The role information and communication technology-based (ICT) solutions can play in improving energy efficiency and energy security across Europe, and ways to make ICT ‘greener’ were on the agenda of a half-day Green Digital Charter (GDC) workshop organised by EUROCITIES on 16 June in Brussels. The participants in the event, held in the framework of the EU Sustainable Energy Week, also discussed initiatives aimed at increased citizen involvement and more efficient knowledge management.

nikoFourteen speakers took the floor in four sessions. They included officials of the European Commission, as well as academics and representatives of smart cities and green ICT organisations.

Vast untapped potential

Cities have vast – although as yet largely untapped – potential to lead by example. By sharing their strategies and exhibiting their projects, they can encourage and enthuse their hesitant peers, said one of the speakers. The examples cited included Linköping municipality’s data centre, which is run by hydropower, and the ‘virtualisation’ of the servers in Nantes metropole, which has resulted in over 10,000 kWh of energy savings a year. In Amsterdam, the switch to green ICT solutions for power management has led to 20% less energy being consumed.

Meanwhile, joint projects are also busy developing tools and methods to harness this potential. The project aims to create a common framework and online tools for the measurement of energy and environmental efficiency in the ICT sector; and GREENSPECTOR is a software ecodesign solution for software developers to reduce their power consumption.

Working with citizens

energy_meter_Pixabay3According to David Ludlow, associate professor European smart cities at the University of the West of England, data are fundamental to shaping the future of cities. Accordingly, municipal authorities should spare no effort to collaborate with citizens on issues related to the collection and use of data.

Alec Walker-Love, communication specialist for the CITyFiED project, said that citizen engagement requires more than effective communication. In this process, the decision makers must heed the public’s concerns, ideas, needs and values. There is no long-term behaviour change without an inclusive and collaborative approach to decision making, he said.

The Sharing Cities ‘lighthouse’ programme was cited as one that puts citizens in the equation. It entails several engaging activities, where citizens are encouraged to co-design services and digital interfaces. Finally, a representative of the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) explained how and why they place people at the heart of product development and innovation.

Knowledge sharing a key to success

workingKnowledge sharing is a key element of the smart city concept. It entails power networking and solution-focused collaboration. EUROCITIES regularly brings together its members (politicians and technical experts alike) and encourages them to exchange views about their local ambitions and challenges and to learn from each other.

A representative of the European Energy Award, a very important scheme that involves hundreds of cities in Central Europe, presented the network’s methods for planning, implementing and monitoring energy and climate-related projects and how it brings cities and stakeholders together to create an ecosystem of organisations and best practices.

The Smart Cities Information System (SCIS) provides information based on data and results collected from smart city projects. Its objectives are to enable stakeholders to compare notes; identify best practices; and discuss challenges and solutions. The SCIS submits policy recommendations to the European Commission.

The aim of the CITYkeys project is to design a holistic framework for monitoring, measuring and comparing the performance and implementation of smart city solutions and projects in European cities. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a powerful tool for communicating project status, progress, and feasibility  both internally and externally.

The speakers’ presentations are available here: