Is everyone getting Smart to Smart Cities?

  1. Smart Cities and Horizon 2020?

Smart cities are high on the agenda for the Europe 2020 Initiative which proposes the use of digital and telecommunication technologies within smart cities to increase sustainability and decrease environmental impact. This will in turn provide better public services, better use of resources and increased efficiencies through the use of alternative networks and supplies of electricity, heating, water etc. Our cities will become more interactive and responsive, and (in theory) more efficient as a result.

  1. The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities.

In December 2014, the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) called for proposals for smart city projects and solutions that would integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), energy and transport sectors to provide innovative solutions to tackle issues such as congestion, air pollution and high energy costs. The aim of the Partnership was to bring together cities, industry and citizens to increase sustainability through better mobility, a cleaner urban environment and increased energy efficiency. An infographic of the project outline can be found here.

Last week, the European Commission nominated Triangulum as the lead project for the Smart Cities and Communities initiative, to be run in partnership with Horizon 2020 (an EU research and innovation funding scheme). The project will be led by Fraunhofer IAO and tested across the following three typologically representative European cities: Manchester (UK), Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Stavanger (Norway). The concept will then be transferred to Leipzig (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic) and Sabadell (Spain).

In Manchester, Triangulum will transform the student district (known as the Corridor, with around 72,000 students) into a smart city district. They will renovate historical buildings and establish an autonomous energy grid to supply the heating and electricity throughout the grid. This will be done using geothermal and district heating combined with two independent electricity grids. A fuel cell will also be incorporated to store excess energy. Only electric vehicles, bicycles and the “Metrolink” electric tram will be allowed within the district (conventional cars will be banned). In Eindhoven the ICT infrastructure will further facilitate the use of electric vehicles, from booking district car-sharing to using smart parking concepts.

  1. Other Smart City initiatives.

This initiative is just the tip of the ‘smart city iceberg’. More initiatives are being created every month, not just in Europe but worldwide. The latest such initiative, the IC Tomorrow Programme, was launched last week by Innovate UK, in partnership with TfL, Clear Channel Outdoor, Centro and Atkins, to find innovative digital technology solutions for some of London’s biggest urban problems. Four winners will each receive £35,000 in funding and commercial help to develop their technologies for trial in 2016.

Smart city projects are being embraced throughout Europe. When the European Innovation Partnership called for smart city projects and solutions proposals in 2014, they received 370 commitments from more than 3000 partners, from 31 countries.

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