More than one year ago, on March 2021, the research company ESI ThoughtLab released Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World, a forward-looking study that provides city decision-makers with an evidence-based playbook for driving better social, environmental, and economic outcomes in today’s transformed world. A team of 30 economists and subject matter experts assessed the impact of technological, economic, and demographic shifts on cities.
The research, based on a survey of 167 city leaders from 82 countries around the world, dramatically underscores the vital role of technology, data, partnerships, and citizen engagement in enabling municipalities to help give rise to a new class of cities-Cities 4.0.
It was based on rigorous analysis, including in-depth phone surveys of smart city leaders around the world. The full list of cities, which includes Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Bangkok, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Washington, DC, Cairo, and Libreville, can be found by visiting www.citysolutions.riskierworld.com.
Urban experts and economists at ESI ThoughtLab benchmarked the cities on the use of smart technologies, data analytics, partnerships, and other levers of change across their urban ecosystems to develop this ground-breaking data and analysis. The research company also correlated and integrated data on city services, demographics, and quality of life from the World Bank, Numbeo, IESE, and other well-respected sources. To gain a citizen perspective, ESI ThoughtLab is also conducting ongoing AI-enabled sentiment analysis of residents of 10 representative cities around the world, which is publicly available on www.citysolutions.riskierworld.com.
All data and results from the study were reviewed by an independent advisory board of city leaders, corporate executives, and academic experts, including representatives from sponsoring companies Axis Communications, Bentley Systems, Cisco, Deloitte, Hatch, Honeywell, Intel, The International Finance Corporation, Microsoft, NTT, and Oracle.
Rise of Cities 4.0 & technology investments set to fuel change
ESI ThoughtLab researchers found that 20 of the 167 cities surveyed meet the definition of Cities 4.0 - cities that excel at leveraging technology, data, ecosystems, and partnerships of all kinds, including those with businesses, universities, citizens, and communities. As a result, Cities 4.0 are further ahead in smart city initiatives than other cities. For example, they widely deploy 14 smart city projects versus an average of seven for other cities and they have superior infrastructure, better public transportation, roads, parks, healthcare, and digital connectivity.
The 20 Cities 4.0 identified in the study are Aarhus, Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Orlando, Paris, Philadelphia, Singapore, Tallinn, and Vienna.
The research also found that cities are investing in an array of smart technologies. The largest investments are being made now in cloud (87% of cities), mobile (85%), IoT (81%), biometrics (72%), and AI (66%). Over the next three years, the technologies posting the largest increases in investment will be digital twins (+164%), 3-D printing (+125%), augmented reality/virtual reality (+63%), and data warehouses (+50%).
Here's how the research team defined the stages in making a city smarter:
Steps to becoming City 4.0
Finally, the main finding of this survey is that there are 4 steps to becoming a City 4.0 and they are, as follows:
Critical skills are needed in smart city project management
For a city to successfully go through these steps and become a city 4.0 the skills and appropriate qualifications of the people involved in this process are necessary. This is also the goal of the Skills4Cities project, being implemented by the Cluster Sofia Knowledge City and partners. Posts about this project and on this topic can be found on the cluster site as well as on the blog at the project website. Interesting conclusions can also be drawn from the data in our survey HERE.
Immersed in a constant technological change, the innovation rhythm keeps going even quicker. The latest tech developments have been creating new opportunities, and now, their impact is starting the next data centered revolution. The global data monetization market size was valued at USD 1.62 in 2020 and it is estimated to reach a USD 7,34 billion market size by 2027. Data will become one of the most precious assets of the world by far, even more important than gold.
The race to dominate this new era increased the interest in data acquisition, protection, transference, and analysis. These principal data value chain parts can be upgraded due to 5G, Artificial intelligence, quantum computing and cybersecurity technologies. With these assets, new products and improvements will keep being designed, impacting our daily life from household appliances to smart city solutions.
However, all the products are going to be smarter and more complex in the future and the only way companies will be able to develop these new smarter products will be throw collaboration platforms. Any company which wants to design a competitive product in the future market, will not possess all the components or technology of the value chain. Therefore, companies which collaborate will gain access to more resources and technologies to keep being competitive on the marketplace.
For example, the need to cybersecure networks has increased since IoT has gone forward, and now, the necessity to integrate cybersecurity by design is crucial. That is why, cybersecurity companies must integrate their expertise in the early phases of the design, collaborating and aligning with other product developers all the workforce in the same direction. And the smarter the product, smarter the cooperation must be.
All in all, companies will keep innovating and making more complex and better products in the future, but some companies will not be able to keep up and will die on the way. Intercompany collaboration will be one of the most important competitive advantages in the next years and therefore, we must continue creating and nurturing healthy open innovation-based ecosystems.
General aspects, description of the NW development region of Romania
The North-West Development Region of Romania includes the counties of Bihor, Bistrița-Năsăud, Cluj, Maramureș, Satu Mare and Sălaj, representing 14.3% of Romania's territory, thus ranking 4th nationally. The region is located on the border with Hungary in the western part, and with Ukraine in the northern part, the southern and eastern borders being inside the country.
According to the OECD classification, the North-West region is made up of 3 predominantly rural counties (Maramureș, Bistrița-Năsăud and Sălaj), a predominantly rural region close to the city (Satu Mare) and two intermediate regions close to the city (Cluj and Bihor counties).
In the North-West Region of Romania, according to the "Reilly-Converse"10 model, there is a city with complex services of regional importance - the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca and a city with complex services of sub-regional importance - the Municipality of Oradea. The municipality of Cluj-Napoca was designated as a growth pole in the North-West Region, thus benefiting mainly from investments from programs with community and national funding, and the municipalities of Oradea, Baia Mare and Satu Mare were designated as urban development poles.
According to the Local Human Development Index, in 2011, Cluj county is the only one in the North West Region to be included in the higher development category, being the 4th in the national top. This is followed by the county of Maramureș which is in the category of developed counties, while the counties of Bistrita-Năsăud, Satu Mare and Bihor are medium to high developed counties. Sălaj County is in the last place between the counties of the region with an average development. No county of the region is included in the category middle-lower development. In each county in the region, the majority of the population - between 30% and 53% - lives in localities with medium to high development. The exception is Cluj County, where the majority of the population lives in localities with comprehensive development; however, here the percentage of the population living in the areas with medium to low development is higher than the one in medium development localities. In the rest of the counties, between 9% and 18% of the inhabitants are in localities with comprehensive development.
Access to Internet
In 2018, 79.8% of households in Romania have access to the Internet at home, compared to 2011, when only 43.3% had access. Expressed interest in connecting on the Internet is, however, influenced by the possibilities offered territorially by the providers of this service and the financial availability that each household has. Their transposition in the decision to a purchasing a home computer or connecting to the Internet can explain the large gaps encountered between urban and rural environments.
In 2018, the North-West Region is in 3rd place in terms of the proportion of households equipped with computer at home (72%), after Bucharest-Ilfov and West. North-West was growing compared to 2011, in what regarding this indicator, when 45% of households were equipped with a computer. 61% of the citizens of the North-West region uses the Internet daily, 12% of people between the ages of 16 and 74 years have interacted with public authorities via the Internet.
The North-West region is in third place after Bucharest-Ilfov and West, in 2018, in terms of internet connection of households (74%), increasing compared to 2011. Share of elderly people of 16-74 year olds who used the internet at least once in 2018 places the North-West region on 3rd place, with 83.9%.
Smart city initiatives
According to the studies carried out by the "Regional Strategy for Sustainable Urban Mobility and Smart Cities of the Northwest Region 2021-2027", from the point of view of the implementation stage of the concept of Smart City at Regional level shows that 70.6% of public administrations are in the early stages, 11.8% want to implement the concept in the next funding period, 8.8% want implementation of pilot projects and 2.9% consider it not a priority for the development of the city/municipality.
Only the County of Cluj and the municipalities of Cluj-Napoca and Oradea have developed strategies or plans for adoption of the "smart city" concept. Currently, the municipality of Cluj Napoca is the only city that appears in specific European "smart city" rankings and networks. This aspect is largely due to a constant effort to develop, test and sometimes scale "smart city" solutions supported by the environment entrepreneurial, educational and public administration.
Examples of initiatives of the local public administration of the municipality of Cluj Napoca for the implementation of the smart city strategy:
Overall, until now, 63 smart city projects have been implemented in the municipality of Cluj Napoca as follows; smart mobility category – 23, followed by smart living – 13, smart governance – 12, smart environment – 8, smart economy – 5, smart people – 2