Smart and innovative cities make the best use of Europe’s great capacity for research and innovation to improve the urban environment. In essence, a smart city/community combines diverse technologies to increase the efficiency of how a city functions. Cities and industries join forces to develop a joint technology agenda.
One of the greatest challenges facing Europe is how best to design and adapt cities into smart, intelligent, sustainable environments.
- Cities create some 80% of the EU’s gross domestic product with their concentration of trade, business and “people expertise”. Cities are a driving force in generating Europe’s economic growth.
- They will become even more important as the proportion of Europeans living in urban areas grows from just over two-thirds today to a forecast 85% by 2050.
- 68% of the EU population lives in urban areas, which consume 70% of energy. This accounts for 75% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
- The information and communications technology (ICT) sector will require more and more electricity by 2020.
- Urban transport is responsible for one-quarter of all the emissions from road transport.
- Congestion costs Europe about 1% of GDP every year – most of if it from urban areas.
At present however, cities are confronted with many obstacles when it comes to the use of smart technologies: barriers to the adoption of efficient technologies, difficulties for the promotion of innovation in public procurement or uncertainty about returns on investment. In tough economic times, businesses are also reluctant to scale up and rapidly deploy innovative technologies despite potential cost savings and longer-term emissions reductions.
In addition, the transport, energy and ICT services and value chains are now converging. The idea is that industry tests technology in a given city/community to show that the technology it developed works on the ground, can be implemented for reasonable costs and has advantages for citizens and the whole community.
Many technologies have been tested by industry under laboratory conditions and need to be validated under real conditions of a city. The projects therefore bring competent industrial consortia (composed of R&D intensive industries from the three sectors) together with one or two cities to demonstrate their advantages – so that other cities may follow to implement the same technologies.
EU funding will be concentrated on a limited number of demonstration projects with high impact. It is therefore foreseen that: 1.Starting from 2014, a High Level Group will formulate a technological agenda with the most important aspects/issues to be addressed. 2.Based on this agenda, the European Commission will make calls for proposals. Industry-consortia can apply, submitting their project ideas.
European Commissen, July 10th 2012