Francisco Javier García Vieira leads the Area in Public Digital Services of Red.es, a public Spanish institution under the Ministry of Industry which works towards the optimization of the ICT benefits for the Spanish society. He is also the public officer representing Spain in the Six-Nations Forum commitment.
The core group of public officers met on 28th April 2014 in London for the first Six-Nations Smart Cities Forum Event to discuss common needs and explore their agendas on smart cities. The Six-Nations works as a permanent contact forum which has kept track of the initial discussions during later regular calls and meetings. Last meeting of the core group took place on November 18th 2015 during the Smart City Expo in Barcelona.
What is the role of The Six-Nations Forum as a commitment in the Market Place?
The Six Nation Forum is an opportunity to share experiences and views on the evolution of the Smart City concept in cooperation with the municipalities and with the industry. Topics such as policy, regulation, governance and funding, amongst others, are covered in the forum meetings.
Could you describe the commitment in a few words?
To identify those hurdles which slow down the development of both municipalities and the private sector and determine how they can be removed by collaborative action amongst departments within countries and between countries and thus providing an effective forum to share, between central governments, their experience supporting cities.
What benefits will the collaboration between the six nations bring to European smart cities?
In the first place, the exchange of experiences will facilitate a faster and more consistent deployment of public policies in the member states, thus benefiting cities (and citizens) as well as European companies providing goods and services for Smart Cities. Moreover, the deliverables produced by each nation, and by the forum itself, will be shared with the rest of European states, allowing other agencies and government bodies, involved in the promotion of the Smart Cities, to have a clear perspective on what the Six Nations are doing.
One of the Six-Nations Forum regular themes tackles how to close the gap between the lead cities and the less advanced ones. What were the outcomes of this? How should countries that are advanced in smart city developments help out and serve as a model for less competitive cities in the implementation of improvements?
Despite the fact that needs differ according to the size of the cities, every city, irrespectively of its size and population, can benefit from the use of ICT. Large municipalities have, most of the times, the human and financial resources to launch Smart City projects. Smaller municipalities, on the other hand, may lack the required resources. To prevent a widening divide, assistance and funding from the central government is required. The reuse of models and solutions is, as well, a means to overcome the effect of those limited resources. The creation of networks of cities, combined with the support of the central government, is an effective way to make the Smart City concept affordable to smaller cities.
As a representative of Spain in the Six-Nations Forum, how do you see the evolution of your country towards smart cities within the EU in the past few years?
Over the past years, and within the scope of the Digital Agenda for Spain, the National Plan for Smart Cities has been elaborated and approved. The Plan is the outcome of a process of dialogue with all actors involved: municipalities, academia, private sector and central government and its aim is to foster, decisively, the development of Smart Cities in Spain, in a two-fold way: increasing the number and “depth” of Smart Cities, and provoking a consistent demand of ICT goods and services for Smart Cities, thus increasing the weight of the ICT sector in Spanish GDP.
What are the common identified challenges for all European nations that should be addressed regarding Smart Cities?
Challenges such as regulation, standardization, funding and governance are common to all countries. In most of them, such as regulation, standardization and governance, the exchange of views and experiences between states can be very productive. Standardization among member states is key for future development of smart cities in Europe as well as to foresee future requirements for future cities. The definition of a unique model for a smart city in Europe is a key driver and our main strength for positioning our model worldwide. In this sense Spain is one of the pioneers. We have worked hard on governance standards and keep on pushing hard on the definition of models that are fully operational and exportable to other countries. The way funding is provided to cities can vary significantly from country to country and that exchange of approaches and of its results can be very positive as well.