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This section describes various ways to develop smart city narratives and to translate these into plans ready for implementation by highlighting examples of the cities of La Spezia, San Sebastian, Bolzano and the Scottish Cities Alliance (see Garcia 2016).

Although the trajectories of La Spezia, San Sebastian, Bolzano and Scottish Cities Alliance have many elements in common, they emphasize different aspects of the process of drafting Smart City strategies and plans. La Spezia is an example of a predominantly bottom-up process where wide involvement of the local community quickly produced actions, which are later checked for feasibility, funding opportunities and alignment with current municipal plans. The examples of San Sebastian and Bolzano show how earlier European projects or participation in ambitious city networks

can lay the foundation for even more ambitious and integrated smart city plans, such as lighthouse projects, by organizing the quadruple helix collaboration and defining the local core elements for smart, energy-efficient neighbourhoods. Finally, Smart Cities Scotland shows how a common approach of seven cities can act as a catalyst to strategy and plan development and securing investments in each individual city, for example by identifying shared priorities between cities in a self-assessment process.

La Spezia

La Spezia is located in the north of Italy, close to Genua. The city administration developed two strategic plans (1999 and 2012) and developed in addition a series of sectoral plans aimed to a sustainable urban development. Among these, an Integrated Mobility Plan, a SEAP (SEAP) validated by the EC JRC in the frame of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy initiative in 2012, plans for broadband and Wi-Fi deployment and several urban regeneration plans. However, the economic crisis imposed to redesign a strategy for a long-term city development, with the need for an integrated and achievable strategy aiming at the recovery of competitiveness. The integrated approach should combine urban innovation, urban regeneration, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, social housing, and smart cities and communities, as a result of both bottom-up (community driven) and top-down (municipal smart governance) policies.
Key elements of the process were involvement and participation, use of innovative technologies, and public-private partnerships. An extensive participatory process in spring 2015 involved more than 100 local organisations, universities and industry, and focused on the specialization sectors of the region. Participation was organized around five thematic tables of qualified stakeholders: Smart Mobility, Technology of the Sea and Environment, Smart Environment, Smart Economy, and Living & People. Together the participants created an inspiring mind map (figure 1-9). The Master Plan was approved in November 2015. Subsequently, in Phase 2 between January and September 2016, the feasibility of the proposed actions was checked in order to start building projectswith the actors: 

● Experimental forms of public-private partnership and to organise funding for the development of the actions proposed;
● Making choices in line with the market, but also with the development strategies of the city;
● Maintaining the sharing and co-planning method even at the stage of project development;
● Focusing on human capital and territorial excellences.

In this way, long-term aims were translated into proper short-term actions, summarised in the LA SPEZIA 20.20 plan. After that, the next steps in Phase 3 focused on the definition of projects, with clear technical and financial feasibility of the proposed actions, continuity with actions already taken (coherence), synergy with the transversal themes (sea, tourism, ICT), availability of progressive investments, creation of partnerships, awareness and responsibility by each referent and its working group. 

Figure 1-8 La Spezia 20.20 involves the local stakeholders around five thematic tables and creates a mind-map. Source: La Spezia

At this stage, La Spezia needed funds for implementation of the plans, but also knowledge: financial and contractual expertise (for instance on pre-commercial procurement), and case studies and lessons learnt by other local bodies. A couple of projects were started. After local elections in 2017, the new Municipal Board has continued the participative process started with La Spezia 2020, but because the envisaged projects were already well-defined or going on, some projects have been continued and new ones have been started. For example, in the environmental field in the context of the fight against climate change, ERDF funding has been concentrated on projects financed both by regional  planning (Plan of reduction of hydrogeological risks) and by territorial cooperation (Project Adapt - Interreg Maritime). On the Mobility front, the integrated and sustainable vision was collected in the new SUMP and presented a smart moblity project to the Ministry of Transport. Regarding Smart Economy, a Laboratory for Economic Development (with associations, universities and research subjects) has been created and it is focusing on the issue of circular economy applied to nautical industry. Around the Smart Government topic, some projects have been financed by the objective thematic “Digital Agenda” of the regional ERDF operational program.

San Sebastian

Donostia - San Sebastian, located in the North of Spain, developed an integrated planning process in the city and converted it into strategic projects (see Garcia 2016). The planning process started following the methodology defined earlier in the FP7 project STEEP – Systems Thinking for Efficient Energy Planning, together with the cities of Bristol (UK) and Florence (Italy) (STEEP, 2015). The development of the Smart City Plan involved all the municipal departments, but also 187 people from 96 different organisations (companies, universities, R&D centres, regional government bodies, and citizens). The process had two main goals:
● A main strategic line with shared objectives.
● Coherence (consistency) and Coordination in the Public Action.

Figure 1-9 Outlook of the methodology defined in the FP7 STEEP project. Source: STEEP

The process defined several strategic projects, including among them the URUMEA RIVER SIDE project that focused on an area with social, territorial and mobility challenges. The city administration selected the project to apply for funding as a lighthouse project in HORIZON 2020 SCC-01 call of 015 and succeeded as the best valued project of this call with the proposal REPLICATE, again together with the cities of Bristol and Florence. This provided the chance to implement the ideas for smart city and low energy district projects developed earlier during STEEP project, see figure 1-11. What is more, San Sebastian developed meanwhile a comprehensive smart city strategy (Fomento San Sebastian, 2015).

Figure 1-10. San Sebastian process, from planning (STEEP) to implementation. Source: REPLICATE

Smart Cities Scotland

Since 2011, the Scottish Cities Alliance involves seven Scottish cities: Glasgow (the biggest one with near 500k inhabitants), Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Perth and Stirling (the smallest) and the Scottish Government. None of the seven cities are big, so they need collaboration. Scotland’s “Agenda for Cities” from March 2016 has the objective of maximising the impact of cities as economic drivers of growth. The agenda is delivered through the Scottish Alliance Operational Plan priorities:
● Low Carbon
● Infrastructure
● Smart Cities

The operations priorities focus on innovative solutions and attracting investments, and work to create an environment to test new ideas, technologies and businesses. Collaboration across the seven cities is a need. ERDF funds were used to develop a common plan. It is interesting to see how this process was organised for all seven cities, as this form of regional collaboration proved to be very successful.

First of all the Alliance has performed a self-assessment process for planning, thus identifying the priorities shared between the cities. The process has followed the NESTA “City initiatives for technology, innovation & entrepreneurship (CITIE) Scotland analysis. Each city has identified its level of Maturity on Strategic Intent, Data, Technology, Governance & Service Delivery Models and Citizen & Business Engagement, leading to the identification of opportunities (see figure 1-12).

Following the development of a collaborative strategy, the brand Smart Cities Scotland has been created, widening the market size for smart city projects in Scotland and promoting the unique intercity approach to develop Smart City solutions. Furthermore, the ERDF-funded first phase of “Scotland’s 8th City – the Smart City” Programme was launched to boost investments (public and private) and to assist the cities to make savings and achieve better outcomes via effective citizen-led innovation. One of the outcomes has been a blueprint for involved cities with suggestions for actions to be taken (Scottish Cities Alliance, 2016).

Figure 1-11. Overview of the Nesta CITIE nine policy roles that are the basis for the analysis. Source: Nesta

December 2018, an additional 15 million euros have been devoted by ERDF to the second phase f the programme, bringing the total investment in smart city projects to 60 million. The funds will be mainly spent to finance actions which foster the creation of new technologies, transforming the
delivery of city services within the framework of this “Scotland’s 8th City – The Smart City Strategic Intervention” programme. Its projects target a substantial development of smart technologies such as: mobile working (application for business data sharing), IoT (infrastructure projects for data sharing to reduce operational costs), seven cities data platforms (same standard of quality for data from each city platform) smart waste management, energy and mobility. The City of Glasgow is leading this programme, while demonstrating itself innovative, smart city solutions in a lighthouse project in Ruggedised SCC-01 project.


The City of Bolzano, 105.000 inhabitants and located in the north of Italy, developed its smart city vision by working on several milestones. The first milestone was Bolzano’s selection as “Alpine Town of the Year” in 2009, thanks to its commitment to achieving local carbon dioxide emission neutrality in the near future. In the same year, the city was, together with other 200 European cities, among the first ignatories and supporters of the Covenant of Mayors, a second milestone. Following, with the help of local research organisation EURAC’s Institute for Renewable Energy, the municipality drafted the vision Action plan for Bolzano CO2 neutral” in 2010: a third milestone towards a smart city vision. EURAC has supported the city for several years in becoming cleaner, more liveable and smarter. The action plan specifies how to move towards the goal of carbon neutrality by specific actions, and by linking various urban strategic planning tools. 

The development of the City of Bolzano is guided not only by traditional tools such as a building codes and urban zoning plans, but also by a master plan and a strategic plan, which interact at different levels with the issues related to energy and to urban development. 

The Strategic Development Plan of the City of Bolzano “Ideas 2015 - Thinking about the City “ can be considered as a fourth important milestone. It has examined the strengths and weaknesses of the city and opportunities for the local community in four major thematic areas: society; culture and tourism; economy and employment; territory and environment. It aims to strengthen the existing positive trends, and find solutions to mitigate or reverse negative trends. In coordination with this, the Master Plan further specifies the organization of the territory and the structural contents, and is a reference framework for the development of a future Urban Planning Plan.

A fifth milestone was the approval of the SEAP in June 2014, which works in synergy and within the framework of the Masterplan’s directives, with the latter having one section entirely dedicated to energy issues and the reduction of GHG emissions (Vaccaro et al., 2014). EURAC supported the
development of this SEAP, while the research institute also prepared a research and innovation project on smart cities, funded by the 7th EU Research framework programme (FP7). This SINFONIA project is a five-year initiative to deploy large-scale, integrated and scalable energy solutions in mid-sized European cities. The cooperation between the two pilot cities Bolzano (IT) and Innsbruck (AT) is at the heart of the initiative. An integrated set of measures, combining the deep energy retrofitting of more than 100,000 sqm of living surface in social housing blocks, optimisation of the electricity grid, and the introduction of smart solutions for district heating and cooling, has achieved 40 to 50% primary energy savings and an increase in the share of renewables by 20% in two pioneer districts in both cities. Working at the “district level”, involving people, and bridging the gap between demonstration and largescale replication, are the essential points of SINFONIA (see figure 1-12).

Figure 1-12. District integrated approach developed by the SINFONIA project. Source: Bisello & Vettorato (2018)


A large part of the project is therefore dedicated to the transferability and scalability of the solutions deployed in the two pioneer districts to other neighbourhoods in the same cities and to other urban contexts, as for example those represented by five follower cities around Europe: Pafos (CY), Rosenheim (DE), Seville (ES), La Rochelle (FR) and Borås (SE).