On 26 January, more than 120 city representatives and project partners gathered in Brussels to discuss smart city solutions and the potential for replication between Lighthouse and Follower cities in the context of the Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities programme. Currently, the programme provides funding for 12 projects and 76 cities which implement a wide range of smart city solutions, ranging from citizen engagement, to e-mobility, to energy and infrastructure.
Smarter Together project was strongly represented the workshop, centred on the question of “how can Lighthouse city smart solutions be replicated in Follower cities?” The Smarter Together Follower cities Santiago de Compostela, Venice and Sofia, together with Lighthouse cities Munich and SPL Lyon Confluence, as well as partners Wavestone and Energy Cities represented the project in this important milestone for smart cities replication.
For the 40 Follower cities in the SCC cohort, Friday’s workshop offered a unique opportunity to gather and discuss openly the challenges and issues of replicating specific smart city measures with some of the fellow 36 Lighthouse cities who have been leading implementation of smart city initiatives within their respective demonstration areas. For the Follower cities, the meeting marked an important opportunity for increased exposure and exchange across projects, networks, the European Commission, and INEA.
The day began with opening remarks by INEA director Dirk Beckers, as well as a policy context for Smart Cities and Communities by DG Energy policy officer Jens Bartholmes. After an introduction of replication to the group, participants split into 3 thematic workshops of 2 sessions on the following key topics: urban mobility, low energy districts, and integrated infrastructure.
Smarter Together representatives served as moderators of various thematic areas including the topics of low energy districts – retrofit of residential buildings, virtual power plant and energy management systems, and integrated infrastructures - smart lighting and lampposts, and as general moderator of the urban mobility round tables.
One of the common threads amongst each of the working groups was the identification of barriers present to the implementation of smart city solutions. Following the two sessions, the groups reconvened once again to discuss these barriers and the types of changes need to be made in order to move past these inhibitors and towards facilitating replication and ensuring sustainable growth in smart city innovation.
Robert Goodchild from INEA and Jens Bartholmes closed the workshop, summarizing the mutual exchange and idea generation of the day by reaffirming that fostering cooperation and replication among Lighthouse and Follower cities is essential for the continued growth of European smart cities.