The completion of the first phase of the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC), provides the perfect opportunity to look back at the achievements that were made. Through the Intelligent Cities Challenge, a wide network of 136 cities was established. Additionally, ICC allowed 80 core cities across Europe to seek and receive policy advice and support in their journey towards a green and digital transition. This support ultimately ensured higher quality of life for citizens and more sustainable businesses. To achieve this transformation, cities developed ambitious visions, targeted strategies with action plans and went on to implement concrete solutions.
During phase 1, €1.9 billion was earmarked for ICC cities’ actions and €247 million in public funding from EU, national and regional sources was leveraged which helped facilitate:
- 42 cities to be on their way to launch a Local Green Deal
- 35 cities to sign the Pact for Skills and other skill initiatives
- 23 cities to be selected for the Cities Missions
- 336 actions to be planned by the 136 Core cities
Furthermore, phase 1 of the Intelligent Cities Challenges successfully set up a meaningful EU-level ecosystem that delivered concrete collaborations:
- 682 private actors of the ecosystems engaged in the cities’ solutions
- 56% of all ICC solutions engaged private parties (SMEs, large companies, start-ups)
- 55% of the ICC solutions substantially benefitted from other cities contributions
- 233 collaborations with other cities within and outside the ICC network
- 562 local and international events showcasing cities’ engagement in ICC
- 91% of the participating cities actively reached out towards citizens on ICC actions
One of the key aspects in several cities’ transformation is their ambition to focus on the green transition of businesses. In this sense, cities are striving to manage their resources in a responsible and efficient manner with respect and care for their surroundings. A second point of focus is the digital transformation that is needed for cities to be able to tackle urban challenges in new and creative ways. Furthermore, cities’ initiatives focused on innovation as well as the development of more sustainable industry.
Green Economy and Local Green Deals
In an effort to contribute to a green economy, cities tried to achieve productivity gains for business and to secure green sustainable growth. In this regard, 42 cities are currently on their way to launch a Local Green Deal while 23 ICC cities are part of the 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission. Other initiatives that have been taken as part of the ICC, under the LGDs scope and that contribute to a more sustainable transformation are: the monitoring of energy consumption in buildings as well as environmental footprints and air quality, investments in green infrastructure, investment for green energy transition, smart utility management and, communication and awareness raising and engaging local businesses.
Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration
Cities that focused on citizen participation and the digitalisation of public administration developed infrastructures and services to create growth opportunities for local businesses and start-ups. Within the Intelligent Cities Challenge, 115 solutions were developed in this area. The importance of this particular transformation became even more apparent by the 22 digital initiatives that were created by ICC cities in response to the pandemic. Cities were able to develop:
- Digital-based solutions for improving local services
- Open data platforms
- Digital infrastructures
- Digital-based solutions for security
- Digital-based solutions for improving accessibility and inclusion
- Digital-based solutions for administrations.
Upskilling and Reskilling
Upskilling and reskilling are realised through innovative education and training. 35 cities signed the Pact for Skills and other alike skills initiatives. As part of the ICC framework, 26 solutions were created in this domain from the promotion of upskilling and reskilling programmes to the creation of online or offline centres for upskilling.
Green and Digital transition in tourism
Additionally, 29 solutions were designed to create growth opportunities through smart and sustainable practices to support the green and digital transition in tourism. For example, the development of digital tourism infrastructures and the development of alternative tourism models.
Supply chains, logistics and the economics of mobility
Finally, 46 solutions regarding supply chains, logistics and the economics of mobility were created as part of the ICC thus far. They are meaningful as they tackle the drivers of cities’ competitiveness, economic growth and job creation. These solutions included but were not limited to smart and green mobility and, the development of a multimodal mobility platform.
Support for cities was provided through several transversal services which saw the following achievements.
Tech4Good: The Tech4Good Marketplace was successfully launched and saw continuous expansion of solutions and products. Currently there are 56 cities, 86 solutions, 48 products and 24 countries represented which was complemented by several workshops dedicated to Tech4Good over the duration of the first phase of ICC.
Open data transversal: A total of 5 city lab sessions with experts and city speakers were delivered alongside support from thematic experts focused on advising cities on open data and data platforms. An online course was also launched to support ICC cities working on open data.
Access to funding transversal: Through 2 city lab sessions and 12 geographical chapter meetings, relevant and localised information on access to funding was shared. This was further supported through thematic experts with a focus on advising cities on how to access funding.
Procurement transversal: Procurement advice was given across 5 city lab sessions which heard from dedicated experts and city speakers. Thematic ICC experts specialised in innovative procurement also supported cities here.
These inspiring achievements, realised by cities across Europe, serve as a glimpse of the meaningful and sustainable transition that the participating cities are leading.