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What is a smart city?

Urban agglomerations and their surrounding areas host the majority of the human population, are the main areas of social and economic development, but also the largest consuming resources and pollution generators.

In recent decades, major challenges have arisen in front of cities, with the adaptability and sustainability of long-term development, such as:

a) ageing urban infrastructure;

b) Restructuring of traditional economic sectors and estimated increase of unemployment under pressure of automatization, robotic processing, 3d printing and artificial intelligence;

c) Major changes in the Internet and the online environment in trade and services;

d) Climate, environmental and pollution changes, overlapping with the diminishing energy resources and the increase in energy prices;

e) Ensuring the safety, availability and quality of resources and utilities;

f) Population ageing and pressure on social budgets;

g) Increased emphasis on citizens ‘ safety, waste recycling, circular economy;

h) exacerbation of global competition at the level of cities, for attracting resources and qualified personnel;

i) decrease of local government budgets and dependence on central budgets, which limits the development speed of projects by local governments

The concept of “smart city” proposes the use of technologies already available in addressing challenges facing local communities. While there is no standardised definition, we can consider a smart city as a “community in which traditional networks and services become more effective through the use of digital and telecommunications technologies, for the benefit of citizens and the environment Business “(EU – Digital Single Market). In the vision of the Ministry of Communications and Information Society, the development initiatives of smart cities in Romania will ensure “stimulating the use of innovative technologies with positive impact on the quality of life of citizens, environmental protection, the development of the business environment and the sustainable development of local communities and society in general. ”

Numerous studies (World Bank-Magnet cities, migration and commuting in Romania) have shown that a city is rapidly developing if there is a quality infrastructure, an environment that supports business development, especially those with high value added, an efficient administration and collaboration between the private environment and a high-performance university and research institutions environment.

The ISO37120/2014 standard defines the parameters of sustainable communities, supporting the identification of strategic vertical (VS) development of a smart city, the most commonly encountered:

VS.1. Intelligent Local Administration (e-Administration, e-government) – is based on easy communication and interaction with citizens, facilitating the development of local business environment, implementation of impact projects on quality of life, reducing Increased transparency, efficiency and reduction of administrative costs

VS. 2. Intelligent Urban Mobility (sustainable transport) – efficient and non-polluting public and commercial transport (electric vehicles), multimodal transport, use of physical means (walking, bicycles), parking management, management of Traffic, infrastructure, logistics and efficient planning, easy access and payment tools

VS. 3. Sustainable/Intelligent buildings (living environment and sustainable business) – includes energy efficient buildings, with minimal external energy intake, able to use large-scale renewable energies, reduce pollution, automate Utilities, ensuring a high standard of living or working

VS. 4. ICT and Public Utilities (infrastructure and processes integrated between ICT, energy, utilities and transport) – requires the use of IT and communication technologies to interconnect infrastructure facilities, in order to improve efficiency and sustainability of the city; Includes for example renewable energy resources, automation of energy efficiency growth, public lighting, communication networks, as well as sensor networks for utilities infrastructure (water, wastewater, gas, heating, traffic, waste, etc.), units and platforms for acquisition, storage and processing of information, management and decision-making

VS.5. Environment – Ensure permanent monitoring of the main environmental parameters and effective measures against exceeding the permitted limits

VS.6. Intelligent public safety – ensuring public order, security and safety of citizens, prevention and mode of action in the event of accidents, emergencies, calamities

VS.7. Intelligent Health (e-health)-improvement of health, quality of services, flows between medical units, reduction of costs by optimizing resources, telemedicine, portable devices

VS.8. Intelligent education – efficiency and quality of educational system, training, digital literacy, learning and training platforms

VS.9. Smart Tourism (e-tourism)-information and interaction with tourists, local promotion, services

VS.10. Innovation and Local Smart Business – sustainable development through collaboration with administration, focus on creative, innovative and high-value added business, cost efficiency, resource saving, environmental protection

VS.11. Smart Urban Planning – spatial, temporal and multidisciplinary planning of the city’s development

From a technical point of view, a smart city requires an extensive network of sensors and automation (IoT – the Internet of Things), dedicated communications channels, data acquisition platforms, statistical and open databases, city platforms, applications Management, integration and use, interfaces with other platforms, back-up and security systems, control Panel and analysis, application management, etc.

As part of the development of the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and communities, it has been found that the simple approach of intelligent strategic verticals is not enough for the development of a smart city, identifying itself and appointed strategic Facilitators (FS) of the success of such a project, which include: Citizens ‘ involvement, integrated project planning and management, development of standards, units of measurement, policies and specific regulations, exchange of Information and good practices, new ways of data governance, new collaborative models, business models, acquisitions and funding.

Business models for smart communities must have modular development, adapted to the local ecosystem (administration, industry, citizens with local objectives), part of an EU market for solutions, products and technologies.

The financing of smart solutions is possible if intelligent facilities reduce operational costs, investments are combined from various makers/players in the market, so that the cost becomes reasonable and the investments are long-term. Citizens must be involved in the development of smart solutions and in contributing to funds, in terms of achieving tangible advantages. The procurement process needs to be updated through the involvement of cities in common governance and investment entities, as well as EU/financial institutions.

In conclusion, smart city projects are extremely complex, require extensive expertise, major resources and propose fundamental changes from a technological point of view, but also from a social point of view, as regards how entities and citizens of a city interact. The efforts made by a city in the transition to a smart one are rewarded by ensuring a sustainable development and an increasing life quality of its citizens.