The Smart Cities Information System could be of great use to the Balkan countries
Interview with Gábor Heves, Exhibitor at Smart Cites
Please present in brief the initiative Smart Cities Information System - what are its aims and priorities?
The Smart Cities Information System (SCIS) aims to bring together project developers, cities, institutions, industry and experts from across Europe to exchange data, experience and know-how and to collaborate on the creation of smart cities and an energy-efficient urban environment. The SCIS knowledge base presents results and best practices from smart cities projects under the CONCERTO initiative and the smart cities calls in Horizon 2020 to promote replication. With focus on smart cities, energy efficiency, transport and mobility, and ICT, SCIS showcases solutions in the fields of sustainable building and district development, renewable energy sources for cities, energy efficiency and low-carbon technology applications.
How will it affect the positive development of the smart cities sector?
SCIS intends to accelerate the uptake of innovations and the speed of energy-efficient urban renewal. The European Commission has already spent significant funds on demonstration projects in the field of urban energy efficiency – primarily in the framework of the CONCERTO Initiative. However, the impact of these projects typically remains local and replication levels are still rather low. Therefore the European Commission supported the launch of this initiative to facilitate the spread of knowledge and experience. By establishing an active online expert community and by presenting data in a user-friendly manner, it becomes easy for everyone to see what works and what does not. The spread of these practical findings is expected to greatly contribute to the ultimate goal - the increase of energy-efficiency in European cities.
Please tell us more about trends, good examples and supporting mechanisms that can be applied in the Region of South-Eastern Europe in this field.
Energy security and cost of energy are keywords with increasing importance also in South-Eastern European countries. On a national level – especially in Romania and Bulgaria, which are already part of the European Union – there are legal obligations to increase energy efficiency and the share of renewables. However, to a large extent these national commitments need to be implemented on a city level, where the bulk of economic activities takes place. Local energy efficiency is still below the European average in most South-Eastern European cities, and this is especially true in the housing sector. Therefore, European smart cities initiatives which aim at a qualitative refurbishment of the building stock have high relevance in all these countries.
Considering today’s energy prices and the expected increase in the future, there are a number of energy-efficiency measures which are already economically viable nowadays. However, as these depend to a great extent on the local circumstances and have to be tested in a practical environment, there is a great need for sharing such know-how in the expert community. This is where the Smart Cities Information System could be of great use to the Balkan countries, and we invite all municipal representatives, urban planners, municipal energy companies and other interested local stakeholders to join the online community.