In the last years, the European population is concentrating, primarily, in the metropolitan areas.

This urban sprawl is accompanied by relevant challenges concerning sustainability, social cohesion, adequate housing and efficient transport services.

By 2050, 80% of the global population will live in a town or a city.

For this reason, the European Commission is working to carry out the urban sustainability policy and its initiatives and Shaping Europe’s digital future policy to meet the targets set in the EU Green Deal. Specifically, in the context of Shaping Europe’s digital future policy, Smart Cities and Communities “are helping to tackle urban challenges, foster local economies“.

The European Commission is implementing the EU Smart Cities in several ways. European Commission goals, indeed, consist of achieving a smart city digital ecosystem, maximizing efficiency and flexibility, building consensus, connecting Europe, and looking towards climate-neutral and smart cities.

Smart Cities and Intelligent Solutions:

Smart Cities apply digital technologies to improve their people’s quality of life and increase the competitiveness of the local economy sustainably. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019). Smart cities are intelligent solutions for energy, housing, mobility – implemented. It should be pointed out that the intelligent solutions are based on integrated sensor technology, connectivity, data analysis and independently functional value-added process.

The intelligent solutions, previously mentioned, are mainly digital. They are, in fact, necessary digital tools for efficiently managing infrastructures, energy, housing and mobility in the urban environment. The basis of these solutions is called the “digital shadow” of a city. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

The “digital shadow” is developing in six service areas of a smart city. The services areas are:

  • smart environment
  • smart living
  • smart economy
  • smart mobility
  • smart governance and
  • smart people

Smart Environment:

The main purpose of the Smart Environment is to preserve the green areas and reduce the ground sealing, but at the same time ensure efficient mobility and good quality of life in the urban areas. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019). European Union is undertaking some missions.

The European Union missions are committed to solving major societal challenges like fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans, living in greener cities and ensuring soil health and food. Living in greener cities mission is strictly related to the smart cities issue.

Living in green cities mission will contribute to the goals of the European Green Deal, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, living in greener cities mission could play a key role in reaching the goals and targets set up by international policy frameworks as the COP21 Paris Agreement, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDG11), the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda.

Smart Living:

Smart living services are improving the quality of life in an urban context. Smart cities essentially service as cultural establishment, healthcare, security, housing amenities, social cohesion, tourism attractiveness and education. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

Smart Economy:

Smart cities should have smart economies. In this perspective, the urban area is the core of innovation ecosystems where start-ups, companies, or research groups collaborate or compete to develop innovative solutions and business models. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

Smart Mobility

Smart mobility is a fundamental service for considering an urban centre as a smart city. Smart mobility initiatives follow objectives such as sustainable, innovative, and secure transportation systems, access to diverse transportation modes, good availability in the entire city, nonmotorized transportation and integration of ICT in transportation systems. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

The European Green Deal (COM(2019)640) and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy (COM(2020)789) constitute the urban mobility framework at the European level.

The European Union is also moving forward with a policy related to battery-powered vehicles. Besides, the electrification of transport, known well as electromobility, is a European Union priority.

Smart Governance and Smart People:

Intelligent local governance is the basis for transforming an urban area into a smart city. The main components of smart government activity can be summarized as public participation, municipal services, transparency and OPEN DATA, ICT and e-governance. (Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

On the other hand, a smart city requires smart people. The citizens are called to participate the urban public life and social events or awareness campaigns. Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié, 2019)

EU Smart Cities: What’s next?

Last February, the evaluation of the EU 2013 Urban Mobility Package (SWD(2021)0047 was published. The evaluation demonstrates that the European Union needs to improve the action on urban mobility. Secondly, should be encouraged the cycling, increasing the bike trails. In this direction would seem to be some European initiatives as CIVITAS or the European Mobility Week campaign. Finally, citizens’ awareness campaigns on urban sustainability should be undertaken to create a smart city.

Indeed, in some EU Green Capitals or Green Leaf towns cases as Stockholm or Cornellà de Llobregat, the citizens’ awareness campaign is a fundamental success city or town factor.

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