As the living environment of a large majority of citizens in the European Union, cities are at the centre of the fight against climate change. To address this challenge, European cities will have to reinvent themselves into “Smart Cities”, by decreasing their energy consumption and carbon emissions to offer a liveable and sustainable environment for their inhabitants. This process requires a detailed planning for the coming years, but for city representatives, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their own Smart City plan is not always easy without the support of independent experts. To help future cities making the right choices, the seven cities partner of the Sinfonia Smart City Initiative have identified the critical questions they have asked each other to refine their respective Smart City plans.
Identifying the key factors of success for a Smart City project
On this basis, experts from EURAC research centre in Bolzano have built an online ‘SWOT’ tool, designed for cities willing to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of their Smart City plan. This web-based tool guides the user through a list of 40 simple questions, to be answered by “Yes”, “No” or “I don’t know”.
Thanks to this self-assessment the tool provides a full analysis of a planned Smart City project by identifying the main opportunities and barriers for the implementation of the Smart City plan.Strengths and weaknesses are identified as internal factors, relating for instance to the type and number of project participants or the financing model, while opportunities and threats are connected to the external environment in which the project will be implemented. The latter includes factors, such as regulation, socio-cultural changes, or technological innovation rates in the region, that can hamper or facilitate the project implementation.
Building up on strengths and opportunities to overcome pre-identified barriers
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are identified in five specific areas: technique and implementation, behaviour, economy and finance, legislation, as well as policy and administration.
“In each of these areas, the SWOT self-assessment tool will enable city planners to understand whether the implementation of their project might proceed rather smoothly or encounter difficulties”, says Clémentine Coujard, consultant at Technofi, the leading French company in Innovation management. “This will help local policy makers to build up on the identified strengths and opportunities to overcome the barriers and challenges detected before the implementation”. With this analysis, cities will be able to plan adapted measures and move one step forward in the successful implementation of their plans to become more connected, energy efficient and sustainable.
You are interested in assessing your own Smart City Plan? Test freely the Sinfonia online SWOT tool by signing in on http://sinfonia.eurac.edu/swot/.