European Commission DG Connect: report on Smart Cities

Back to the texts page
(You can also download this report from the commission website)

Report on the workshop on Smart Cities as Open, Shared Experimental Platforms and Ecosystems

Rapporteur Jarmo Eskelinen, Vice-chair, Connected Smart Cities network; CEO, Forum Virium Helsinki Ltd.; President, European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL)

 Co-rapporteur Artur Serra, i2cat (Barcelona)

1. Presentations

2. Discussion Notes

3. Identified Challenges

4. Proposals for Action (Towards Horizon 2020)

This report summarises the key messages of the workshop: key points from the submitted position papers presented during the morning session, points from the presentations during the ‘Smart City’ session (including the lessons learned from several projects related to the topic) and key messages from the open discussion. The topics summarized in this report under the chapters called discussion, identified challenges and proposals for action.

Since the event was one link in a longer series of events in getting ready for the Horizon 2020, some main messages from the previous activities have been included in this report. The full sources can be found at the end of the report, as three appendixes; executive summary of the FIREBALL smart city roadmap; results from the Connected Smart Cities network workshop, organised on September 13, 2012 in Brussels; and the letter to commissioner Neelie Kroes by the President of EUROCITIES, Mr. Frank Jensen, supporting Smart Cities and Communities.

Introduction and summary of the key messages

Olavi Luotonen introduced the session acknowledging that the concept of “Smart City” has become increasingly important in the framework of the FIRE initiative, becoming one of the three main strands.

Mr. Luotonen also defined the recently finished FIREBALL project (Coordination and Support Action, FP7) and the current activities being performed by the Smart City projects funded under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme[1] form a solid basis for the discussion.

The session, introduced by a set of five presentations followed by a discussion, aimed at identifying current challenges and to commonly discuss and identify actions to face and overcome them.

The key messages from the session were:

  • Because of the fast global pace of urbanization, cities are exceedingly important players in the global economy. Cities must have an active, central role in the smart city development.
  • By nature, city organisations tend to be slow movers. The smart city development, however, should be fast, since the demand is huge and the market is developing rapidly. European cities are yet to wake up to this development and the possibilities it offers. Common understanding and collaboration within cities and across city networks must be created and supported. Currently, the drivers for this shared development and adoption of joint platforms and solutions are missing. We need city networks and joint activities across cities.
  • Business success needs demand, smart cities need smart citizens. Smart city solutions should meet the needs of the people. In the International context European cities are well managed, with educated and responsible citizens. Thus, Europe has great potential in the Smart City sector and European cities can become exemplary cases to the world.  Currently, however, there is a lack of ecosystem thinking across Europe. Shared European policy making makes it possible to boost wide-scale adoption of new solutions, as the history of for example mobile phone development has proven. This top-down decision-making power should be connected to the power of active user and developer communities in the cities to create a positive feedback loop.
  • Smart cities are driven by Future Internet technologies and solutions; they are a combination of horizontal data & service platforms and vertical market sectors. The service development for smart cities should also follow the Internet model, harvesting the lateral power of the Web, utilizing wide-scale citizen participation and involvement, distributed value chains, fast prototyping and piloting, and service creation through experimentation.
  • Most cities have existing legacies (in ICT and the vertical services sectors) and the have to be retrofitted to become smart. In Europe, greenfield development is rare. Retrofitting requires both top-down and grassroots-up approaches: on one hand, cities should collaborate to agree on smart city standards and de-facto-standards, and on the other hands, they should support open approaches to data, licenses, interfaces and participation to create robust interoperablity. Standardisation should not slow down the development of the market.
  • Interoperability, duplicability and scalability of the services locally, regionally, nationally and internationally across numerous cities is the key to the success to smart cities and smart city service companies. One-city smart city platforms and solutions are too small-scale, and therefore too expensive to develop and maintain. Both open and licensing based models can be used, but the cities should avoid technology or vendor lock-ins.
  • Smart city development needs more industry collaboration, involving also the SME sector. Because of the Internet-like nature of smart city solutions, activating the developer community (SME’s, communities) to participate in the smart city service development is crucial. Currently the threshold for SME’s to participate in the development is too high. New activation and collaboration models, communication and networking activities, low-entry-barrier programs and fast funding models for prototyping, testing and experiments should be introduced.