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Are the cities of the future to be a series of opal blue utopias, or streets of bent necked citizens crouching over screens?

At ‘Imagine the Urban Future’, the Green Digital Charter (GDC) and Knowledge Society Forum (KSF) joint conference held on 23 January, cities and experts gathered to discuss how they could build smarter cities that work for all their residents. How can leaders best mediate the dual tasks of moving their cities forward while ensuring that they are travelling in the right direction?

Putting the you in utopia

In her welcome speech, Eindhoven’s vice-mayor for innovation and KSF chair, Mary-Ann Schreurs stressed that tech innovation should never be for its own sake, but rather be centred around the citizen, “Let’s put the good life first, let’s put society first, let’s put technology in service of that.”

Anna-Lisa Boni, secretary general of EUROCITIES, suggested that we need open dialogue about the kinds of algorithms our technology will employ, so that citizens can have access to these otherwise opaque systems.

When used right, technology can be a major aid to democratic governance. Daniela Patti, managing director at Eutropian, pointed to the capacity of e-governance systems to increase the diversity of the people that governments connect to. As in Madrid’s Participa LAB, techniques like participatory budgeting and crowdsourcing regulation can put citizens in the driver seat of their cities. Indeed, as Peter Baeck, head of collaborative economy research at Nesta, pointed out, crowdfunding now accounts for 60% of the funding for start ups in the UK. If similar mechanisms can be set up at government level, high uptake can be expected.

 

Tech must work for people

Nevertheless, Mr Baeck also warned that cities risk not preparing their residents sufficiently for the technological tidal wave that may be swelling before us. How can cities help the potentially huge numbers of people whose jobs are soon to be automated? Local governments must provide training for people that enables them to switch professions.

Claire Courteille, director of the International Labour Organisation Brussels office, confirmed that the upskilling battle must be fought on two fronts. On one hand, people need to be retrained into careers that require soft skills, creativity, teamwork and collaboration. On the other hand, 40% of the EU workforce has little or no digital literacy – a stark figure. It is essential the training is provided for people so that they can engage in the digital world.

Ms Courteille declared that, “we must reject the idea of techno-predestination. We have to take control, upskill and prepare for rapid change. Life long learning will have to become a reality.”

Giving the example of the guifi.net mesh network, Mr Baeck concluded that people and groups have the potential to act in extremely innovative ways, but they must first be empowered to do so.

 

The future is in our cities

“Cities,” claimed Ms Schreurs, “are the foremost at creating solutions.” It is cities who are focussing on the interoperability of tech on a European level, and working together to create generic technology that delivers local solutions.

However, Ms Schreurs also warned that cities must take control, “You need a concept of what you want your city to be. If you don’t structure the cooperation and organise the governance, it won’t fly.” Markus Bylund, director of IT and digitalisation strategy for the city of Uppsala, emphasised that “If we continue as we are today, we will fail. In the key to the digital future, technology is just 10%, the rest is changing the way we do things.”

Taking on the titans

While cities like Amsterdam are bringing giant companies like Airbnb to the negotiating table and bargaining for better solutions, many cities still don’t feel empowered to shape globalisation to their own terms.

“This,” Ms Boni confirmed, “is the time for cities. It is important for cities to join forces by being part of a group that can really change things in policy making, through more funding and attention to cities, but one that also allows cities to work together to pool their insights and to innovate. The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

More imaginings

The series, ‘Imagine the Urban Future’, will continue throughout 2018, with events being organised in each EUROCITIES forum. Through this series of events, and high-impact campaigns such as Cities4Europe, EUROCITIES is taking its own advice by actively shaping the debate around the future that cities want to see within Europe and beyond.

REPLICATE-workshopSome years after the start of several H2020 Smart Cities and Communities, the smart city solutions and measures implemented in those cities reveal their first results and have already given to cities valuable information on how to best achieve their transformation.

The 12 projects implement wide range of solutions from building retrofitting to e-mobility and citizen engagement. About 76 cities out of which 36 cities are lighthouse cities, meaning that they have demonstration areas and they implement the solutions. In each project there are follower cities, ensuring that those cities will be the first who replicate.

The 40 follower cities will be brought together in Brussels for a full day on 26th January, at INEA’s premises and focus on the needs of these cities. Follower cities by participating in the Replication workshop will be able to discuss openly the challenges and issues of replicating specific smart city measures with several lighthouse cities, cross-projects, city networks, the European Commission and INEA.

How to pave the way for successful replication?

The purpose is to exchange about how concrete measures can be implemented and take the necessary steps for and within the follower cities to pave the way for successful replication. The day will be organised around 2 rounds of active discussions in 3 thematic workshops; one on urban mobility, one on low energy districts and one on integrated infrastructure. Each of the workshop will be divided in several roundtables to ensure a contribution from all participants and more direct exchanges.

The day will end with an open discussion on how to get round the barriers and restrains to implement smart solutions in cities.

 

Follower cities can register for this event, before 15 January, here: https://goo.gl/ZY6gmw

Contact: Bernadett Köteles-Degrendele, Sharing Cities, EUROCITIES (Bernadett.degrendele@eurocities.eu)

Agenda: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/DesignAgenda.pdf

Where : INEA premises, Chaussée de Wavre 910, B-1049, Brussels (BELGIUM)

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EUROCITIES, in collaboration with the Sharing Cities project, is pleased to invite you to our annual brokerage event on the Horizon 2020 Smart Cities & Communities call.

This year the event is taking place on Thursday 25 October 2017, in Brussels, one day after the official smart cities info day organised by the European Commission and INEA.

This brokerage event will offer an opportunity for cities representatives to develop consortia and project ideas to respond to the Horizon 2020 Smart Cities 2018 call for proposals and to learn from the results of previous projects. It will also provide useful insights on how to develop a successful replication strategy and create investment possibilities that will continue beyond the end of the project lifetime. During the event, cities representatives are invited to present a project idea or their city activities in the area of smart cities, which could contribute to proactive matchmaking between potential actors.

 

Registration

Participation is free of charge and is reserved to city representatives only or organisations coming on their behalf. Participants need to register before 13 October here : http://bit.ly/2gKj97A.

More information (and detailed agenda) on EUROCITIES website or www.sharingcities.eu

 

eipscc-v2The annual General Assembly of the EIP-SCC will be held in Brussels on Thursday 12 October 2017, with a clear focus on stimulating joint investments in the smart city market, building towards a coordinated plan to make that real in the market at scale.

Cities, industrial players, investors and financiers of smart cities and communities projects will be joined by Commissioners from the sectors concerned, who will be actively involved in the debate to share their thoughts and to help making the Marketplace the arena where smart solutions are developed and implemented in European cities.

“Towards a Joint Investment Programme for Smart Cities” summarises the goal for the General Assembly: to stimulate scale deployment of digital solutions in all sectors involved in the Marketplace.

View the Agenda >>

Registration

Number of seats are limited. As such, registrations will go through a validation process. After registering here, your participation will be confirmed in two steps:

  • Your participation to the General Assembly will be advised in the week following registration submission,
  • if you have shown an interest to attend one of the Marketplace’s breakfast (limited to 100 participants), your participation will be advised by mid-September

Some questions? Please contact EIP-SCC@mci-group.com


The European Commission continues its commitment to the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC Market Place), through the sponsorship of DG Energy, DG Move and DG Connect.

This brokerage event on 11 July 2012 offered an opportunity for EUROCITIES member cities to develop consortia and project ideas ahead of the Smart Cities call for proposals in the 2013 Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Work Programme, expected to be published on 10 July. This event was organised back-to-back with the Commission’s Smart Cities & Communities stakeholder platform event on 10 July 2012. It also complemented the official European Commission FP7 Energy Research information day, which will took place on 4 July 2012.

The event gave participants the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the call from a representative from the Commission
  • Meet other European cities interested in the call
  • Network with project partners from all over Europe in view of developing joint projects
  • Interact with experts from EUROCITIES office for fine-tuning your project idea

During the event participants were able to present their city profile/project idea, which contributed to proactive matchmaking between potential projects.

Download: visit the “Document from events” resource session to download agenda and presentations of the training

 

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