Urenio Watch Watch: Digital Cities / Cyber Cities

Smart Cities Workshop

Smart-CityThe Smart Cities Workshop, held in Brussels on 16th-17th November 2009, was organised by EuroCities in collaboration with the Directorate-General Information Society and Media, European Commission. The Workshop explored the challenges around how open innovation can support the uptake of future Internet-enabled services in smart cities.

The meeting brought together around 35 participants, including representatives from city and municipal authorities, the ICT industry and the research community. Participants had broad experience in city administration, Living Labs, Smart City applications, and web and internet technologies. Meeting over two half-days at EuroCities’ premises in Brussels, they heard invited presentations from Commission representatives and city practitioners, and engaged in wide-ranging discussion, brainstorming and groupwork on the way forward.

The event was closely linked to an upcoming funding call within the Commission’s ICT Policy Support Programme. The call is expected to launch in late January 2010 and will fund up to five pilots with the aim of accelerating the uptake of innovative Internet-based technologies and services in cities.

Although the meeting did not attempt an all-embracing definition, in broad terms a “Smart City’ is understood to mean a city that makes a conscious effort to innovatively employ information and communication technologies (ICT) to support a more inclusive, diverse and sustainable urban environment. More specifically, in terms of future policies, the Workshop considered the future use of ICT in cities from three complementary perspectives:

  1. The maturing of Future Internet technologies and services: The internet with its services and social networks has become a critical part of our daily life, and internet based services are now at the centre of our society and economy. At the same time, new and possibly disruptive internet technologies are emerging ‘“ location-based technologies, internet of things, new trust and security platforms, multimodal user interfaces, 3D content, simulation technologies, to name just a few. This so-called Future Internet is expected to be the basis for a new wave of internet-based services.
  2. Cities as platforms for new internet-based services: This next generation of internet based services has the potential to transform our lives, society and business in the ‘˜smart’ city and in general. As microcosms at the heart of social and economic life, cities offer important platforms for the development, testing and benchmarking of these new internet-enabled services. In order to speed take-up and ensure everybody is able to benefit from this transformation, it is essential that these new internet-based services are based on common open platforms.
  3. Open and user-driven innovation as drivers for new service adoption: Many cities in Europe and across the world already invest significantly in common platforms for internet-based services cutting across application domains. The current situation is highly fragmented, however, with many first-class developments existing as islands within their own city environments or limited networks. Neither the individual application areas nor individual cities have the resources or the potential to address this alone; it is essential that cities connect to share best practices and explore together in becoming pathfinders for this new wave of technologies and services. Open innovation has the potential to become the key driver for this transformation. User-driven open innovation methodologies or ecosystems, such as Living Labs, have enormous potential in bridging the innovation gap between technology development and the rapid active use of new internet-based services.

The development of common open platforms is an important element here. Openness facilitates interoperability, integration and user-friendliness, and has become a key focus in the development of future internet-enabled services. This aspect is largely missing from smart city applications at present, where the situation is highly fragmented.


Smart Cities workshop report, November 2009