Action 25: Urban Digital Transition actions (new May 2017)

Potential of action

There are still large differences between EU cities as regards digitalising urban policies and local public services offered to citizens. Some of the core problems include:

  • Unequal access to fast internet connection

  • No or limited state-built ICT infrastructure upon which to develop local digital services (digital identity/ authentication and authorisation system, interoperability architecture)

  • No or partial national legal framework regulating the generation, use and storage of personal data

  • De-facto technical interoperability between national/local registers/ICT systems – data simply does not move

  • De-facto locked-in situations with specific vendors, limiting the development of new digital components due to uncompetitive and high price levels

  • Varying level of digital competence and appropriate organisational structures in city administrations and urban institutions

Smart cities are the future’s networked activity hubs, playing a key role in the societal and economic development. The future city is a place/hub/platform, to which people, companies etc. link their activities and find themselves all they need, be it employers/employees, services, social interaction etc. With the help of digitalisation it is possible to create tools for this development, making future cities functional and people-centric environments.

The partnership focuses on the topics related to urban policies which affect citizens and businesses most directly and which have the capacity to offer the highest growth potential for EU urban areas. The partnership wishes to work on the topics where digitalisation can have the most profound effect in transforming:

1. Urban governance,

2. Quality and fulfilment of life of its citizens and

3. The most advantageous business and growth opportunities for the businesses.

The partnership has chosen to analyse the topics of Future Health and social care services and Future learning & skills development as these areas of life concern every individual and the municipal level has very often clear responsibilities on these subjects. Digitalisation on the topics of eGoverment and Urban Planning can have a significant effect on transforming urban governance to fit the 21st century’s needs. Analysing the possibilities that are becoming available by fostering 5G and other Key Enabling Technologies can trigger new business growth in EU urban areas. The creation of digital services to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises and improving the quality of life of people is at the core of the focus of the partnership.

All EU citizens use healthcare services either directly provided by the municipality or used in the municipality; elderly, disadvantaged and people with special needs use social services usually provided by the municipal level. All citizens use at least some of the public services offered by urban authorities.

All EU citizens have benefitted from the education sector and more and more, will benefit from its e-learning facilities as they are developed and implemented. Lifelong, digital, learning will become more and more important as people will have more varied careers and will need to keep up, in particular, their digital skills to remain competitive on the job market.

Civil society should be strongly involved in shaping the digitalisation of cities (co-creation, design thinking, prosumers, participation especially in the development of the goals of data strategies and smart city strategies).

Businesses in the EU will receive a necessary growth boost from using new innovative technologies, new business models and open data to develop their products and services and access new markets, increasing growth in the EU. Urban authorities as well as all other administrative levels in the EU could achieve significant time and financial savings and increase their efficiency by digitalising their everyday procedures and public services they offer and developing modern, also cross-border services based on open data.

The influence of digitalisation on the competitiveness of the economies of different countries, social welfare and governance can be hardly over-estimated. The individual digitalisation processes in each of the topics under focus of the partnership will contribute to the overall digital transition in urban areas. They will greatly benefit from a single European framework and hence support and be supported by and the building of a Digital Single Market in the EU which will increase the Union’s growth perspective.

Description of action

The European Commission, Estonia and the cities of Oulu (FI) and Sofia (BG) and further partners (Member States, cities and stakeholders) will work together to develop an 'Urban Digital Transition' action plan.

The partnership focuses on five vertical themes: Future Health and social care services, eGovernment, Urban Planning, Future learning & skills development, and 5G / other KETs. Two horizontal enabler themes are cross-cutting the verticals: Data & Standardization and Business Models. The objective is to provide better public services to urban citizens, new innovations and create business opportunities for European cities.

The initiative for this Partnership on Digital Transition is part of the Urban Agenda for the EU and the related Pact of Amsterdam, which aim to better exploit the potential of cities.

Main responsible at the European Commission

DG REGIO & DG CONNECT

Target date

End 2018

More info (website): https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/urban-agenda/digital-transition