Why did Brussels choose to participate in the CITyFiED project, and how does it fit in with your energy and environment strategy?
The current political agenda and ambition is to make Brussels a smarter city. In recent years, we have conducted projects following the concept, which we used as foundations for our current work, but we lacked a unified strategic plan. So, we decided to organise a transversal work group to define what the strategy should be, based on the city's needs.
In the meantime, we sent out a call for candidates in order to find and hire an external consultant to help us develop a strategic plan regarding informatics software and hardware as well as new technology implementation. We can say that Brussels is presently busy organising all the smart city projects and at the same time looking towards the future - planning a substantive evolution of what we already have.
As public authority, the City of Brussels also owns a park of about 3000 housing units and thus is responsible for its quality, which of course means to always be on the lookout for new solutions to reach the best sustainability. Since 2008, the City of Brussels teamed up with social welfare department to develop plan called "agenda 21" which, among other things, defines rules to build or rehabilitate buildings to be as energy efficient and sustainable as possible, according to the possibilities.
The CITyFiED project is exactly the kind of laboratory that will develop our know-how on these topics. So the opportunity to share and increase our mutual knowledge is tremendous and could on our part bring a real benefit for the future of the city and all its inhabitants.
What smart city measure or energy solution would you like to share with the CITyFiED community?
In 2008, the City of Brussels in collaboration with the social welfare department developed and adopted the “Agenda 21”, an action plan defining rules and guidelines to obtain more sustainable development based on the city's key issues: protection of the environment, social equity, economic development and governance.
It contains more than 150 action sheets classified according to 5 main target goals and 22 subfields. Each action sheet has its own goals and indicator and is evaluated annually. This plan actually defines the right behaviour in terms of sustainability of the City for municipal staff and local government as well as regular city user or inhabitants. It provides a global vision on the situation and its possible evolutions and also has a federating appeal, uniting people to reach towards a common goal.
“Agenda 21” is an ever evolving approach, constantly re-evaluating itself and adapting accordingly.
Following the Agenda 21 impulse, the City created in 2010 an Energy Unit and an Energy plan, specifically designed and dedicated to the reduction of energy consumption. The Energy plan is structured around 4 main themes: investment and awareness on the rational use of energy, monitoring of the gas and electricity consumption, roof insulation and investment in the energy performance of public housing.
Name a challenge you think fellow cities and project consortium members could help you overcome…
It's not a secret for anyone, our global economy has seen better days. On the other hand, the implementation of our smart cities projects is of vital importance to shape tomorrow's City and we can't possibly delay our investments in NTIC. The real challenge in this context is to clearly identify which projects have the best "cost-benefits for the collectivity" ratio and will make the transition affordable.
Your most ambitious smart city or energy efficiency target?
To become a smart city that involves our citizens in smart city developments, because it would be a failure to build a plan that doesn't reflect what its inhabitants want and who they are.
4 May 2015