The world is urbanizing at a tremendous rate. More than 50% of the population of the world is living in urban areas and this will increase to about 70% in 2050. Cities increasingly face challenges of sustainability and quality of life and therefore need smart metropolitan solutions. Making the city ‘smart’ -or similarly ‘intelligent’ or ‘innovative’- can help to face these challenges.
Although there is no clear and absolute definition of the smart city –something we will discuss at the Smart Cities workgroup session during the trade mission- the adjective smart focuses on urban innovations and the implementation and integration of information and communication technology (ICT) to optimize processes, infrastructure and everyday life in cities. This encompasses many themes, e.g. (smart) mobility, (smart) energy, (smart) waste.
In the French Dutch context many interesting initiatives have been started in recent years. Both in France and the Netherlands institutes and organisations have been set-up to work on urban challenges (e.g. AMS Institute, Amsterdam Smart City, La Fabrique de la Cité, Advancity and many others) Collaboration between such institutes is key as many of the challenges have an international scope. During President Hollande’s state visit in January 2014, a Letter of Intention was signed between both countries on Smart issues. From the Dutch side, Alliander, TU Delft en TNO signed, as well as their French counterparts Alstom Grid, Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble and low and medium voltage electricity company ERDF (Electricité Réseau Distribution France). In November 2014 a big French-Dutch conference on the City of the Future was held in Paris. More than 50 parties signed a Letter of Intention on Smart Cities.
Related to (smart) energy solutions a great example of collaboration is the City-Zen project, which aims to develop and demonstrate Zero Energy Cities with a central role for citizens. 23 partners are working together to achieve a future-proof grid, innovative heat and cold solutions and energy efficient buildings. Both Amsterdam and Grenoble will be living labs for these innovations.