This plenary session focused on two key questions firstly what smart cities are and secondly what their challenges are. The European approach to Smart City developments, as for example illustrated by Living-in.eu and the Smart Cities and Communities, differs from ways taken elsewhere regarding especially the citizen-centric approach and the commitment to a value-driven implementation steered by local governments. This lively session discussed the benefits and challenges that a European way to [Climate Neutral] Smart Cities brings to businesses, urban innovation systems and cities at large.
Eddy Hartog, Head of Unit Technologies for Smart Communities, DG Connect, European Commission, stated that the management of data and its technical interoperability is key. It is about how data can be shared in a trusted environment. He further added that digital twins can tackle complex challenges. Local digital twins mixed with the right data platform will help us to steer our environments – you can visualise things.
Kari Nessa Nordtun, Mayor of Stavanger, Norway, said that Stavanger has always turned challenges into opportunities. For them, the European way is to at the same time emphasise citizen engagement and adopt ambitious climate goals. She described the Stavanger approach to Smart Cities. She stressed the importance of a citizen-centric approach and the use of collaboration and co-creation as the driving force for change.
Pirjo Jantunen, Business Development Manager at Helen stated that there is a typology of solutions to create impact. There are system-level solutions and consumer-level solutions. She described Helen’s smart city approach. Pirijo also outlined Helen’s engagement with a housing company in a project to optimise the heating in 50 000 apartments (2000 buildings),
Joachim D’Eugenio, Senior Expert and Policy Assistant, DG Environment, European Commission, outlined how the need to make choices impacts future generations to reach zero pollution. We need to learn from each other to make solutions inclusive from a societal point of view – that is what smartness means. He added that we need to leave our comfort zone to have smart climate-neutral green cities.
In the session, the audience were also asked for their view on what the biggest challenges and the purpose of a Smart City are.