3rd Webinar - Moving Forward/2021 Edition: Cities in Transition

13/05/2021     V21 / Moving Forward / Webinar / Cities in Transition

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The third webinar of the "Moving Forward/2021 Edition" series, held by Vissaium XII and Altice Labs, took place on the 28th of April, following the same line "New paradigms for the future of cities" but now with focus on the "Cities in Transition" theme.

The session had the participation of José Couto, Chairman of the General Council of Vissaium XXI; Miguel Castro Neto - Associate Professor and Subdirector of NOVA-IMS and moderator of this webinar; Catarina Selada - Head of City Lab of CEiiA - Centre for Engineering and Product Development; Miguel Eiras Antunes - Global Smart City, Smart Nation & Local Government Leader at Deloitte; Ricardo Costa - Councilor of Guimarães Municipality, being Alcino Lavrador – General-Manager of Altice Labs - in charge of closing the session.

José Couto made his first intervention by paying a small tribute to António Almeida Henriques, former Mayor of Viseu who died recently victim of COVID-19, valuing its committed contribution to policies that enhance people's quality of life based on smart cities and sustainability, and then presented an overview on the theme of smart cities and cities in transition, under discussion in the webinar.

Next, Miguel Castro Neto introduced the speakers of the panel, Catarina Selada, Miguel Eiras Antunes and Ricardo Costa and launched the discussion about the need to respond to the climate emergency and recovery from the pandemic, reflecting on which paths should be taken to respond to the issue of green transition, since it depends on everyone but it is very much supported by the digital transition.

Catarina Selada presented the new "AYR" ecosystem developed by CEiiA, which materializes a new concept for decarbonization, allowing to offset the harmful gas emissions generated with the valuation of avoided emissions, managing digital credits (that can be exchanged for goods or services) in order to offset the emissions generated locally. These digital credits can be exchanged for sustainable goods and services, in a circular ecosystem within the city. There can even be high emitting companies participating in this ecosystem through the community stock exchange, where a local carbon fund can be created that can be used for green projects in the city (either mitigation or sequestration of emissions).

It has been explained how credits are generated via municipalities, mobility operators or companies that want to provide a sustainability service. The use of the bicycle instead of the car was given as an example. There is a quantification of emissions generated (ideally in real time) which, in turn, will be used to calculate the credit to be attributed to the various participants in the mobility process.

Catarina Selada mentioned that the main goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and that a more decentralized environmental policies logic is needed, with focus on the user and the citizen who may, with their decisions, directly impact the city where they live.

It was also mentioned that Matosinhos (where the AYR project is being tested) intends to be an experimentation center for new means of sustainability, creating and boosting the local ecosystem, opening the doors for the replication of these means in other cities in Portugal.

Miguel Eiras Antunes highlighted that the local economy is the best place to solve the problems of the cities and that, according to a very recent study by Delloite, the major trends in the development of cities include:

- Better planning of green spaces in cities, in a logic of more space for people and fewer cars; more gardens and fewer roads;
- Circular economy and local production, which translates into energy communities, urban gardens;
- Sustainable buildings and infrastructures;
- 15 minute city, meaning all key services are close to us, avoiding unnecessary travel and mitigating the impacts of not being able to travel. It needs an integrated approach;
- Sustainable mobility;
- Smart Health Communities, in an increasingly urban context and within the city. Health and social services decentralized and as a way to have outcomes and impacts on our lives;
- Assistance/remote support;
- Active citizen participation: co-creation, open data;
- Social inclusion, the need to avoid digital divide;
- Ecosystem perspective, with integrated technological partners.

But for all this, it will be necessary to set up specialized teams in the municipalities to be able to take advantage of the support funds, which are difficult to spend. It will also be necessary to prepare cities' strategic plans on top of the pillars available in the various programmes, prepare a more agile governance model and simpler public procurement and, finally, involve the ecosystems.

Ricardo Costa described the case of the municipality where he serves as Councilor, Guimarães, as something that has been planned since 2014 and that is related to its sustainability, highlighting what is already underway, such as the monitoring of parking spaces, communicative CWAYs (traffic control for citizen information and also reading how many people have passed on that crossing, as well as the amount of cars that have passed there), integrated ticketing and real-time information to citizens.

He also mentioned some projects that are underway in this regard, such as: I9G/I9IN; ProximCity (platform for restaurants and traditional commerce); Healthy Lifestyle Monitoring; digitalization of public services. He explained that with these projects the purpose is to collect values to be able to intervene, collect values in order to be able to intervene, assessing how all data is integrated and related, enabling a greater capacity of adjustment of the city to the citizen's needs.

Ricardo Costa also highlighted that Guimarães will have, in a near future, the Deucalion supercomputer, having also in course the following projects: CIX - corporate innovation experience (virtual showroom without the need to travel); A digital innovation hub; The GRID - Guimarães resilient and innovative district; New energy sources; Corridors for autonomous driving.

The closing speech was given by Alcino Lavrador, who once again reinforced the mandatory tribute to António Almeida Henriques, the great national driving force behind the theme of smart cities.

Alcino Lavrador summarized by speaking of the various topics that were addressed in the session, from the fight against climate change, to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable City, with concern for future generations, where technology emerges as a facilitator and a means to achieve these objectives.

He also highlighted the H2020 - Sharing Cities project, in which Altice Labs participates, as another example of a community boosting platform where digital credits obtained by citizens in a "Digital Social Market" can also be exchanged for services in the local community.

"In conclusion, technology is not enough, nor is it enough that people want it. It is therefore important to create new models of interaction with the citizen and new public policies, local and even national, so that the green and sustainable transformation can exist."

This entire online session can be reviewed here.

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