GrowSmarter aims to accelerate growth of smart cities in Europe

Fri, 2015-02-13 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

A new five-year effort hopes to speed the smart cities transformation in Europe by showing cities how it’s done. The new GrowSmarter initiative will focus on transforming three cities, making key improvements that will hopefully ripple across the continent.

The €25 million project begins with three so-called lighthouse cities: Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona. Council Associate Partner Urban Integrated is involved in the effort. It is a strategic partner of Cologne and helped the city win the grant.

A smart cities showcase
The GrowSmarter Initiative is designed to uncover best practices and to serve as a blueprint for other cities. The three lighthouse cities will begin implementing 12 different smart cities solutions that are designed to have the biggest impact.

Work in those cities will also be done in a scientific manner. The technologies will be rolled out in a cross-section of areas, including downtown districts, suburban and industrial areas, to provide a representative sample of each.

Five follower cities will try to replicate their success. These additional cities will work closely with the initial three to embrace the lessons learned so they can be successful in their own communities. These cities are Cork, Ireland; Graz, Austria; Porto, Portugal; Suceava, Romania; and Malta.

Twelve areas of focus
The initiative emphasizes 12 concepts and technologies divided into three categories. Those categories are:

  • Low-energy districts, which covers smart lighting and energy use, and local energy production
  • Integrated infrastructures, which covers concepts like turning waste into energy and using big data to improve efficiency
  • Sustainable urban mobility, which covers alternative fuels, smart traffic management and sustainable delivery

Cities will partner with private organizations to deliver in those areas, which span from advanced information and communication technology to urban mobility and renewable energy. The goal is to integrate the technologies directly into the city’s supply chain.

Dramatic positive impact expected
Backers of the initiative believe it can cut energy use in the participating communities by as much as 60% and cut European Union transport emissions by a similar amount. It’s also expected to provide a economic boost, creating 1,500 jobs across Europe.

GrowSmarter is funded under the overall Europe 2020 initiative, which is designed to support innovation and job creation, improve education and help the aging population live longer, productive lives.

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