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Hi-tech To Save The Great Cities

  • July 12th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

laura-barcelona-attribution-twicepix.jpg paris-attribution-dimitry-b.jpg The great cities of Europe are to be given new life under a plan to use advanced technology, to get the clean, green, sustainable and economically viable into the future.

laura-budapest-attribution-weijie.jpg laura-venice-attribution-shapour-bahram.jpgTo achieve this, the European Union says it will be joining industry and local authorities in an innovation partnership.
The EU will pool its own research resources in the fields of energy, transport and Information and communication technology, and concentrating them on a small number of demonstration projects.

Laura Ludwig reports from a European Commission briefing on the plan in Brussels this week – 10.7.12.

€365 million euros, well over half a billion dollars has been put aside, next year alone, for the plan. Its aim is to optimise the use of transport, to reduce the volume of movements; increase energy efficiency; therefore to reduce pollution – and in the end save money.

Traffic congestion alone costs Europe about 1% of Gross Domestic Product every year, signalling that something radical needs to be done.

Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is a strong supporter of innovative projects.

“ Innovation drives Europe’s competiveness and is the best means of addressing energy efficiency. Thanks to this partnership, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, smart metering, real-time energy management, or zero-energy building neighbourhood solutions will spread among more and more European cities,” he said.

This initiative will bring together the three different sectors: energy, transport and technology.

To implement it; it will involve three different Commissioners and their Director Generals within the EU system; all to come up with innovative solutions, and more synergies within their group.

Packaging the funds that have so far been separate is proposed to provide solutions at the cross section; making smart grids and smart energy. Partnerships are planned between the public and private sectors, to help implement the technologies that will be needed, once the testing and pilots are finished, and major work begins.

Siim Kallas, is the EU Transport Commissioner and says the technologies proposed will include;  “Smoke less and silent electric city buses using digital technology, satellite technology to improve traffic flows, a smart phone application to reserve alternative fuel rental vehicles, smart fast charging for electric vehicles. Smart cities combine diverse technologies to increase the efficiency of how they function”.

However the transport head was quick to dismiss questions suggesting the plan could interfere with sorting things out in local politics, or making urban transport policy at a local level.

“The drivers are voters, the pedestrians are voters and especially at local levels these are very sensitive matters and we do not have an intention to interfere with local politics.. What we can do is provide alternatives and provide better choices for citizens,” said Siim Kallas.

Neelie Kroes, a European Commission Vice-President, overseeing the Digital Agenda says the E-U commission is eager to work in partnership with stakeholders and citizens alike.

“ We should do it together and indeed there is a high level group and there is a stakeholder platform. We should take into account that success is only there when the citizen is embracing the technology”, she said.

This vision of the future, of European cities, might still be a while away. Proposals are currently being received for major projects and demonstrations, with formal ongoing consultations among all the partners expected to commence in October.

But in the present economic times, money is expected to be tight for ongoing needs.

Research and innovation, to scale up and rapidly implement deeply innovative techniques, may be a boon to the great cities, but may also have to wait.

Pictures

Barcelona beach – twicepix; Budapest – weijie; Paris – Louvre – Dimitry B; Venice – shapour bahram

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