Tag Archives: Europe

Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC)

One of the greatest challenges facing the EU in the future will be that cities have to start adapting to smart intelligent and sustainable environments. That’s why the European Commission launched a Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC). The main reasons why the Commission launched the SCC is to gather resources from energy, transport and the IT sector and they also want to boost the development of smart technologies in cities. They’ve set aside €365 million in EU funds for these types of urban technology solutions for 2013.

Cities have to grow into Smart Cities and they have to start developing and using innovative smart technologies. But cities face limitation in the development of these technologies due to high technological risks, difficulties over certain returns on investments or regulatory difficulties.

Günther Oettinger, Energy Commissioner, pointed out that innovations are needed in Europe to drive competitiveness and he said that innovation is the best means of addressing energy efficiency. The new technologies, like high efficiency heating and cooling systems, smart metering, real-time energy management and zero-energy buildings, that already exist need to be spread more among all the European cities and the SCC will help with this.

Siim Kallas, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, added that European cities suffer a lot from road accidents, poor air quality and noise. He said it’s important to work towards CO2 free cities and to get there, more advanced research and innovation is needed. And Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President responsible for digital agenda, added that cities need to rethink how to reduce congestion and increase energy efficiency in the urban environment. He said it’s the ICT that puts the “smart” in Smart Cities and this challenges other industries.

Some of the major challenges that the SCC will tackle are for example the congestion. Nearly 75% of European citizens live in cities and they consumer about 70% of EU’s energy, this costs Europe about 1% of its GDP every year. So the smart urban technologies need to tackle challenges like this.

Connected cities are needed to survive the urban growth

The UK government wants the UK to be the technology centre for Europe this year. But to achieve this, they will have to look at every part of their economy. One area that is being closely looked at lately is our cities. To drive growth, cities need to be more connected. These highly connected cities need to be driven by super-fast connectivity and they can help drive the British innovation over the next few years.

But if the UK wants highly connected cities in the future, they need to start planning things now. And they already have been thinking about this. An example is the Intel Collaborative Research Institute (ICRI) for Sustainable Connected Cities. ICRI is a joint effort between two of London’s top universities: University College and Imperial College London.

Social, economic and environmental challenges need to be tackled and it’s up to this new institute to investigate how technologies can help tackle these issues. They want London to become a ‘smart city lab’ and they want to create a blueprint for ‘connected cities’ in the UK.

So the researchers of this new institute will investigate some of the new intelligent technologies to use on our cities. An example is the network of sensors that can be used to quickly access data on trends for traffic, pollution and water supply. If they have all this data, they can analyze it to see how well the city is operating. Norway already has a centralized data platform like this called ‘CityData’.

A real-life application of this can be the traffic monitoring. Traffic congestions can be monitored and analyzed to develop smart transport timetabled and alerts. Councils could start to target areas to send more wardens, re-route traffic or provide warnings on mobile apps.

But this can only work when you have a huge amount of data at hand. So the right tools and bandwidth need to be in place first before you can start capturing and carrying these high volumes of information. When the connectivity isn’t restricted to just big businesses but to all of the city, innovation and growth can be stimulated and can flourish.

So using data more wisely is a very good new innovative approach to cities. London is already embracing this with as an example the London Gird for Learning (LGFL). All 33 London local authorities are involved in LGFL, and it’s making the most out of a dedicated public services network. It’s already providing schools with new technologies like e-learning tools such as video conferencing, virtual learning platforms and podcasts.

By 2050, there will be about nine billion people on this world, and most of them will be living in urban spaces. If cities don’t prepare systems to manage every aspect of the way a city operates, they will be challenged in all sorts of ways.  So cities need to start investing today in forward-thinking research and super-fast connectivity that will make the ‘connected cities’ reality.

Europe’s Smart City Initiative

Last year, Europe has set up an Initiative on Smart Cities. The Initiative fosters the dissemination throughout Europe of the most efficient models and strategies to progress towards a low carbon future. European countries should be progressing towards the energy and climate objectives at a local level while maintaining or improving the quality of live. Investments in energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emission can be used to improve local economies.

The Initiative wants a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (with start year 1990), which is very ambitious. This reductions can be obtained by using and producing sustainable energy. The Initiative will support cities and regions in creating a systematic approach and organizational innovation to encompass energy efficiency, low carbon technologies and the smart management of supply and demand. The main components of the Initiative is the measures of buildings, local energy networks and transport. Local authorities have to propose and implement holistic problem-solving approaches that use appropriate technology and policy measures.

Things that have to been done is for example the refurbishment of existing buildings so they use as less energy as possible while increasing performances and comfort. A good example of these sort of buildings are passive buildings, using vacuum insulation, windows, cool roofs,… New buildings have to be build with zero energy requirements or net zero carbon emissions.

In terms of energy, smart grids, smart meters, energy management systems, smart appliances and equipments can be used. And when thinking about transport, we think about sustainable mobility. Advanced smart public transport, intelligent traffic management and more encouragements to walk and cycle.

And all these objectives have to be turned into actions. The Initiative helps with this according to a city’s ambitions and the risk that’s involved. So ambitious cities could get funding for technical assistance to facilitate access to loans and risk sharing loans. And pioneer cities, taking much greater risks because they use radical technology and organizational transformations, could in addition receive grants to support the implementation of the proposed package of technologies and measures.

For more information about the Initiative, its objectives and the actions that will be taken: http://setis.ec.europa.eu/about-setis/technology-roadmap/european-initiative-on-smart-cities