Innovative projects connected to ‘smart citizens’ are in the running for the EUROCITIES awards
Nine projects from seven EUROCITIES members are in the running for the EUROCITIES awards 2013.
The shortlist was drawn up by an independent jury, composed of Freya van den Bossche, Flemish minister for cities, housing, energy and the social economy; Stephen Clark, head of web communications at the European Parliament; Cheryl Miller, executive director of Zen Digital Europe; Belgian political journalist Rob Heirbaut; and Prof. dr. Lieven De Marez from the University of Ghent.
The jury has selected the following projects out of a total of 26 entries from 16 cities in three different categories, all connected to the theme of EUROCITIES 2013 Ghent ‘smart citizens’.
Your Library Your Edinburgh (Edinburgh)
Edinburgh’s library services have gone digital. Responding to the growing demand for seamless 24/7 mobile and online access, ‘Your Library’ is a digital one-stop-shop bringing together the city’s library facilities with local information, services and activities. Aiming to become ‘the Google of Edinburgh’, citizens can use the site to search for anything from an eBook download to a local music group. Developing continually in cooperation with citizens and community groups, and complemented by a mobile app, the site draws in new library users, both electronically and physically, and helps bridge the digital divide by attracting traditional library users online with a growing range of innovative and interactive multimedia tools.
Gain access to the city’s services and resources at the swipe of a card: Gijon’s Citizen Card is an access and payment card that holds the key to a wide range of services across the city. Developed in 2002, the scope of the card has continued to grow and it now provides cardholders with access to anything from electric vehicle sharing and public toilets to libraries and sports facilities. Today, 80% of Gijon’s population holds a Citizen Card. The city has benefited from user data to identify patterns and changes in citizens’ behaviour, allowing it to develop public policies that more closely meet the needs of its citizens. The card continues to be an important factor for Gijon’s quality of life. It makes choosing healthier, greener options easier, such as hiring bicycles and using municipal sports facilities, and offers a ‘social bonus’ giving access to sports facilities to those who otherwise might not be able to.
Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) service (Helsinki)
Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) is about making public data available for citizens to access, use and transform into creative new mobile applications. An initiative of the Helsinki metropolitan area, HRI is a portal for public information from Helsinki and its surrounding municipalities (Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen). It began with a pilot project, which saw information such as statistics, financial data, public transport and service maps go public. From 2013 onwards, the wealth of data available to citizens and developers is expected to include historical maps and aerial photos and health and wellbeing data, to name a few. The availability of such data has prompted citizens to create apps such as ‘Blindsquare’ which helps blind people negotiate their way around the city, and ‘Recycling in Finland’ where users can identify the closest recycling point for a particular product anywhere in Finland.
Launched in 2009, Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) offers tailored support and an environment of collaboration and open innovation for local creative talent. Services offered by e4f, which is partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), include hotdesking, bespoke mentoring support and dedicated coaching from an ‘entrepreneur in residence’. The idea is to help entrepreneurs turn an initial idea into an investment-ready proposition, and recent startups have generated an average of €100,000 as well as creating new jobs. The network is particularly important as young businesses thrive from being part of a network through which they can pool ideas, make new contacts and collaborate on projects. With most startups intending to remain in the local area, e4f has been an important factor in helping Birmingham address the ‘brain drain’ effect.
BEACH – Brighton Employability Advice and Careers Hut (Brighton & Hove)
BEACH is the go-to place for employability advice in Brighton & Hove and the innovative, creative and interactive website appeals to the young audience it’s targeting. That’s because young people have been the driving force behind the service from the outset. The city brought together a group of school students to discuss employability skills, employers’ expectations and barriers to getting a job, and as a result produced a short film. The students then interviewed potential employers around Brighton & Hove to explore employment opportunities and ways to increase their chances of getting a job. All this culminated in a collection of film clips, accessible advice and information available on the BEACH website, which is targeted at students but also used by parents and as a resource for teachers.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship SMART – i.e. SMART (Vienna)
i.e. SMART (id est SMART) encourages young people to create their own smart jobs of the future. Through the programme, teachers (‘TrainSMART trainers’) train citizens aged 14-19 in innovation and entrepreneurial skills around Vienna’s three key economic sectors: creative industries, green economy and digital technology. Students learn how to work together to develop ideas for next generation enterprises which respond to future challenges, and are given training and mentoring through a physical ‘SMART point’ and an online ‘SMART site’. The city hopes to benefit from a snowball effect: an initial group of TrainSMART trainers will train a further 70 trainers who in turn are expected to train 1000 SMART citizens of the future by the end of 2014.
Getting out and about in Edinburgh’s parks and green spaces just got easier. At the end of 2012, the city launched an interactive website and mobile app to help citizens explore and make the most of the city’s green areas. They can use the service to record wildlife sightings, report problems and find out about local events and park information. For the council’s parks department, which hadn’t previously been engaged in new media, the exercise has paid off: it now boasts 16,500 page views, 700 android and iPhone downloads and 1000 Twitter followers. Citizens and community groups were involved from the outset to ensure the service was user-friendly and would achieve its goal of getting more citizens into local parks, promoting the city’s green heritage and protecting its biodiversity.
How’s my driving? LabCityCar lets you know! Available to citizens and companies, for private cars and commercial or public service vehicles, LabCityCar allows drivers to monitor their driving habits, and in some cases fuel consumption and noise levels. The result of collaboration between local technology SMEs, regional public research institutions and the city council, the project aims at making Gijon a less congested, quieter, safer and cleaner city. Citizens and companies are invited to install low-cost sensors in their vehicles, which feed driving data into either a mobile or embedded device. This can then be compared to a variety of online indicators so drivers can modify their habits and find ways to reduce fuel consumption, noise and emissions. It also allows the city to track traffic, noise and pollution hotspots and the data will be made public for use by citizens, academia and companies.
Providing safe & equal opportunities in traffic for children & people with disabilities (Ljubljana)
Ljubljana admits that incorporating citizens’ views hasn’t traditionally been part of its mobility culture. But this is changing. The city now realises that by developing solutions together with schoolchildren, parents, and disabled citizens, it can make travelling around the city easier, safer and more convenient. For schoolchildren, it developed a web portal mapping transport options to different schools and identifying danger hotspots to help plan journeys. Recognising the complex needs of people with different disabilities, the city has developed a range of services to help them travel by public transport independently and with confidence. The move even required a change is legislation, as previously drivers were not obliged to leave their seats to help passengers board. Now, all drivers receive special training and Ljubljana has also introduced a pioneering system allowing citizens with downs syndrome or autism to travel independently, using an information card shown to the driver.