A green city is a smarter city
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Europe 2020 will foster some of the smartest and most sustainable cities in the world. The sustainable growth of urban areas will be possible greatly due to smart urban technologies which will strengthen the continent from its financial crisis.
The ever-increasing population in cities, combined with the current economic crisis, requires European cities to be more efficient in terms of infrastructures and services to ensure an improved quality of life. In July of 2012, the European Commission launched the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership, with the aim to converge progress in energy, transport and ICT, and build towards a low carbon and resource efficient economy.
Each year, a city is appointed as European Green Capital by the European Commission. Nantes’ urban policies won over the jury this year, and reigns as European Green Capital 2013. Its victory was greatly due to its ambitious climate plan which aims to halve CO2 emissions by 2025, as well as its mobility and its sound water policy and management of natural areas.
According to the climate strategist Boyd Cohen, in his ranking of top 10 smartest European cities, Copenhagen is the hardest working to become the most advanced urban landscape followed by Stockholm. It comes as no surprise that the latter has recently decided upon modernizing its image in an attempt to reinforce itself as a role model city for civic management.
Both Scandinavian cities ranked highly in Smart Environment, where Copenhagen boasts world-class green credentials. Denmark’s capital aspires to become the first carbon-neutral capital. There’s no doubt its 20,000 cyclists contribute enormously to reach such a bold target. The Copenhagen Wheel Project is a good example of smart mobility. The wheel is equipped with sensors which allows cyclists to use their smartphones and share information about the levels of air pollution, traffic or noise as well as allowing the cyclists to control their bikes, lock them and measure their physical effort.
However, it takes more than bikes to be the smartest city in Europe. As well as creating more bicycle lanes, Copenhagen intends on replacing coal with biomass, adding more wind and solar electricity to the grid and cooling buildings with seawater.
In turn, Stockholm’s upgraded image reflects a city which also aims high in terms of environmental issues and intends on becoming fossil-fuel free by 2050. One of its most notable measures was the road charging system, introduced back in 2007. This consists of cameras, sensors and laser beams which identifies cars that pass different check-points during peak times of the day and therefore enables the city to charge a tax on these vehicles.
80% of the population is expected to live in urban areas by 2030. As these urban habitats grow, cities have to be built to improve their service delivery capabilities by making their transport, public safety, government services, education and health “smarter”.