Smart cities: Are we on the road to the Smart City?

Smart cities: Are we on the road to the Smart City?

Throughout recent times, Europe has experienced a boom of initiatives at the governmental, business and research levels, framed within the concept of smart city.

Smart cities improve the day-to-day lives of their inhabitants, through development and urban planning plans (a scenario in which renewable energies, such as those offered by Energya-VM) play a fundamental role. With the objective of sustainability, they found their main ally in the National Smart Cities Plan promoted by the Government in 2015.

Three years after its launch, the Official College of Telecommunications Engineers (COIT), through its Smart Cities group, has developed a study called «The smart trend of european cities.» This takes stock of the main developments, as well as the objectives to be set for the next stage.

The time has come to rethink objectives

In the words of the coordinator of this report: «When this plan was launched, it was thought only in the cities of more than 20,000 inhabitants, putting ahead the big capitals of the country, which have been the largest budgets have been taken to implement their initiatives. »

Having already spent three years, it is time to rethink the objectives, and this is precisely what the Government has just done. The Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda launched its new plan on December 27, focused this time not on cities, but on smart territories. On the horizon, the year 2020, and a budget of 170 million euros.

In addition to focusing attention on cities and their objects (transport, buildings, environment or connectivity), smart tourism and smart rural territories are also envisioned in this new program. According to the coordinator: «There is a specific part dedicated to rural areas and cities with less than 20,000 inhabitants. It is still necessary to know what aspects the new plan will focus on. But for us, going beyond the big cities is already an important step «.

To this he adds that in the latest calls for smart cities launched by the Ministry, in order to have the opportunity to apply for financial aid, more than 7,700 towns with less than 20,000 inhabitants were left out.

Minor cities need special treatment

It is true that the smart city concept refers to those cities that, because of their overpopulation and their territorial extension, need plans that counteract all the problems that arise. However, even without denying this reality, the COIT experts believe that smaller cities require special treatment. And not precisely because they are pressured by overpopulation, but quite the opposite: because they face an even more delicate scenario: «Continue being attractive so that there is no migration to larger cities and much better equipped to live».

The latest estimates released by the UN and the World Bank suggest that today, more than half of the population, around 3.5 billion people, lives in cities. Percentage that by 2030 will reach 60%.

On the other hand, despite the fact that cities barely occupy 2% of the planet, they represent between 60% and 80% of global energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. That is why this type of plans, aimed at rural areas and small cities, although they can not stop the trend: «they will help make these regions much more attractive».

Various factors that influence the improvement of the quality of life of the population

In relation to the above, recalls the project coordinator that although the smart city concept is closely related to technology and large population volumes, not everything is that: «In the end, there are many factors that come together in the Improvement of the quality of life of the population. A person is the result of a lot of vectors that affect him, such as having a job and not having to emigrate, enjoying public transport, parks, connectivity, technological buildings … The true concept of intelligent city goes through a balance between these sensations and good management of resources «.

To this we must add that: «Many smart city projects do not prosper in the cities due to the volumes of inhabitants on which we have to work and the available budgets».

Although in small towns their administrations are less accustomed to management, these problems are much easier to solve. It also helps the fact of not wanting to open more fronts than possible: «Striving for sustainability, energy efficiency, good transport and connectivity, all at once, is very difficult. In other nuclei, which face fewer problems, it is not necessary to be involved with so many, and the results can be much more satisfactory «.

Large multinationals have to pay taxes

«If there is a hole in taxation like there is currently, the citizen is deprived of public services. That’s why we have to make sure that the big multinationals that make a lot of profit from this collaborative economy have to pay taxes. The digital tax is very important to generate the necessary resources to develop a sustainable city «says the representative of the European Commission.

Smart city is a concept that is intimately linked with Big Data, so it is essential that people know what will happen with their data. These must always be anonymous and will serve to improve the city, so it is important to normalize and influence security to process them correctly.

The Head of Quality and smart cities of the european standardization association states that: «The concept of smart city has to serve to improve cities, that is, the most important thing is to have a large number of data, it has to be done at European level . »

To which it adds that: «the concept of Smart City has to be broader, it is important not to leave aside rural territories.» In Europe there is a great need to get this good service everywhere, and not only to the big cities.