tasks and reach their individual goals in an efficient and effective way, different entities must adapt to cooperate with one another as a collective entity. Achieving this challenge requires to exploit and extend technologies from service orientation, distributed systems, pervasive computing, and adaptation of composite systems.

Key projects and results

  • CLIMB – CLIMB is a local project, in collaboration with Comune di Trento, aiming at promoting children’s independent and active mobility. Our challenge is to make children mobility a safe, social and fun experience by exploiting transformative ICT technologies to: i) integrate all relevant crowd/open services and data available in the neighborhood, ii) provide wearable devices and Apps for the community of end-users to organize, manage, and monitor children daily mobility and iii) make use of gamification techniques to motivate and reward virtuous mobility behaviors and make children mobility a playful experience. CLIMB solutions are currently exploited by various schools in Trento (8 schools, more than 1000 children).
  • PLAY&GO – Promote an active participation of the whole community in the realization of the objectives defined in the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP): this is the aim pursued by Play&Go through an Open Gamification framework that supports the definition and operation of long-running and large-scale sustainable mobility gamification campaigns mobilizing the whole community. Play&Go supports local administrations in all phases: from the definition of customized campaigns (with respect to SUMP objectives, target users), to their operation (infomobility and gamification tools, management of sponsors and incentives, management of end-user communities), and validation (impact analysis, revision of campaigns’ objectives). Play&Go has been applied in various urban mobility campaigns involving thousands of users.
  • ALLOW Ensembles – The objective is to develop a new design principle for large-scale collective systems (CAS) based on the concepts of cells and ensembles. Cells are basic building blocks representing the different components of the system and ensembles are collections of cells collaborating together to accomplish certain goal in a given context. We use Adaptive Pervasive Flows – a programming paradigm based on workflow technology for pervasive systems – to model the behavior of cells as a set of interrelated tasks. This enables the salient principle of cell specialization. It allows for changing the behavior of the individual cell (tasks and order of execution) to fit into an ensemble and to achieve a given goal with high utility in collaboration with other cells of the ensemble. The ALLOW Ensembles concepts will be investigated on the basis of two scenarios that become increasingly relevant on the European scale: Integrated urban mobility and smart production chains.
  • STREETLIFE – The goal of STREETLIFE is the reduction of carbon emissions through a sustainable mobility concept in cities based on ICT. In particular, the aim of the project is to reduce the number of car trips by i) informing commuters about the existing transport alternatives and their real value (in terms of time, cost, carbon footprint), ii) enhancing public transport to meet the needs of the citizens and of the city, iii) promoting the usage of sustainable transports through (virtual or real) incentives.

Head of Unit



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