Smart cities: digital and sustainable cities

If we think of our lives in 2050, we imagine living in smart urban spaces, in a society that manages services in an integrated manner, and in which people’s lives are made easier thanks to the use of digital technology.

Infographic with the elements of a smart city

How will urban life evolve?

Three main changes

The transition process into smart cities started years ago. In 2012, the European Commission launched “Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership” an initiative aimed at coordinating investments in urban areas and supporting projects involving energy, transport, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Recently, due to the Covid-19 health emergency, the pace of the transition to smart cities has accelerated. In fact, having to carry on with everyday life in a completely new context is paving the way for three main changes.

Social connection and sustainable mobility

The new way of conceiving cities looks at supporting lifestyles that encourage socialization and provide a better balance between professional and private life thanks to the combination of the digital instruments available, from Internet access to smarter and more efficient mobility.
In smart cities, with reference to both private and public mobility, everything is more sustainable thanks to an extensive network of electric vehicle charge points. For example, Acea is involved in the development of electric mobility and plans to install 2,200 charge points –  the majority of which will be in the City of Rome – by 2024.  

“15-Minute Cities”

Neighborhoods as mini-cities interconnected to provide services and access green areas – reachable on foot or using sustainable transport — are the key points to improve the quality of life in urban spaces.
 “These elements recall La ville du quart d’heure” created by Carlos Moreno, professor at the Sorbonne University in Paris. A city in which everything can be reached in just 15 minutes, on foot or by bicycle. A city designed around people’s needs, where neighborhoods are autonomous ecosystems in which time is optimized, people enjoy their local communities, and their working and private lives are balanced.

Energy and digitalization for cities and local communities

Infrastructure — especially digital and electrical — is what makes constantly evolving cities sustainable and smart.
Acea is directly involved in supporting the energy and digital transition to a more sustainable development model. Its objective is to increase the production of energy from renewable sources with the support of the evolving technology applied to the distribution network, thanks to investments aimed at improving its resilience, and offer increasingly more services to users.

Professional figures in smart cities

Mobility manager

The mobility manager collaborates with the structures and entities in charge of traffic and transport to ensure efficient travel across the territory.

Urban planner

In charge of ensuring urban development by integrating analysis and territorial planning with the most advanced Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Big data analyst

Collects and examines data from the sensors scattered around the city, which provide the information necessary to create new services (apps) for the public and for businesses.

Energy manager

Monitors energy consumption and takes initiatives aimed at ensuring maximum efficiency at the lowest cost possible.

Data protection officer

Responsible for the protection of personal data. Monitors, manages, and takes care of processing the data from customers and from the public and private entities who deal with the company.

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The importance of a holistic approach

The smart city approach must seek the involvement of all players, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization and sustainable development.
The involvement of private individuals, companies, start-ups and the general public allows to collect and include ideas and projects with the knowledge that a truly smart city must listen to the voice of all stakeholders, in order to transform the character and livability of its spaces.
Therefore, utilities play an essential role in the transition. With their competences and experience they can intercept new business opportunities, bring together the needs of the different players, and have a concrete impact on communities.
Acea, by investing significantly in sustainability and innovation, aims to actively contribute to the acceleration of the transition to smart cities.