Smart Cities and CommunitiesShould we dream of electric cities & let the internet of things take over? Bristol thinks so. It's not alone. Over 41 cities in Europe have already signed a Green Digital Charter; 11 of them capital cities. Now any interested parties have been invited to sign up to the next stage: Smart Cities and Communities.

Green Digital Charter signatory cities commited to work with other cities on ICT and energy efficiency and undertook to decrease the direct carbon footprint of ICT by 30% within 10 years by the adoption of Energy Star and EU labelling schemes and training in energy efficiency behaviors. A Green Digital Charter toolkit is available.

Special attention is being given to the development of EU-China partnerships and close collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors. The Charter has been supported by the Networking intelligent Cities for Energy Efficiency (NiCE) funding stream. This has now finished, and for this reason the Smart Cities and Communities Platform is issuing a new invitation to participte in a major push to develop smart city applications and a smart city culture.

Smart Cities and Communities

Cities are the major source of European economic activity and innovation. Although every city is unique many struggle with similar issues: congestion, air pollution, raising energy costs etc. Smart urban technologies and services offer enormous prospects in this regard, but greater concerted action between cities, industry, innovative SMEs, research organisations and civil society actors is needed to accelerate their roll-out.

Potential participants are therefore invited to step forward and to join this programme by communicating and sharing their ideas and plans for actions at the interface of energy, transport and information and communication technologies.

The intention is that bringing together innovative ideas and actions from across Europe this way will help develop a dynamic market place for innovation exchange and partnering, to the benefit of cities, citizens and companies.

Why submit a commitment?

Often, cities or companies have good ideas but struggle to find the right partners. This leads to delays and creates additional costs. Becoming part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities is all about finding the right partners, facilitating synergies between city authorities and companies together with other stakeholders so that also access to finance becomes facilitated.

Submitting a commitment offers several opportunities for learning, partnering, efficiency gains and new creation of new business. You could:

  • promote your actions on a European scale and stage;
  • engage with others to get new ideas and feedback on your actions;
  • learn from others and exchanges best practices;
  • partner with others to jointly shape new or expanding existing projects , create cost savings and attract private sector funding.

The initiative comes from the European Innovation Partnership; its ultimate aim is defined as: "a significant improvement of citizens' quality of life, an increased competitiveness of Europe's industry and innovative SMEs together with a strong contribution to sustainability and the EU's 20/20/20 energy and climate targets".

Its Operational Implementation Plan has 11 different working parties which will all tackle different aspects of smart cities:

  • sustainable urban mobility
  • Districts and built environment
  • Integrated infrastructures
  • Citizen focus
  • Policy and regulation
  • Integrated planning and management
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Baselines, performance indicators and metrics
  • Open data
  • Standards
  • Business models, finance and procurement.


 smart cities and communities operational implementation plan table of the objectives

The operational implementation plan is a detailed, 111 page document which discusses each of the 11 priority areas and provides for each one table with a number of potential actions for each area shown how smart data and the Internet of things can apply in each aspect of city life.

A complementary Strategic Implementation Plan concentrates on three specific, vertical areas for the time being in order to gain energy and gain momentum:

  1. Sustainable Urban Mobility – Alternative energies, public transport, efficient logistics, planning;
  2. Sustainable Districts and Built Environment –improving the energy efficiency of buildings and districts, increasing the share of renewable energy sources used and the liveability of our communities;
  3. Integrated Infrastructures and processes across Energy, ICT and Transport – connecting infrastructure assets to improve the efficiency and sustainability of cities.

Together with eight key horizontal enablers on the themes of Decisions, Insight, and Financing, the operational plan uses these to propose a number of actions; examples of which include:

  • Creating a number of “Lighthouse Initiatives” that bring together groups of cities with industry and innovative SMEs from the ICT, energy and mobility & transport sector to deliver common Smart City solutions;
  • Advancing smart city open standards;
  • Developing infrastructure platforms;
  • Making widely available relevant data in the urban domain by encouraging public and private sectors to publish their data openly by default;
  • Creating a common framework the developed citizen insight and sharing this amongst cities in the European Union;
  • Developing a smart city strategy at policy level allowing for the creation of "innovation zones" so the cities or areas can be freed up from the constraints of regulation and selected domains to act as incubators for test solutions;
  • Annually exchanging staff between cities, industries and relevant NGOs to crowd source the best ideas;
  • Agreeing a common smart city indicator framework to help cities self-evaluate, monitor progress and compare themselves with other cities.

Potential signatories are encouraged to take a look at the Strategic Implementation Plan and identify those priority areas that you would like to contribute to. The Operational Implementation Plan spells out each of these areas in some greater detail and also lists a number of specific potential actions in each area; these potential actions can serve as guidance and inspiration, but also Commitments beyond the actions listed in the Operational Implementation Plan are welcome.

The submission process for a Commitment is done via an online application form. The deadline for applications is 15 June 2014.