How Europe is Leading the Way in Smart City Development

The more cities discovering the benefits of IoT (Internet of things) and connected solutions, the higher the growth for smart city projects. Between now and 2026, the global market for smart city services is expected to jump from $40.1 billion to $97.9 billion, and Europe is already leading the way in terms of the number of projects.

One main reason: the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. Since the launch of the partnership in 2012, a budget of €365 million has been allotted to help European cities tackle environmental, societal and health challenges, co-funding demonstration projects and coordinating current city initiatives. Here are a few of the factors driving this development in Europe and how cities like Milan are responding with their own smart solutions. 


Smart city trends

As new national programmes roll out from the United States and India, joining the smart city programmes in the European Union, China and Japan, the world’s leading economies are showing that smart city development is more than just a fad. According to the Smart City Tracker Q12017 report, there are 250 smart city projects in place in 178 cities around the world. In Europe, these projects are looking to strengthen partnerships between industry and the cities themselves, working particularly to drive urban development and infrastructure.

Energy efficient by 2020

Another major driving factor for smart city development in Europe is the EU’s 2020 climate and energy package, which has three goals:

-Cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent

-Produce 20 percent of EU energy from renewable sources

-Improve energy efficiency by 20 percent  

In this regard, the EU is looking at smart solutions to cover specific sectors such as housing, agriculture, waste and transport. Let’s take a look at one of the projects funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme: Milan’s Porta Romana/Vettabbia area. Instead of being technology-focused, the city aims to center more around its citizens, enhancing transportation services and creating energy efficient solutions. When this redeveloped part of the city wraps up the projects in place, it will “connect the historic centre of the city to its agricultural belt by ‘stitching together’ two geographically, economically and socially separated areas.”

The revamped region will feature smart solutions like 300 smart lamp posts; social housing car sharing; a Smart City lab; 150 e-bikes at 14 different stations; and 4,000 square metres of retrofitted public buildings.