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REMOURBAN study tour in Nottingham: making history for European smart cities

Miguel Ángel García Fuentes, CARTIF Technology Centre, Cristina de Torre, CARTIF Technology Centre & Raffaella Moreschi,
26 April 2017
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The REMOURBAN project, in cooperation with the Action Cluster on Integrated Planning from the European Innovation Partnership on SCC and the Smart Cities Information System organised its first Study Tour in the lighthouse city of Nottingham in March 2017, hosted by the Nottingham Trent University.

The day featured a series of workshops on topics such as smart city indicators, innovative business models and integrated planning for accelerating urban transition. Attendees from the European Commission, The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) and other Smart City lighthouse projects were able to capture the realities of REMOURBAN’s green endeavours in Nottingham’s Sneinton district and electric bus charging infrastructure at Queens Drive Park and Ride during the site visit.

This event marks the ever-closer collaboration among Lighthouse projects, which started in 2016 and currently involves 9 EU-funded projects representing more than 50 EU cities working to improving their ecosystems. The Study Tour hosted the ceremony of the signature of the Lighthouse Projects Cooperation Manifesto, a formal collaboration agreement among the Lighthouse Projects.

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Accelerating urban transition through integrated planning

The topic of the first workshop was “Accelerating urban transition through integrated planning”. Miguel Á. Garcia-Fuentes, Project Coordinator of REMOURBAN, introduced the main work being carried out by REMOURBAN in this field, with focus on how the key phases (city auditing, action design, implementation and assessment) which require innovations in the management, evaluation and replication procedures needed to overcome the barriers that block the advancement in the smart transformation of cities.

This work is linked to the activities carried out by the EIP on Smart Cities and Communities, where the Action Cluster is working on delivering a Smart City Guidance Package aimed at supporting replication. This work was presented by James KALLAOS, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. James introduced the work done so far regarding the Smart City Guidance Package (cities and projects already contacted, workshops and webinars organized, etc.) focusing on the main contents of this toolbox and showing examples of strategy development, as the case of La Spezia. Different stakeholders/actors take part along the different implementation phases of these plans and important obstacles (financial, legal/regulatory, technical, administrative and social) still appear.

Next to these presentations, the attendees were divided into four groups to discuss on four relevant topics and obtain useful conclusions for the development of this Urban Regeneration Model. These were the topics and moderators of these parallel sessions held within this first workshop.

  • Phases and obstacles of the Smart Urban Transformation
  • Evaluation supporting the urban transition
  • Replication and upscaling: transferability of smart solutions
  • Urban Governance and Participation
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Smart City indicators: best practices, challenges and solutions

The second workshop of the day was organised by the The Smart Cities Information System  (SCIS) and chaired by Jorge Núñez from the Centre for European Policy Studies. He presented the SCIS, which manages and analyses the data from all DG ENER-managed projects (CONCERTO programme, Smart Cities and Communities projects and Energy Efficient Buildings PPP, also those from EASME) looking for the following goals:

  • Repository of all projects;
  • Distil from the projects transferrable knowledge on technologies and their integration into Smart City solutions;
  • Establish best practices which will enable project developers and cities to learn and replicate;
  • Identify barriers and point out lessons learnt;
  • Provide recommendations to policy makers on support and policy actions needed to address market gaps;
  • Foster replication.

Jorge showed how the information can be found within the SCIS website – by project, by technology topic (energy, mobility, ICT), by lessons learned (financial & economic, regulatory & administrative, social). Further, it can be filtered through project type and various filters, depending on the concrete interest of the user. In addition, there is a library featuring useful resources, project documentation and tools, webinars, etc. and a newsroom section with news, events and a blog publishing guest blog posts by a variety of smart cities stakeholders, to which he invited us all to contribute to.

But just producing data does not tell the whole story of a project. For this reason, there is a need to create a framework for reflecting the real experience that is being gained. Jorge presented examples of learned lessons gathered from projects and explained these lessons are the basis for creating policy recommendations for the European Commisison. 

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Ensuring replication of Smart City solutions through innovative business models

The third Workshop focused on the topic “Ensuring replication of Smart City solutions through innovative business models” and was chaired by Alessandra CASSISI from Officinae VERDI, expert on innovative business models within REMOURBAN.

In order to enhance replicability of smart city solutions for speeding up the transformations of European cities, Alessandra presented five main pillars:

1. Construction of a proper Business models and EU Market for Innovation;

2. Use of the most appropriate Financial Scheme;

3. Improvement of Municipalities Organization;

4. Looking at Tools and Instruments;

5. Aggregation Strategy towards a Structured City Business Model.

She highlighted that it is necessary to develop new integrated business models with innovative local partnerships and adapted procurement with the aim of creating a European market for innovation that opens up investments. By sharing solutions, more cities can apply similar approaches, and benefit from common designs and innovations.

Then, the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group and the De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform were presented.

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Nottingham: a smart, green and sustainable city

Alison STACEY representing the Nottingham City Council showed the key elements of Nottingham’s Smart City strategy. Nottingham City Council has carried out a great number of initiatives and projects which have made the city one of the most energy efficient cities in the United Kingdom.

These are some of the achievements so far in Nottingham City:

  • Beat CO2 target 4 years early – 33% reduction (05- 14) – highest reduction of core cities;
  • Lowest emissions per person of core cities;
  • 15% of city’s energy from low carbon sources (2014);
  • Fuel poverty decreased from 18% in 2012/13 to 14% in 2013/14;
  • Land fill decreasing, last year only 6.4%;
  • Recycling increasing, currently 33%

A site visit enabled delegates from the European Commission, INEA and other Lighthouse projects to discover the realities of REMOURBAN’s green endeavours in Nottingham’s Sneinton district and e-bus charging depot.

For more information, you can find the report from the Nottingham Study tour here.