Smart cities in the Eurozone - Italy: Are you smart enough?

Smart cities are not a product of fantasy fiction, an unrealistic idea far from collective imagination. Starting from the basic definition they are cities with at least 100,000 people, which use in an efficient way ICT technology supported by municipal governments in order to reduce energy consumption, enhancing the quality of life for citizens with the objective to bring some tangible benefits to the environment.

This phenomenon is typically European as it is widespread in all the 28 EU countries with the exception of Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg because in those countries there are not such big cities that would exploit the potential of the smart city project.  Geographically the countries which show better prospects are the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy if absolute numbers are considered. However focusing on the concentration potential the undisputed winners are Slovenia and Estonia. This clearly shows that this project is not simply richer country-material but indeed it could be an opportunity for less developed countries within Europe to step forward and create a business out of it.  As a matter of fact before the end of 2014 around the smart cities will be implemented a business of almost 200 million euro and a fifth of the IT market will be represented by cloud technologies that will serve those cities.

However, building a smart city comes with threatening challenges, as it would be necessary to provide privacy and effective data security in the first place, and secondly it would lead to a harmonization of the hundreds of departments that will work together to enhance their potential and the environmental outcomes. Creating smarter cities will become more and more important as time goes by and also more expensive as the prerequisite is to build an innovative cloud system to move to the next level. Cloud services suppliers are willing to create the liaisons requested to provide sensors and other data sources to work within the application of the project.

Is Italy smart enough? The smart city project in Italy is still in a long and complex transformation phase which is unfortunately affected by the economic crisis that hit the expense capability and the wealth of Public Administration and the government. However, it is worth mentioning that our country is undertaking many environmental-friendly projects with the objective to become smarter and smarter. Not only Milan, Genoa, Rome but also in the south where the Mediterranean cities are involved in the “Smart city Med” conference. Thanks to the wire created by the southern cities, the most innovative projects will be discussed, looking for the potential benefits to the local economy.

Certainly, there is room for improvement but these first steps seem promising and full of hope. Is Italy ready to be a pioneer in Southern Europe? Time and sweat will give us the answer we are looking for.
Stay Tuned, Stay Green.

Gabriele Tringali