Exhibition and Conference for SE Europe Smart Cities Section - Buildings, Mobility and Infrastructure 2022, IEC, Sofia / Postponed: seeSUSTAINtec 2021

National Policy Aspects in the Field of Information Technology for Innovative Smart Solutions

National Policy Aspects in the Field of Information Technology for Innovative Smart Solutions

Interview with Anelia Dimova and Reni Antonova, Information Technology Directorate, Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications of Bulgaria

How the information technologies can help the progress in the economy in Bulgaria? What is our national policy in this sector?

Information and communication technologies are one of the main drivers for building a competitive economy based on knowledge and innovation. Therefore, the EU and Bulgaria recognize the development of ICT as a priority strategic horizontal policy. The "Digital Bulgaria 2020" National Programme defines the parameters for the development of information society in Bulgaria and aims to support the implementation of European priorities and tasks described in the Digital Agenda of Europe in terms of social and economic potential of information and communication technologies and the Internet by 2020.

The development of the digital single market and the smart cities requires a number of basic preconditions: Development of ICT infrastructure, availability of skilled workforce and good e-skills and use all possible public and private sources of financial resources to support advanced technical solutions.

The Bulgarian Government fully recognizes the potential of the smart cities initiative and actively supports the cooperation between the municipalities and business in its implementation. Numerous projects are being supported by the current operational programmes, the municipality budgets and various public-private partnerships in areas as sustainable mobility including advanced smart public transport, intelligent traffic management and congestion avoidance, demand management, information and communication, freight distribution, walking and cycling, energy efficiency of public and private residentials and buildings, energy efficiency of the heating and cooling systems of the cities, energy efficiency of the lighting systems, public e-services (administrative, e-learning, e-education, e- social care), etc.

Both of you will be speakers in Smart Cities Conference – what will be highlights of your presentation?

We will present National Policy Aspects in the Field of Information Technology for Innovative Smart Solutions

- Smart cities initiatives in the Digital Agenda for Europe.
- Smart cities initiatives in the Digital single market.
- Digital Bulgaria 2020

• Presentation of the program
• Normative framework
• New Generation Broadband infrastructure
• Electronic governance
• Cyber security
• Clouds. Data -Open and Big, the Internet of Things, RFID, M2M
• Internet Governance
• Intelligent transport systems, e-Call
• E-Glossary on Information Society
• Information Society Indicators

What are the economic and social benefits from the implementation of intelligent solutions in cities?

A smart city uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to improve contacts between citizens and government. Therefore, cities are key factor in achieving the EU's objectives of 20% energy saving by 2020 and developing a low carbon economy by 2050.

One of the greatest challenges facing the EU is how best to design and adapt cities into smart/ intelligent and sustainable environments. Smart urban technologies can make a major contribution to tackling many urban challenges.

What are the strategic documents that will influence the development of information technology and in which projects in terms of smart cities Bulgaria participates?

The development of a dynamic and innovative digital economy will facilitate growth and productivity, allow the development of new services by generating additional social benefits and increase the number of jobs, all of which require an available ultra-high speed next generation internet access. In this regard, the construction of new broadband infrastructure for next generation access, the facilitation of the use of the radio spectrum

National Broadband Infrastructure Plan for Next Generation Access (adopted with Decision № 435 of 26.06.2014 of the Council of Ministers). Also, a Roadmap was developed in order to implement the priorities of the Plan.

The Plan focuses on the construction of new broadband infrastructure for next-generation access in order to achieve the objectives set out in the Digital Agenda for Europe: 100% coverage of at least 30Mbps for the general population and access to speeds of 100 Mbps and above in for least 50 % of households by 2020.

The Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of the Republic of Bulgaria (adopted with Decision of the Council of  Ministers No 857 from 3th November 2015 г.), Chapter ‘Digital growth’, pays particular attention to the development of a balanced innovative ecosystem in the field of ICT through ICT based infrastructure – technological parks, business incubators, clusters, centers of excellence, e-infrastructure and others. Measures are set out to increase the skills of ICT professionals and the digital competences of the workforce in other sectors, in accordance with the requirements of the labour market, also through the new Strategy for the effective implementation of information and communication technologies in education and science of the Republic of Bulgaria 2014-2020 (adopted in July 2014).

In March 2014 the E-Governance Development Strategy has been adopted by the Council of Ministries of Bulgaria. The E-Governance Development Strategy has been prepared as part of the country's commitments under the preconditions for EU Funds for the period 2014-2020. The main goal of the Strategy is to outline the framework for all current and new activities of e-governance.

In May 2014 a Roadmap for the Implementation of the E-Governance Development Strategy’2014-2020 was adopted. The Roadmap is a dynamic instrument defining the concrete measures, activities, terms and financial resources, needed to achieve the strategy objectives and the expected results. The first stage of its implementation includes 30 most important projects that have to be completed in the period 2015-2020.

At the end of 2015, three major e-government projects were implemented by the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology, and Communications with the financial support of the Operational Programme “Administrative Capacity” 2007-2013.

Some of the projects with Bulgarian participants in terms of smart cities are:

ü  Horizon 2020: smarter together
ü  Horizon 2020 – Sharing Cities
ü  3e-Houses project – deals with the integration of the most established ICT technologies in social housing in order to provide an innovative service for energy efficiency
ü  Participation in European accelerators FIWARE SpeedUP! Europe, FI-Adopt and Finodex
ü  SpeedUP! Europe
ü  FP7 ICT-2011.11.3 “Experiential Living Labs for the Internet Of Things” - ELLIOT Project

In Conclusion: There is no doubt that the smart cities initiative has a huge potential to improve quality of life and economic productivity. It is vital that we realize the initiative in a way that involves all interested stakeholders in the process and utilize their resources and experience.

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