Smarter cities mean better quality of life
An EU-funded project is developing user-centric, smart solutions that will help Europe's expanding urban areas boost their citizens' quality of life and improve the environment as they grow.
© nirutft #218955466, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Across the globe, urban areas are expanding rapidly by 2035, the world will house nearly 50 megacities with a population of more than 10 million inhabitants. While only two of these Paris and London are in Europe, many of the continents urban zones are growing. As they do, so too do concerns for quality of life and the environment.
With the goal of addressing some of the biggest quality-of-life issues in urban areas, including air pollution, transport congestion and noise pollution, an EU-funded project is working on bringing smart solutions to cities, while involving urban residents closely in the decision-making process.
By reducing energy consumption, increasing the production of local renewable energies and developing data-based solutions, we hope to contribute to better cities, says Etienne Vignali, project manager at Lyon-Confluence and SMARTER TOGETHER project coordinator.
Building user-centric solutions
The project will implement its innovative smart concepts in lighthouse cities Munich, Lyon and Vienna with Venice, Sofia and Santiago de Compostela set to recreate some of the ideas. Meanwhile, Kiev in Ukraine and Yokohama in Japan will increase the outreach of the project and bring perspectives from Eastern Europe and Asia.
Project members are working on five main areas: getting people involved, renewable energy in urban zones, cutting the amount of energy used in buildings, electric mobility and urban data platforms.
To draw in citizens, the project is creating urban laboratories for local people, businesses, project researchers and authorities. These laboratories, which involve face-to-face meetings and digital networks, allow participants to suggest ideas, highlight potential problems and even create urban services themselves. The project also gives people guided tours of how new smart solutions work, followed by debates over coffee.
Boosting renewables and energy efficiency
SMARTER TOGETHER is developing urban renewable energy solutions mainly district heating systems, photovoltaic installations on buildings, geothermal energy units and energy storage. For example, a geothermal plant with a capacity of 13 MW has been installed in Neuaubing-Westreuz, a district in the west of Munich. In total, the team hope to install 23 MW of renewable heating and power capacity in Munich, Lyon and Vienna.
Researchers are carrying out work to cut energy consumption in existing buildings through measures including insulating facades, replacing windows and renewing ventilation and heating systems. In total across the three cities, 144 000 m2 of buildings will be refurbished, helping to cut their energy consumption by 50-60 %.
With mobility a pressing problem in many cities, the project is creating electric transport technologies and integrated systems. In Lyon, researchers developed an autonomous driverless electric shuttle called Navly that allows people to travel through the Lyon-Confluence region. They have also installed electric vehicle charging stations and commissioned a new electric car-sharing system.
Lyon, Munich and Vienna are also developing urban data collection and analysis, through their city data platforms, to monitor and assess actual energy performance of the concepts developed within SMARTER TOGETHER.
By the end of the project, the team hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 100 tonnes each year, as well as attract EUR 130 million worth of investments in the three lighthouse cities, creating more than 1 400 jobs.