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www.urbact.eu

URBACT showcases 97 Good Practices for sustainable urban development, all accessible on a searching database providing city practitioners with a snapshot of the practice, why it works and who to contact for more details.

Among them, three GDC signatory cities stand out for investing in digital to impulse participatory change in their more disadvantaged neighbourhoods. For these local authorities, ICT are key enablers to inclusive urban regeneration and social innovation. For this reason, they deserve some attention.

 

  • street-art-robotsThe Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing presents itself as a new of co-creating smarter cities, designed to tackle social exclusion, poverty and environmental problems by empowering disadvantaged communities with opportunities to develop new knowledge, digital skills and open source tools.
  • In Bari, a former disused school has been transformed into a Creative Hub (Spazio 13) where digital communication and technologies play they part in regenerating the city’s suburb.
  • In Murcia, granting free Internet to citizens (in classrooms, information-points and through municipal Wi-Fi) is a major measure. Technological innovation is also a pillar of the participative urban regeneration process of the district ‘el Barrio del Espiriti Santo’.

 

This article was originally published on the Raconteur.net website

Daniël Termont is the mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES president.

 

Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES' current president

Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES’ rotating president

“In Ghent, we combine our historical façades with a forward- looking vision. By 2020, I want my city to be open, inclusive, smart and child friendly. Key to this vision are our citizens – we want to build the Ghent of the future together.

Discussions around smart cities are too often driven by technology and industry. I believe cities, and their citizens, are at the core of the smart city transition. Technology is an important ingredient of course: we are looking to innovative solutions to manage our energy and transport systems better, manage, process and visualise data, and make life easier for all.

But we’re not overlooking the low-tech solutions that complement these: well-organised bike paths, for example, and vertical farming.

Technology for us is a means not an end and becoming smarter is about a whole lot more.

We need to find new ways of working together so we can make the most of everyone’s expertise. Public administrations, citizens, businesses and research institutes: we are all part of the same urban ecosystem and we all have something to offer. By pooling our resources, we can create better solutions that truly address our challenges and are owned by the entire city.

In Ghent, we have several tools to make this happen, such as the Ghent Climate Alliance, which is behind our vision of becoming climate neutral. Our Ghent Living Lab is an innovative platform where citizens, developers, researchers and businesses can co-create their city.

Smart cities rely on data, so opening up data is an important initiative for Ghent. Students and developers can use it to work on new solutions, including apps that make life easier for residents, such as a waste collection calendar and an app, ‘Parkmobile‘, to locate available parking spaces in real time.

We’ve even turned it into a competition: our annual hackathon, Apps for Ghent, invites developers to turn our open data into exciting new apps, such as Studio Dott’s PopBike (video), which enables users to calculate the best bike route and share bikes, and Ghendetta, a game that encourages users to explore city districts.

One of the challenges many cities face with opening data is protecting privacy. Citizens need to be able to access, use and manage their data, and for this they need adequate digital skills. This is a priority for Ghent as we want to make sure technology is accessible to everyone.

It is essential then that we create a level playing field. We need common and open standards and better interoperability between systems. This would open the market to more actors and would also bring down costs, and maximise the release, accessibility and usability of data, helping businesses grow.

Working together on projects is a must for testing and scaling up new solutions. Ghent is involved in several, including the Green Digital Charter, through which we commit to reducing our carbon footprint with smart ICT. We also need direct dialogue with European Union decision-makers.

With the Urban Agenda for the EU and the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities, we see new work processes that support the joining up of different levels of government and different sectors. This is a step in the right direction to address European and urban challenges together.

I am looking forward to the journey ahead and I am pleased to be sharing it with my colleagues at EUROCITIES, the network of major European cities. This is where I can bounce off ideas, discover new solutions and find ways to address shared challenges.

As a mayor, I know every corner of my city and have daily contact with citizens. This knowledge is crucial for making smart city solutions work. Working with cities means working with citizens, so by strengthening the links between EU institutions and cities, we are building a stronger Europe.

 

The EIP-SCC Citizen Focus Action Cluster is organizing a webinar on the engagement of citizens through co-creation and co-design tools. The webinar will take place on March 18th from 13:00 to 14:00.

Pursuing sustainable and citizen-centric smart cities means not only starting from citizens’ needs but also leveraging on socially-driven innovations where citizens act as creators and drivers of socio-technical change. This is why co-design and co-creation are receiving increased attention in the debate on urban innovation and smart cities.  From being ‘objects’ whose needs are analysed and detected to meet their demands, citizens become active subjects of smart civic movements and constitute the backbone of smart cities. From an industry perspective these developments can lead to greater interaction with customers and their expectations in order to design more meaningful and marketable user experiences. City administrations rely on innovative e-government platforms to grasp citizens’ demands and rejuvenate dialogue and participation.

The Citizen Focus Action Cluster is focusing one of its streams of activities on reviewing and analysing  methods and good practices for making smart cities human-centric, meeting citizens’ needs and leveraging citizen-led innovations: Initiative#1 investigates co-design and co-creation as tools for enhancing social inclusion and participation. Through this webinar it aims at sharing the most recent developments in this field from a multi-stakeholder perspective, highlighting current research and best practice on these topics.

Citizen Focus Action Cluster will chair and open the webinar leading the discussion through the interventions of speakers such as Mercè Graell, from Design IT and Frank Kresin, from Waag. Anne Deltour, from DG Connect will give the conclusions.

For further information on the programme, visit the event.

For registrations, click here.

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