Smart Cities Member States Initiative
In view of the ongoing discussions about climate change and the worldwide trend of urbanisation, cities and urban regions are moving into the focus of attention of policy, industry and research. The European targets for achieving a low carbon economy ("2020 targets" and "European Energy Roadmap 2050") are enormous challenges for our society in the field of energy which can only be tackled through clear strategies. The concept of Smart Cities can provide solutions on both a technological and process level for shaping the future of European Cities in a sustainable way based on two key elements: highly increased energy efficiency and maximum integration of renewable energy sources into existing systems.
Current questions for research and implementation in the context of Smart Cities focus on the following thematic areas:
- integrated urban energy planning & intelligent energy management on regional & city level
- merge of ICT and energy as well as transport technologies
- smart urban energy networks (thermal + electric, complemented by gas grids)
- energy-efficient interactive buildings
- renewable energy supply for urban areas and
- sustainable mobility
The role of the European Member States within the SET-Plan´s EII "Smart Cities and Com-munities" (launched by the EC in June 2011) as well as within the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (launched by the EC in July 2012) is still not clear enough due to the complexity of future city projects within the current technological and economic framework conditions. The current strategic position of the EC, as can be seen in the Smart Cities related calls in FP7, seems to focus exclusively on the creation of large lighthouse projects and the rollout and market entry of technologies, even though additional R&D activities are still needed to create the necessary tools and technologies to enable a proper establishment of such lighthouse projects. On the other hand - and often beyond the energy focused activities of the SET-Plan - a wide range of urban related R&D has been established in Europe, including:
- a remarkable number of high-quality national funding programmes (as shown in the SC MSI screening activities)
- the JPI Urban Europe
- the EERA JP Smart Cities
- as well as initiatives by DG REGIO based on the structural funds
Unfortunately, up till now, there is little or none cooperation between those initiatives.
Goals of Smart Cities Member States Initiative
The above mentioned weaknesses have been identified by the members of the MSI during a number of workshops and meetings, starting in December 2011. Taking into account the outcomes of earlier MSI activities (European-wide programme and project screening, expert workshops on smart city R&D topics) the current goals of the Smart Cities MSI are as follows:
Support European cities in moving forward by creating a roadmap with real impact
The roadmap will take into account technical, structural and financial aspects for the reali-sation of Smart Cities. One aspect which will be dealt with is the coordination of urban re-lated R&D in Europe. There is already a variety of policy initiatives and funding schemes in place regarding the urban theme and a coordinated approach among EC and MS funds could open up new potentials of innovation for cities. Another question that will be tackled within the MSI roadmap is the activation of "emerging cities", which are still at the begin-ning of their development towards a Smart City, but therefore provide the biggest potential for improvement. The establishment of a target-oriented knowledge exchange and capaci-ty building amongst cities with different levels of "maturity" ("flagship cities" vs. "emerging cities") will be crucial for a Europe--wide implementation of the Smart Cities concept. The roadmap will gather all the expertise from the MSI´s national delegates and experts and shall be composed in collaboration with the European Commission. Its objective is to elaborate concrete recommendations for action for the short-, mid- and long term perspec-tive.
Support the development of integrative methods and tools for the large Smart Cities demonstration projects attempted by the EC
In complementarity to the EC´s Smart cities calls in FP7 and H2020 (focusing on pilot and demonstration), the MSI´s immediate goal is to jointly support the development of integrative methods and tools.
First programme alignment and joint call activities: "Creating a common basis for future development"
Based on the discussions in the MSI´s expert's workshops, the following topics have been identified as crucial research questions:
- Development of integrated modelling/simulation framework (decision support tools and tools for city-wide simulation of energy flows), as well as
- Integrated urban energy monitoring concepts
- Development of business models for municipal services
The research questions shall be tackled by transnational project consortia. The projects will be funded within appropriate national funding programmes. Therefore, national calls for proposal will be aligned. The first call of the Smart Cities Member State Initiative will be launched within the framework of the ERA-NET Smart Cities and Communities, which has been applied for in cooperation with the JPI Urban Europe.
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