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Smarter Cities and Communities

26 November 2013
by eub2 -- last modified 26 November 2013

City leaders, CEOs and civil society leaders discussed today at a conference hosted by the European Commission actions outlined in the "Smart Cities Strategic Implementation Plan" and how to put them into practice. The Commission announced that it will launch an 'Invitation for Smart City and Community Commitments' in spring 2014 to mobilise work on the action plan's priorities. The plan is part of Europe's fifth "Innovation Partnership". Cities are the major source of European economic activity and innovation. But cities are also a major source of greenhouse gases and pollution. Concerted action is needed to make urban environments cleaner and healthier to live in and to make them use less energy. The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities and its "Strategic Implementation Plan" are leading the way in making the transformation of cities into "Smart Cities" a reality. Real impact could be made through investments in 'zero/plus' energy districts, increased use of alternative energies for cleaner transport, public transport and efficient logistics to reduce negative impacts of congestion, or green, widely available ICTs and multiple-use infrastructures.


What is a Smart City?

Smart Cities are cities which best use modern, integrated technology services and infrastructure in energy, transport and ICT to respond to the social and economic needs of society.

What is the Smart Cities European Innovation Partnership (EIP)?

The Smart Cities European Innovation Partnerships bring together stakeholders across policies, across sectors and across borders to roll out integrated, scaleable and sustainable smart city solutions. This partnership provides these actors with a forum in which they can identify, develop and deploy innovative solutions and ensure the smoothest possible transition from conception to implementation. In particular, the partnerships

  • define a common vision and mobilise resources to achieve breakthroughs more rapidly;
  • reduce time-to-market of research and innovation breakthroughs;
  • make it easier for all to achieve scalable results by overcoming fragmentation of
  • efforts and by reducing complexity.

Who is involved in the EIP on Smart Cities and Communities?

The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities brings together cities, industry, non-profit organisations and the research community to work on how to best harness innovative technologies, new funding mechanisms and innovative public private partnerships to address the challenges faced by cities and communities in Europe. The preparatory phase of the European Partnership was steered by a High Level Group that was composed of high level representatives from industry, urban practitioners, research and cities that was supported by a larger Sherpa group. The Smart cities Stakeholder Platform also provide advice to the High Level Group.

List of members of the High Level Group of this EIP

What is a "Strategic Implementation Plan"?

On 14 October 2013, the High Level Group of the EIP for Smart Cities and Communities adopted a Strategic Implementation Plan for speeding up the transformation of European cities into Smart Cities. The plan presents recommendations on how to best harness innovative technologies, innovative funding mechanisms and innovative public private partnerships. It highlights actions needed to create the right framework conditions to make our cities better places to live and to do business in, to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and congestion.

The plan is drafted by - and based on a thorough consultation of - a great variety of actors from industry, cities, civil society and research. It focuses on three specific areas where solutions converge in sustainable urban mobility, sustainable districts, and integrated infrastructures across energy, ICT and transport. It proposes a variety of actions to improve the enabling environment for achieving success in these areas. These include a common set of Smart City standards, "open data by default", new ways of designing planning solutions, the creation of "innovation zones", new business/value models and improving integrated city planning and management.

The Strategic Implementation Plan also developed a recommendation for setting up "Lighthouse Projects" - cities which will demonstrate and deliver Smart City solutions on a large scale.

What is currently being done and how the EIP moves things forward?

In Europe, a number of smart city initiatives are already on-going at national, regional and city levels. Some others are being set up, for example in standardisation. The European Innovation Partnership seeks to accelerate action; make evidence-based changes clearly visible and to do so at scale.

As recommended by the Strategic Implementation Plan, practical actions will reflect the need for far greater collaboration within and across areas; a change to some traditional and complex city value chains; and the development and application of more common co-created approaches – implemented together, or at minimum repeated across Europe's cityscape.

What are the next steps?

In the coming months, the recommendations of the Strategic Implementation Plan will be turned into practical actions that will be described in the Operational Plan.

The Smart cities and communities Stakeholders Platform will continue to support the activities of the Partnership by identifying and spreading relevant information on technology solutions and needs required by practitioners.

The European Commission will launch an open invitation for "Smart City and Community Commitments" in spring 2014, which should lead to the deployment of Smart City solutions that achieve a triple bottom line gain for Europe: better quality of life for our citizens, more competitive industry and SMEs, and more sustainable energy, transport and ICT systems and infrastructures.

As a follow-up of the recommendations of the Strategic Implementation Plan, Lighthouse projects could be partly financed by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, using competitive calls for proposals. Further private and public funding (for example the European Structural and Investment Funds) will help to spread these new solutions to other cities, and economies of scale will help to make solutions available to all cities and neighbourhoods.

The Commission will also ensure that the EIP's work will be linked with on-going and future work to improve framework conditions, for example in regulation, in standardisation and in evaluation/ progress monitoring.

How can cities, businesses and other organisations get involved?

Any city, company, association, government or research body is invited to implement the recommendations of the Strategic Implementation Plan by developing own initiatives and taking on commitments on Smart Cities by investments, new forms of cooperation and sharing resources.

There are a number of ways to increase your involvement:

- by signing up to the Smart cities and communities Stakeholders Platform

- by participating in the "Invitation for Smart City and Community Commitments".

This Invitation will be launched in spring 2014 by the European Commission. The benefits of participating are to get increased European visibility of your activities, the opportunity to cooperate with others on similar topics and to create large scale investment programmes that will push scale and speed in innovation in cities. The Invitation's format will be partially based on earlier commitment calls made in the European Innovation Partnerships of Active, healthy ageing and Water.

- by participating in the Horizon 2020 calls for proposals, that will be launched late 2013.