#EURegionsWeek 2018 University Session Summary

 Jörg Knieling, HafenCity University Hamburg

  • Ellen Van Bueren, TU Delft
  • Luca Mora, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Oriana Romano, OECD
  • Joachim Schonowski, Deutsche Telekom
  • Joanna Williams, University College London
  • Mark Deakin, Edinburgh Napier University

During the past two decades, smart city development and the approach to urban sustainability and circular economy it promotes have sought favour with universities, industry and governments around the world. This approach is now also championed by civil society organizations, in particular, the United Nations (UN), whose support for smart city development is found written into both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda. In these two policy documents, the 193 Member States of the UN point out their commitment to deploying smart city development as an ICT-driven approach to urban sustainability and clearly suggest harnessing ICT is key to meet the aspiration which society has to: (1) attain circular, safe, inclusive, and accessible urban environments; (2) sustain an economic growth based on the principles of environmental sustainability and inclusive prosperity; and (3) provide equal access for all to public goods and high-quality services.

The workshop made it possible to shed light on some of the main barriers which are limiting European city and regional governments’ capability to embrace the ICT-driven approach to urban sustainability which the UN is drawing attention to. These barriers include:

  • The digital divide and limited ability of older people to use ICT solutions;
  • Lack of communication and collaboration among city and regional governments’ departments and agencies;
  • Lack of open source solutions to deploy within urban environments, which leads cities towards expensive vendor lock-in solutions;
  • Lack of motivation and commitment;
  • Ineffective governance systems, which are unable to: break the silos dividing the departments; and pool the knowledge of the many local and regional stakeholders engaged in sustainability innovations related to smart city development;
  • Limited financial resources and difficulties in attracting investments able to support the development smart city agenda;
  • Missing guidance due to the lack of roadmaps, guidelines and standards able to provide support;
  • Unsupportive legislation;
  • Lack of a clear understanding of what smart city development means for cities or regions, as well as the benefits that such an approach to urban sustainability can produce;
  • Lack of ICT skills within the departments and agencies, who should support the ICT-driven transition.

“Circularity is a huge ambition for cities and regions on their journey towards sustainability. Circular Cities search for new forms of glocalization, which means combining globalisation and locality in innovative ways. ‘Smart city’ could become a team-mate of the circular one, however, it it still to be explored, in how far both correlate or contradict with each other” Prof. Dr. Joerg Knieling, HafenCity University Hamburg

“Enabling smart city development requires cities and regions to align technological development with the contents of a holistic and comprehensive strategic framework able to provide long-term sustainability and drive individuals and organizations towards the same direction” Dr Luca Mora, Edinburgh Napier University

“The next level of smart cities is coming and it will be important to use the design principles avoid, reduce, reuse” Joachim Schonowski, Deutsche Telekom

“Circular provides the goals and principles, and smart help deliver them” Dr Joanna Williams, University College London

“Smart cities currently tend to be related to the triple bottom line profit – people – planet, and the challenge will be to move people at the first place” Prof Mark Deakin, Edinburgh Napier University