Smart Cities are, by design, municipalities that address challenges via a process of digital transformation (DX); in fact, the mission of Smart Cities can be described as “outcomes-based digital transformation”. This means using new methods of innovation and creativity, and new sources of information to enhance experiences, increase sustainability and resilience, and improve financial and operational performance.
Information Technologies (IT) that use a combination of cloud, mobility, and data analytics have the power to provide new solutions to long-standing urban challenges and enable new experiences for residents and communities, visitors and tourists, and local businesses. (IDC white paper “Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Smart Cities and Smart Communities”, 19 December 2017. Posted in Intelligent / Smart Cities Solutions).
Here we have presented some good practices for the digital transformation of cities in Bulgaria, based on smart city technologies.
Sofia Smart City
Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia City
The city of Sofia participated in the initiative Digital Cities Challenge of the European Commission. The result was the elaboration of the Digital transformation strategy for Sofia (DTSS): A platform for smart growth. DTSS defined an action plan and a series of actions that strengthen the ICT business ecosystem located in Sofia, enabling the development of innovative solutions for the digital transformation of the city.
As for further implementation of the action plan the city signed a technical support agreement with the European Investment Bank for its realisation through concrete investment projects. There are some cases (projects), based on smart city technologies that have been identified for immediate implementation by the Smart City Roadmap. (Source: The digital transformation strategy for Sofia: A platform for smart growth; Digital Cities Challenge Initiative)
Sofia Smart City Marketplace
The Sofia Smart City Marketplace is an initiative of Cluster Sofia Knowledge City to develop a platform for publishing, storing and open access to a database of validated or ready-to-validate product and technological innovations that can be used in the process of transforming the city into a smart city.
It is designed for those local government officials responsible for the development of the smart city by providing them with a simplified process for finding information on the latest products, applications, technologies and technological solutions with which the municipal structures can cope more successfully. The platform is beta version https://smartcitymarketplace.eu/.
Planning a Black Sea Smart City of Burgas
The agenda of the smart city of Burgas supports the city's smart city planning and development. The city is now keen to create a structure to its ambitions and is developing a Smart City Roadmap that refines its strategic intent and prioritises future investment intentions accordingly.
The smart city of Burgas integrates technology with infrastructure to enable urban development that is more intelligent, interconnected, and efficient. Because of its manageable size and other endowments, Burgas is the perfect “urban laboratory” in which to test smart applications in a relatively controlled environment. The municipality’s commitment to a considered programme of further interventions that will form the mosaic of its proposed Smart City Roadmap will only make it smarter. There are some examples from a smart city planning agenda:
The Smart Cities Information System (SCIS) of the city of Varna
The Smart Cities Information System is a knowledge platform to exchange data, experience and know-how and to collaborate on the creation of smart cities, providing a high quality of life for its citizens in a clean, energy efficient and climate friendly urban environment.
SCIS brings together project developers, cities, research institutions, industry, experts and citizens from across Europe. SCIS focuses on people and their stories – bringing to life best practices and lessons learned from smart projects. Through storytelling, SCIS portrays the “human element” of changing cities. It restores qualitative depth to inspire replication and, of course, to spread the knowledge of smart ideas and technologies - not only to a scientific community, but also to the broad public!
Launched with support from the European Commission, SCIS encompasses data, experience and stories collected from completed, ongoing and future projects.
Focusing on energy, mobility & transport and ICT, SCIS thus showcases solutions in the fields of energy-efficiency in buildings, energy system integration, sustainable energy solutions on district level, smart cities and communities and strategic sustainable urban planning. Projects in the scope of SCIS are mostly co-funded by the European Commission, for example: the 12 Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities (SCC1) projects (such as Triangulum, Sharing Cities or Stardust), the 7th Framework Programme projects CELSIUS and City-zen, and many more!
SCIS therefore analyses project results and experiences to:
This material is prepared for the needs of Output 1 of the SMART project and is based on the market study conducted by the Cluster Sofia Knowledge City in 2019, supported by some of the members of the SMART project team at that time.
By smart city technologies are meant those technologies that refer to the concept of a smart city, most often these are digital and/or data-based technologies that are applicable in the real conditions of the city and contribute to the city's coping with public problems or challenges. In smart cities, these technologies are used to develop "critical infrastructure" in the following areas: transport, water and waste management, construction, energy, security, education, health, and urban management.
The following areas of application of these technologies are presented below. All of them are known cumulatively in most of the smart cities around the world, which are at different stages in the process of transformation. This list does not represent all areas of application at all and is only an introduction for a better understanding of the way and reasons for the penetration of these technologies.
Smart Water & Waste Management
Smart City Management
The SMART project is aimed at developing new competencies of the SMEs managers to manage deep-tech businesses in one very fast-growing market - the smart cities. The penetration of so-called smart city technologies results in the creation of new markets and requirements for new skills. On the basis for the achievement of this purpose is laid the map of digital smart disruptions.
This short article explains some important terms and the approach implemented in this project.
What is a map of digital and smart disruptions (in the context of smart cities)?
The picture is worth a thousand words - Fred R. Barnard.
The map of digital and smart disruptions provides an easy for understanding and learning overview and analysis of how digital and disruptive technologies (innovations) do shape the smart city concept. The map includes the results generated by the focus group and corrected later by the partners with the results from the research on the technologies advances, level of change and impact, performance, purpose, and fit.
The map is a two-dimensional cross factorial analysis matrix made with different instruments in diverse forms (Fig.1).
Fig.1. Mapping the disruptive smart city technologies (the filled areas are only exemplary)
The ultimate purpose of a map is to improve the scenario planning of businesses and the cities in the process of their transformation into smart cities and to point out the opportunities for involvement of the businesses in the process. So, this can be treated as a sample of an opportunity map for every city in the process of urban management and for every company in the process of innovation management.
In the case of the project SMART, the map will present the results of the studies and research of the project partners in a systematic and simplified way, based on:
What is a disruptive smart city technology?
The definition of the disruptive innovation given by Clayton Christensen is the innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. The following benefits and changes coming from the disruptive innovations are identified:
Following this definition, it is easy to presume that in general the “disruptive smart city technology” is any kind of emerging, advanced & digital (but not only) technology that can generate disruptive innovations creating benefits and many changes in the context of an urban (territorial) area and if this process is well managed it should result in a better life of the citizen.
What does the process of mapping the smart city disruption mean?
The mapping is a structured process, focused on a topic or construct of interest, involving input from many participants, that produces an interpretable pictorial view (concept map) of their ideas and concepts and how these are interrelated. The mapping helps partners to think more effectively as a group without losing their individuality. It helps the project group to manage the complexity of the vision on the smart city disruptive technologies without trivializing them or losing detail.
The mapping process is one of the portfolios of many other similar methods that management and social scientists have developed like brainstorming, brainwriting, nominal group techniques, focus groups, affinity mapping, Delphi techniques, facet theory, and qualitative text analysis. The mapping process is focused on the major shifts from the business perspective and how these changes will affect the growth.
It uses focus groups to understand and analyse the impact of smart city technologies and their application for business growth. The trends, types of technology, and levels of transformation are included in studying within the process. Consequently, the project partners have to study a framework of the following five dimensions of these technologies:
The study includes the level of impact and change of the emerging technologies - so, what does exist now and what is the current maturity level (according to Gartner).
What stages does the process of mapping include in a focus group?
The process is placed in a focus group that is facilitated by the leader of the mapping process. A mapping process in a such group involves five steps that can take place in a period of time, planned for the output and depending on the project development situation.
This article is animated by the interim results of an ongoing Erasmus+ project named Smart technologies by design (Smart by Design).
The project is being carried out by the following partners:
Technologies make cities smarter
Disruptive technologies have the potential to transform the way cities currently operate and they are at the core of nearly all upcoming smart city’s solutions. After a decade of experimentation, smart cities are entering a new phase. Although digital solutions are only one of the tools needed to make a city great, they are the most powerful and cost-effective additions seen in many years.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, digital solutions could improve some quality-of-life indicators by as much as 30 percent. Real-time crime mapping, for instance, utilizes statistical analysis to highlight patterns, while predictive policing goes a step further, anticipating crime to head off incidents before they occur. Another example of these solutions is the Internet of Things sensors on existing infrastructure systems which can help crews fix problems before they turn into breakdowns and delays.
If we examine our history, we realize that we live in constant change. Humans have faced all sorts of changes, economic, political, climatic, technological. In the different industrial revolutions seized, adaptations made by humans can be perceived, along the 1st industrial revolution, railway arrived with the steam engines which enabled transportation of goods causing all the farming, demographic and transport revolution.
Afterwards, the 2nd industrial revolution arrived, emerging new energy sources like oil and electricity, which with its utilization, first technological innovations took place. These technological innovations produced an improvement in the quality of life of people, first personal computers and internet appeared which located us before a 3rd industrial revolution, not only in a technological one but in a scientific and a cultural one.
With this 3rd revolution, fast technological advances force humans to assimilate more concepts in shorter time, information, productivity and everything reaches scales not previously reached and under this context the 4th industrial revolution appeared, where we really perceived and realized that we live in a constant change, as mentioned at the beginning, achieving small or big progresses which are changing the world.
A vision for cities of the future
The city of the future must meet the needs of its residents. Yet in surveying residents of 25 major cities, McKinsey finds that a fifth of those cities falls short of delivering satisfaction. Respondents cited numerous inadequacies: crime, congestion, fire emergency response, waste management, active mobility options, police security, lack of basic utilities, public transit, as well as poor quality of housing and government services. Given the fierce competition for talent across cities, dissatisfied urbanites are likely to vote with their feet and leave for more attractive environments. (Source: Thriving amid turbulence: Imagining the cities of the future; Capital Projects & Infrastructure, Public Sector October 2018, McKinsey & Company).
In order to not lag behind due to inactivity, the city leaders must know how to use the newest and most advanced technologies, which is progressing faster than expected.
We have realized during the implementation of the project and as a result of the study that the most important and those with enough predictive potential to transform the cities into smart cities are the following technologies (technology areas):
Smart by Design