For the 5th and final part of our showcase on smart cities in central & eastern Europe we will be staying in Romania, but this time moving south to the capital and largest city, Bucharest. Most capital cities like to lead the way when it comes to smart city development, but as we saw from the previous article on Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest has a bit of competition.
Representatives from Siemens Romania pointed out that six years ago, in a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in Europe, Bucharest ranked 28 out of 30 in the “Green Cities Index.” Of course, Bucharest has made some progress since, however, there is potential for improvement in areas such as transport, energy management of buildings and reducing CO2 emissions.
Telekom Romania, together with its technology partner, Cisco, founded the first smart city space in the Youth Park in Bucharest. The project completed in April 2016 implements solutions based on four integrated components: intelligent parking, Wi-Fi availability, public safety and smart lighting. These solutions have an obvious benefit to the citizens that use the park, but they also allow the city to run the park facilities more efficiently and productively.
After a successful pilot project, Telekom Romania are now in discussion with a number of different municipalities within the city to see if they can implement similar projects in parks and other areas. The more success these projects have the better because it can then start to create a buzz around smart city development – only then can they move from pilots into fully funded projects.
If Bucharest wants to be smarter then they will need to start to combine a number of key elements: an integrated approach to environmental issues, development of appropriate new political infrastructures, citizen engagement and participation and the implementation of technology for the modernisation of infrastructure.
When it comes to transport the city plans to become a living organism: to listen, see and think. Real-time information will be collected, understood and interpreted by the control center. The traffic lights will be synchronised to help create an environment without congestion, this will not only take into account the public transport, but will include private transport too with the view of creating a holistic integrated transport system. The data will also be used to guide urban planning so that Bucharest can meet the needs of its citizens all over the city.
So, we have come the final part of our showcase on smart cities in central & eastern Europe, what have we learnt?
The important thing is that the cities we have focussed on have started their journey towards becoming smart cities, but they (as every city does) have a long way to go before they can say that smart has been implemented across all parts of their cities. One of the key issues in this region is a disconnect between the politicians and the people. There is a lot of distrust from the citizens, so by involving them in the process of smart city development the politicians have an opportunity to bridge this divide and create not only smarter cities, but a better connected society.