We know that many fashions are ephemeral, transitory. We know that the adoption of positions, policies and the choice of paths are often influenced by the media ‘hype’, by the immense information that comes through the several channels of communication that today the world has at its disposal to enter in our minds, induce us behaviors, desires and impulses. We know it all. And, it is also true that we embrace this truth many times in an unconscious way, but, many other times in a natural way and fully aware of it.
A few weeks ago, a responsible institutional said in his most decisive and eloquent way, that this “thing” of Smart Cities was a fashion. A passing thing which “soon disappears”. There are many others thinking like him. In fact, there is an immensity of information that is released every day that focuses on the topic of Smart Cities as if it were a fashion to which all must adhere frenetically, immediately and inevitably. It is true that there is information related to smart cities that sickens (at least, for me it gives me a stomach-churning). It is not because it is wrong, false or irresponsible information, but because it is inappropriate, archaic and (astound yourself!) completely ‘démodé’. Precisely! There are communication channels, especially the traditional ones (newspapers, radio, TV) that are mediatizingsolutions which are already anything but intelligent. Some are even obsolete and insignificant compared to the huge amount of interesting topics that, by not having so much attractive potential of communication, end up lost in the newsrooms. There are many examples of cities that communicate small supposed ‘innovations’ (for example the change of the traditional bulbs to led) that nowadays should already be things of the past, but there are still cities that do not have smart lighting and no one knows why. A few months ago, for example, a small company in Northern Europe proposed to a mayor to proceed with a smart lighting pilot test of last generation and never obtained an answer. However, the city that this mayor manages, boasts of having buildings of true architectural marks and organizes mountain bikes tours, has streets exclusively for pedestrians and a high-level help desk to the residents. But, it still does not have Smart Lights, nor intelligent irrigation systems of green spaces for example (the water runs through the streets during the summer, reaches the cars with open windows, floods sidewalks and it spends too much). Neither have mobile applications, nor the web systems and online information and communication with the residents of this century.
This apparent mismatch between what the public responsible believes that he has and what a smart city should have is one of the factors that sooner or later is placed on the table and analyzed in the light of the fashions. And later when they give in to the fashions, most of the solutions adopted are expensive, inefficient and unsustainable. Are not intelligent as, for example, is a sign of intelligence, take advantage of the potential of small and medium-sized companies, startups that are willing to promote their products and services until in a ‘freemium’ way (almost free at a first moment) but, for a reason that for the reason is unknown, it is simpler, in Portugal, the contracting of millions with the large corporations like EDP and Portugal Telecom, for example, than thousands (pennies) with the small startups. The curious thing is that this happens a little all over the world and, namely, in the world of Smart Cities.
And then, of course, there are exceptions. There are cases in which the large companies, recognizing the difficulty of creating an image of acceptability and socially peaceful, support smaller companies, and also from the side of the cities are created ecosystems of suppliers with solutions of all kinds. The European Union itself has a Stakeholders platform where all the solutions (some innovative, others not so much) are available to decision-makers, to those who manage and the ones who decide.
The last word belongs to who decides!
From here, for a decision, it is necessary to advance to another level: evaluate politics and classify their effects on the city. This process is normally delivered to the free will of those who receive the press releases and puts the label ‘Smart’ in information which is transferred to the general public. And yes, we all know cases of cities labeled ‘Smart’ but that the index and the scientific methods after that do not confirm it.
Therefore, become imperious to move forward with another solution. A true process of identification and classification of smart cities in Portugal. A process based on indexes and studies, internationally recognized, and that leave no room for doubt, that identify and indicate failures and potentials and, above all, that serve as a tool for the territorial development of the country, the cities and the regions.
The Label “Smart Project for Smart Cities” also has this function among its varied objectives and assumptions. About to be publicly displayed by INTELI, the managing body of RENER Living Lab – Network of Smart Cities in Portugal, integrated by 25 national cities and member of the European Network of Living Labs.
Adds up that the INTELI had already applied an intelligence tool called “Smart Cities Index” to 20 of the 25 local governments of RENER network, in order to assess the urban intelligence level of the municipalities and to propose the development of joint projects. The results of the first edition were published in December 2012 and the second edition will be already released this year.
It is also the collaborating entity of the collaborative Smart Cities Portugal platform that aims to “claim Portugal as a supplier of technologies, products and systems with high added value for smart cities, at a global level, as well as a development space, experimentation and test of innovative solutions in real context”. According to internal information, aggregate the principal agents of the value chain of the industry solutions supplier for smart cities as poles of competitiveness and clusters, companies, entrepreneurs, universities and research centers, local governments and public bodies.
Second edition of Smart Cities Index still this year
The label which shortly will be presented has as main objective, “distinguish projects associated with the concept of ‘smart city’, in a logic of promoting the development of the innovative, sustainable, inclusive and connected cities, managed according to the concept of open government and oriented to the improvement of the quality of life of citizens”.
And it has more specific objectives too:
- Give notoriety to urban intelligence projects, reinforcing its national and international visibility;
- Recognize publicly projects based on the development of innovative solutions for the resolution of urban problems;
- Promote the image of the promoters of the projects like cities, companies and/or other economic and social agents on the international market of smart cities;
- Enhance the skills, capabilities and the national technological supply in the international context;
- Promote the formation of partnerships for the development of projects related to the concept of ‘smart city’.
It is destined to the local governments, companies, research centers, non-governmental organizations or consortia of public and private entities and will focus on almost all the current thematic areas, namely:
- Governance: open data, participation and involvement of citizens, e-government, etc.
- Environment: water, waste and green spaces management, environmental monitoring, etc.
- Buildings, infrastructure and urban planning: management of green buildings, green infrastructure, domotics, intelligent materials, etc.
- Energy: renewable energy, production and energy storage, intelligent networks (smart grids), energy efficiency, smart metering, public lighting, etc.
- Mobility: new paradigms of mobility, intelligent transport systems, alternative sources of energy for the mobility, etc.
- Security: security services, video surveillance, emergency management, etc.
- Tourism and culture: cultural information systems, digital tourism, etc.
- Health and education: telemedicine solutions, e-learning, etc.
Are eligible the projects which, cumulatively, meet the following conditions:
- Projects associated with the concept of ‘smart city’, which are intended to respond to 3 urban problems or meet urgent needs of city life, in an innovative way;
- Projects that enhance knowledge, skills and national technologies;
- Projects which deal with the thematic areas identified above;
- Projects developed by the entities described above as recipients;
- Projects completed in the last 3 (three) years or that are running for at least 1 (one) year.
The criteria underlying the attribution of the label “Smart Project for Smart Cities” to a concrete projects are described below, having different weightings in the assessment process:
- Originality and creativity
- Response and an urgent need or urban problem to resolve
- Degree of technological innovation
- Degree of organizational innovation (management, business model, etc.)
- Level of integration of urban solutions
- Degree of interoperability of urban solutions
- Contribution to the environmental sustainability
- Contribution to the attractiveness of cities
- Contribution to the governance of cities
- Contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of citizens
- Extension of the affected/benefited people
- Degree of national and local incorporation
- Viability/degree of success of technical implementation
- Time frame for execution
- Robustness of partnerships associated with the project
- Level of citizens involvement (innovation focused on the user)
- Economic-financial sustainability of the project
- Robustness of the funding sources
- Recovery time from the investment
- Capacity of replication in other cities (demonstration effect)
- Dissemination potential and adoption of solutions for users
- Relevance to the international markets
The attribution of the label allows that the distinguished projects can use it in all their initiatives of communication. For this purpose, has been defined a Standards Guide for the Use of the Label. The label has a validity of 3 years and such period may be extended with a new assessment, namely because of the projects results. The applications for the attribution of the label will be periodically opened.
International Event will discuss the “Cities for the people”
The label will be presented in the next great event organized by INTELI, scheduled for the 24th October, in Vila Nova de Gaia. This international conference, under the title ‘Smart Cities, It’s all about People‘ assumes that in the current communication, it has been given little emphasis on the human dimension of the cities that many consider they should be optimized for an ecosystem of hardware and software. However, INTELI believes (and in this conference will point out that) that there is an opportunity for the growth of innovative markets that economically develop the cities, the regions and the countries. Even assumes that currently there is a “neo-liberal and pro-technology vision” that privileges the investment in “overpriced” infrastructures, both in the current cities and in the new ones and in the emerging localities across the globe.
In the view of the event organization there is a need to arise a social transformation to improve the people conditions and that put emphasis on the citizen, in the collective intelligence that allow more collaboration and democratic action.
In the ‘Smart Cities It’s All About People’ event, will be pointed out paths and possible solutions for the dilemmas of the current society, for the dilemmas of the fashions and whims of the cities around the world, from the large to the small ones. It is imperative the convergence of concepts, indexes and rankings. It is even more urgent because if everything remains as it is, with apparent ideological divisions and uninformed opinions decided to boycott the way that a smart city must be, in its essence, in the light of the century in which we live and, on the present needs of humanity, in this way, the result will not be necessarily a good thing. Neither will let the opportunity to glimpse the good.