An EU smart city is an European smart city that manages resources in a sustainable way reducing waste, promotes economic growth and aims to become energy self-sufficient.
This is made possible by the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing and other innovative tools.
In other words: efficient urban transport networks, intelligent energy and water supply, sustainable waste disposal, inclusive public spaces and an interactive administration.
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The recommendations of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe recommends the implementation of the above-mentioned solutions from the European active policy framework aimed at inclusion and sustainability.
EU smart cities must focus on human rights. This requires the compliance of new digital technologies and, in particular, artificial intelligence with democracy.
Digital divide and smart village
The focus of the Council of Europe is, above all, on the reduction of the digital divide, i.e. the gap between those who have easier access to new digital technologies and those who, on the other hand, are partially or totally excluded from them.
In rural areas, for example, the digital divide often represents forms of inequality in economic, educational and employment opportunities. Those living in rural areas, in fact, pay the price of a predominantly agricultural economy.
The aim of the Council of Europe is to reduce the disparity between those who live in the city and those who live in the countryside by creating so-called smart villages.
EU smart cities: what they are
EU smart cities should not be imagined as cities of the future with robots and flying machines, but rather as urban conglomerates that are more functional and efficient than the current ones.
Basically, Europe imagines its smart cities as places where the quality of life is higher and the needs of citizens, businesses and institutions are easily met, with full respect for others and the environment.
The 6 dimensions of smartness
If the concept of a smart city still eludes you, seems abstract and unclear, know that there are criteria for assessing the degree of smartness of a city.
They were theorised by Rudolf Giffinger, an expert in the field of analytical research of urban and regional development, who in his study Smart cities Ranking of European medium-sized cities explains what the 6 dimensions of a smart city are.
A smart economy refers to an innovative business model that encourages the interconnection of ecosystems in different cities. One example is the circular economy.
The term smart people refers to an active, inclusive, sustainable and intelligent citizenship that offers equal opportunities to all, taking into account the needs of individuals.
Smart governance is a decision-making process in which organisations, institutions, companies and all stakeholders participate. Smart governance encourages citizen intervention and the use of new digital technologies (digital management).
Smart mobility is based on a modern, sustainable and comprehensive transport system available to citizens and workers as well as tourists or those in need of international mobility.
Smart environment stands for smart management of natural resources (air, water, gas, etc.), to which is added the care of the environmental heritage and the use of new technologies for the production of electricity.
Smart living is primarily about the quality of life of citizens and focuses on: health, safety in the city, easily accessible services, housing for all, presence of schools and universities, social cohesion, tourist attractiveness.
EU smart cities: 5 examples
Let’s now look at a list of 5 cities that can already be considered EU smart cities.
According to the City Motion Index (CIMI), which measures the level of smartness of cities around the world, London is ranked first in Europe. This was achieved thanks to the Smarter London Together strategic plan, which focuses on innovation, digital transformation and connectivity.
The 5 main objectives of the plan are:
To promote the digitisation of the UK capital, the position of Chief Digital Officer has also been created, attached to the London Office for Data Analytics.
On the green front, the steps forward are remarkable: the use of renewable energy is increasingly widespread; of note is the offshore wind production, which will benefit from major investments from 2020.
Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is characterised by:
In Paris, the idea is to improve the lives of citizens through the theory of the quarter-hour, according to which all essential services should be reachable in a maximum of 15 minutes from any point in the city. The aim is to review the structural organisation of Paris in order to increase levels of sustainable mobility.
Amsterdam has embraced the circular strategy model that aims to halve the use of raw materials by 2030, avoiding waste and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The aim is to have a fully circular economy by 2050, based on:
Amsterdam boasts a fleet of 850 bicycles and has progressively banned the circulation of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, promoting electric or hybrid ones; hundreds of recharging stations are installed throughout the city.
Helsinki is probably one of the first smart cities not only in Europe, but in the world. With its investment programme, it has succeeded in adopting cutting-edge digital urban solutions, which can be viewed on the Digital Helsinki website, which collects and monitors all data relating to the city’s smart development.
The perceptions of Helsinki’s citizens collected by the Smart City Index, moreover, confirm the positive impact of the solutions adopted with respect to health, safety, transport, activities, opportunities and governance.
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