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Moving towards Smart Cities: Tackling Urban Challenges Using Technology-Based Solutions

Regional and Local Affairs
Date: Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:30 - 16:30

Venue: Central Brussels

Sustainable development of urban areas is a key challenge. The on-going process of urbanisation is only expected to further increase in the future, raising new environmental and human challenges. Currently, 74% of the European Union’s population lives in cities, as they constitute the main poles of human and economic activity (UN, 2018). The large urban areas are hubs for innovation, education and concentrate 53% of the EU GDP, but remain centres of inequalities and greenhouse gas emissions (Eurostat 2016). However, the development of user-friendly and efficient information and communication technology (ICT) leads the way to the creation of sustainable, resilient and responsive cities.

In 2012, the European Commission introduced the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), a first step to bring together industry leaders, researchers and the civil society. This umbrella project offers sustainable integrated solutions to address new urban challenges. A digital platform, the “marketplace”, was launched to support smart city projects with up to €1 billion of investment by 2020. Following this year’s EIP-SCC General Assembly, a matchmaking place will be created to put promoters in contact with investments’ partners and to further increase the exchange of best practice. Additionally, since 2016, the “Urban Agenda for the EU” has been gathering stakeholders working on improving the quality of life in urban areas. 12 Partnerships were identified to tackle concrete priority themes. Contributors offer policy recommendations and action plans to improve urban mobility, land use and housing. The integrated approach is also supported by the Horizon 2020 funding scheme for competitiveness and growth.

If the democratization of ICT opens new possibilities, achieving sustainability and efficiency requires nonetheless a holistic problem-solving approach. The technology deficit of a part of the population, the questions of privacy and the growing inequalities in urban areas remain impediments to the radical step change that smart cities represent. A conducive policy framework and a cohesive action from relevant actors are necessary to improve urban life and harness the potential of ICT.

This international symposium offers an invaluable opportunity for key stakeholders to assess the development and implementation of smart cities in the EU and to discuss how citizens will benefit from them. The event will discuss the economic impact of recent digital tools and how to take advantage of them to tackle unemployment and improve services. Furthermore, the event will enable delegates to analyse the importance of data collection to bring sustainability in cities.

Delegates will:

  • Discuss the concept of Smart City and its practical implementation in the EU
  • Reflect on the opportunities and challenges posed by the development of ICT
  • Explore the implementation of sustainable technologies for transportation and housing 
  • Determine ways to modernise urban economy via platforms and Big Data
  • Develop understanding on the importance of digital tools in energy consumption
  • Learn how to further include citizens in their city’s decisions making process
  • Analyse existing smart-city projects and share best practice


09:15 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair's Welcome and Opening Remarks

Implementing Smart Cities’ Solutions in the European Union

  • Reviewing the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities and the Urban Agenda’s Partnerships
  • Horizon 2020: Investing in research and innovation for smart solutions 
  • Assessing the Development of the Smart Cities Concept and its Support at the National Level
  • Developing the Integrated Approach: Ensuring stakeholders collaboration for coordinated actions 
10:40 First Round of Discussions
11.10 Morning Coffee Break

Generating Urban Economic Development through Smart Economy

  • Building Resilience: Encouraging multisectoral economy and taking advantage of cities’ uniqueness
  • Fostering Flexibility in the Working Environment: Interconnecting productive networks 
  • Tackling Unemployment: Assessing the rise of on-demand work through digital platforms
  • Making the Best Use of Big Data: Offering tailored services and products while respecting privacy 
12:00 Second Round of Discussions
12.30 Networking Lunch

Improving Energy Efficiency: Using Renewable Energy to Redefine Infrastructures

  • Developing Smart Buildings: Better controlling and managing energy spending 
  • Reducing Congestion and Pollution: Offering sustainable and intelligent multimodal public transport systems
  • Reducing Land Consumption: Avoiding urban sprawl and reducing the use of cars
  • Limiting Waste: Implementing circular solutions to boost sustainable development  
14.00 Third Round of Discussions
14:30 Afternoon Coffee Break

Enhancing Citizen’s Quality of Life: Developing a User-Centric Approach to Strengthen Inclusion

  • Implementing E-Governance: Stimulating bottom-up initiatives, fostering citizen’s engagement and reaching transparency through ICT
  • Tackling the Urban Paradox: Eliminating deprived neighbourhoods and facilitating access to services to reduce inequalities
  • Reinforcing Territorial Cohesion: Promoting inclusive urban planning and social mix
  • Accommodating the Ageing Population: Offering accessible and connected health services 
15.20 Fourth Round of Discussions
15:50 Chair's Summary and Closing Remarks
16.00 Networking Reception and Refreshments
16.30  Symposium Close





All Dates

  • Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:30 - 16:30

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