This article documents how four European capitals have taken stock on how their city need to become smarter and serve better in the post-Covid period
COVID-19 stimulates adoption of smart cities: 4 European capitals already redefining ‘new’ future of urban living
The tech ecosystem in Europe is flourishing making it a role model for the rest of the world. European cities have better public transit, a stronger focus on low CO2 emissions and sustainability, a larger population interested in walking and cycling, and much more that lead to both smarter and sustainable cities.
A smart city uses more efficient networks and services with the deployment of telecommunication and digital technologies. It benefits both the residents and businesses equally. Moving beyond the use of information and communication technologies for less emissions and improved use of resources, a smart city involves other aspects such as upgraded water supply, smarter urban transport networks, more efficient ways to heat and light buildings, etc. Basically, it means a more responsive and more interactive city administration and a more convenient and safer place of living.
In Europe, smart cities and communities are backed by the European Commission and brings together small businesses, industries, cities, etc. towards the same. It aims to improve urban life with more integrated and sustainable solutions and addresses different challenges such as mobility, energy, and transport among others.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, technologies such as drones, real-time dashboards, new types of surveillance, etc. have emerged. These are being used by cities in Europe as the world moves towards a digital-only lifestyle. Besides this, there’s an increase in the adoption of e-health and e-government services and trends such as online education and remote work. This has, in turn, resulted in a huge drop in traffic and pollution. Further, COVID-19 has left remarkable changes in manufacturing as it accelerates digital transformation strategies.
Some other aspects where in Europe leads the world is the automated toll payments, smart mobility, etc. Having detailed on the smart cities aka innovative cities in Europe, here we have handpicked four cities that are all set to redefine ‘new’ future of urban living in the post-corona world.
One thing we need to highlight is that cities and countries need to be bold and innovative to continue the smart city trend. And, should not roll back to the old lifestyle once the pandemic is over.
Copenhagen is well-known as a green city across the world and received many accolades for the same, so it shouldn’t take much time for the city for an urban recovery post-COVID lockdown.
The Danish capital led the Siemens Green City Index for Europe. Notably, the city has one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the world and has the most ambitious plan to minimise carbon emissions. Copenhagen aspires to attain carbon neutrality by 2025 and it plans to achieve the same by implementing green building standards and using energy-efficient and renewable resources.
Copenhagen emerges as a leader in the smart mobility industry as the city has new environment-centric strategies such as smart city projects, test-beds and more. There are startups that are specialised in rendering innovative mobility solutions. To be specific, the Danish capital has a giant car park battery to charge up the parked electric cars or draw energy from the same to optimise the local electricity grid. There are new apps that ensure a smart urban life for residents. And, the city has supermarkets that are sustainable as these use scanning tech to sort packaging and reward customers for recycling, thereby motivating them to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Amsterdam, the Dutch capital has the highest cycling rate which is great for the post-lockdown future. It is touted to be the only city in the world to have more number of bikes and cycles than the number of people. On average, nearly 10,000 bikes are said to be parked in the city. Apart from bikes, Amsterdam is also known for other aspects that have stepped up its pace as a smart city. The public private partnership, Amsterdam Smart City is focused on using the city as an urban laboratory for the use of new mobility solutions, open data, and ultimately improved quality of life of residents. It includes smart parking solutions, development of home energy storage and much more.
Apart from mobility solutions, Amsterdam has a higher number of bridges than other cities in the world. The MX3D bridge in the city is the world’s first 3D printed steel bridge built in collaboration with Arup, designed by Joris Larrman Lab, and supported by Autodesk among other partners. The Dutch company uses industrial six-axis robots, welding machines, and proprietary software for the same. When it comes to notable startups that help Amsterdam achieve the status of a smart city, we need to mention Viriciti, AppSpots, Parkius and more.
Brussels has enabled more proactive vehicle maintenance, the ability to cater for passengers with disabilities, greater transparency in the use of public funds, and minimised environmental impact. Brussels-based EIT ICT Labs is one of the first Knowledge and Innovation Communities set up by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology to achieve this feat.
While Brussels has been on par with smart public transport, post-COVID outbreak, the city is also set to lead in the smart city infrastructure as it is already experimenting with these technologies and with on-demand transit solutions such as affordable electric vehicles, charging points, and rapid contactless deliveries via ground-based robots. Even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, Brussels will have new kinds of building materials, agile construction, and new approaches to accommodation.
The Municipality of The Hague also known as the ‘political’ capital of the Netherlands is exploring lighting options in many areas including Scheveningen, a popular tourist destination. In addition to aesthetically pleasing street lights, it also improves energy performance and controlled remotely. In an attempt to address this challenge, DE NOOD, a leading classic streetlight design provider in the Netherlands teamed up with Tvilight, an intelligence lighting company. These companies have installed lighting that value the look and feel of the area and use cutting-edge smart city data management. One such notable startup is OCTO, which optimises buildings powered by data.