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NextGen Cities Global Edition

Global NextGen Cities, Zigurat’s event dedicated to Smart City projects and initiatives, took place yesterday with great reception from the audience. It offered a panoramic view of the current and future situation of Smart Cities by exploring interesting initiatives from different work fields such as circular economy, air quality, knowledge-based workforce, funding for smart cities initiatives and much more.

Global NextGen Cities gave the opportunity to get to know city-changing project studies from all over the world thanks to the participation of professionals from leading companies and organizations, such as Smart Cities Marketplace, Circle Economy, UIA, Aveiro Tech City, Airlabs, EUROCITIES, CARTIF, and U4SSC.
Below is a brief summary of yesterday’s presentations. In case you were unable to attend, we encourage you to stream the event now: You can access it on the NextGen Cities website (available until January 3rd).

A collage of different stakeholder's activity to get a global vision

Jorge Saraiva, Chief Innovation Officer at Grupo Três60 and leader of the European network of city policy labs, was the first speaker of the event.

In his speech, he emphasized the current need for “Mission-Oriented Policies” to achieve real Smart Cities. He put Europe as an example of good praxis in this field:

“Europe is perceiving: let’s reinvent a paradigm based on sustainable development and become the leader by 2050, because we will be the first continent to go carbon neutral, and that’s leadership in 2050.”

He also argued about the importance of a sustainable development paradigm, where people co-create solutions for Smart Cities.

Smart Cities progress

Value chain transformation from Norway

In his turn, Jordi Pascual, Project Manager of the Cities Programme at Circle Economy, presented the City scan methodology the association has developed, and also a project implementation of it in Kongsvinger, the region of 50.000 inhabitants in Norway.

This region decided to focus on the Built Environment and see how the circular economy could support them and make the value change less impactful in terms of environmental impact.

Why extract and source virgin materials if we already have a whole bunch of resources in our buildings that are going to be demolished? This was one of many challenges Circle Economy identified after scanning the situation of the region, and they’ve already started working on it.

Smart City Progress

The importance of cities in the EU sustainability and inclusivity goals

For his part, Raffaele Barbato, UIA Project Coordinator, (Urban Innovative Actions, -Initiative of the European Union promoting pilot projects for sustainable urban development-) introduced the initiative functioning and some of their active projects and shared some keys to understanding the potential of European Cities.

“The solutions that are generated during new innovative processes should be ready and available to be tested within the project duration” is one of the considerations pointed out to take into account when addressing a smart project for a Smart City.

Urban Innovative actions

Preparing young generations to succeed in the Digital Era

Following him, Andre Costa, Head-Chief for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the Municipality of Aveiro, presented the Aveiro Tech City Initiative, which aims to support the digital transformation of the territory. The backbone of this initiative is the Aveiro STEAM City Project, financed by the UIA Initiative.

He explained how they have managed to make the Portuguese city more competitive globally promoting initiatives to better prepare young generations to succeed in the Digital Era, empower Human Resources to compete in the future job market, and attract researchers, startups, companies or entrepreneurs for the testing of innovative solutions.

Aveiro Tech City bootcamp

Urban air pollution is hyper-local

Marc Ottolini, AirLabs CEO, introduced some of the solutions the company has developed for mapping and monitoring polluted air. He talked about the necessity of more Air Quality Monitor points (he proposed the use of low-cost IoT sensors, more economical than stations). He also influenced the fact that urban air pollution is hyperlocal (if you measure on one street, two or three blocks further away the situation can be very different).

At the end of his speech, he also talked about the “Tragedy of the commons”, assuring the following: “We all make very small contributions to the problem, and therefore none of us feel really responsible, but the combined effect of all of us is the bad air pollutions problems that we have around the world”.

Airlabs Air Monitoring

Learning from the success stories of other cities

Brooke Flanagan, Project Coordinator at Eurocities, network of major European Cities, introduced the “Sharing Cities” project, which allows these big cities to learn from successes of each other. She presented some of the solutions implemented, such as E-bikes, E-logistics, or Smart Lamps Posts. She also shared some replication success tips: Start “easy”, be mindful of your surroundings and think ahead to ensure future advancements for your smart city.

Eurocities Sharing cities

Developing the Market for Smart City Solutions

64.000 m2 retrofitted with important reductions in the energy consumption, deployment of 22 e-buses, 73 alternative-fueled vehicles and 20 charging points for buses, and also 2.676 tons CO2/year avoided. These are some of the results that Miguel García-Fuentes, Project Coordinator at the CARTIF Technology Centre, exposed during his presentation of the Remourban project, implemented in 3 European cities in order to make them smarter and more sustainable. All this, involving nearly 20.000 citizens and co-creating with them in order to ensure the success of the actions implemented.


KPIs to measure the progress of cities towards sustainable communities

The final presentation was in charge of Tania Marcos Paramio, Vicechair of the United Nations initiative “United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) who demonstrate the necessity of KPIs to quantify, measure, report and monitor progress along their smartness and sustainability pathways to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These KPIs, assured Tania, help cities track their year-over-year progress, help them perform longer-term trends analysis, benchmark their performance as part of their strategic goals and compare their overall performance.


And we have come to the end! These are the super interesting presentations Zigurat had the pleasure of hosting yesterday at the Global NextGen Cities. Remember: if you missed it, you have the opportunity to attend it now on the NextGen Cities website (available until January 3rd!)

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