The Brussels Smart City strategy
Smart City Office
An important part in the implementation of and follow-up for the Smart City policy in the Brussels-Capital Region is played by Smart City Office, which thus takes on the role of leader.
Smart City Office will be responsible for:
- acting as the first point of contact for answering questions and disseminating information on the Smart City policy of the Brussels Region;
- acting as a centre of knowledge and expertise through which to optimise the acquisition and sharing of knowledge and expertise with all stakeholders in the Quad Helix, through workshops, round tables, regular publications, etc. It also acts as an adviser to the public authorities and government for Smart City Brussels;
- developing a network which will allow the regular meeting of those responsible for Smart City policy within the public administrations in order to promote cooperation and transparency around ‘smart’ initiatives;
- actively encouraging the various administrative authorities to work together, look for synergy and, where necessary, take measures to ensure such cooperation. For instance, appropriate projects will be selected, supported and monitored by Smart City Office;
- ensuring that the Smart City policy objectives are monitored.
The Brussels-Capital Region’s definition of the smart city
For the Brussels-Capital Region, ‘A Smart City is a city which uses smart solutions, based on data and certain technologies, which can lead to improved quality of life in a region’.
Each word of this definition implies key concepts which call for clarification:
The difference between ‘traditional’ solutions and ‘smart’ solutions lies in the new technologies which the latter exploit. For instance, the deployment of a Smart City depends on the existence and development of a reliable and evolving infrastructure comprising, among other things, data sensors, broadband and wireless networks, databases and data centers, end user equipment, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. All these elements together, or even their combination, allow solutions to become smart, such as those conceptualized in the definition of a Smart City.
The second key concept of this definition is data. Data are a primary resource for any Smart City, fueling smart solutions.
A large quantity of data is already generated in Brussels through existing installations, via sensors and detectors measuring traffic flow, for example, or via surveillance cameras.
A Smart City is said to be ‘data driven’, which means that it is ‘oriented around data’. For instance, decisions, changes or municipal intervention are mainly based on the analysis of data and not on the intuition or past experience of decision-makers.
These data must be reliable and of high quality. They must also be described in a structured, formatted manner in order to be analysed and understood by information systems. They must also be standardised so that the various IT systems can understand each other (principle of interoperability). Lastly, and above all, they must be secured through their entire life cycle.
The public services in Brussels are starting to appreciate the importance of data, as reflected for example, in the implementation of the ‘open data’ policy and of the ‘only once’ principle.
QUALITY OF LIFE
The main objective of a Smart City is to improve the quality of life of citizens and businesses. This idea is based on the capacity of a city to meet all the economic, social and environmental challenges confronting it. For our Region, based on existing strategic documents, the challenges relate to demographic expansion, sustainability and respect for the environment, mobility, economic development, employment, training and education and, lastly, the fight against a two-speed city and poverty.
Technologies are not an end in themselves, but rather a tool in the design of the smart city of the Brussels-Capital Region. The digital transition underpins these objectives to create added value for the people of Brussels, both citizens and entrepreneurs. Data play a central role in this.
Finally, Brussels Smart City adopts the model of an integrated city:
- the smart city relies on the involvement and interactions of four categories of players: the public services, citizens, businesses and the academic world (teaching, research), according to the ‘Quad Helix’ principle;
- the smart city is built according to a cross-functional logic: it integrates all dimensions of public action, regardless of which authority (local, regional, community, federal) is responsible for it.
In concrete terms, the Brussels-Capital Region considers the smart city as an innovation and local participation platform
where the public sector, the academic world, private interests and citizens can meet and engage in an exchange to generate new value and cooperate and create together. The Brussels Region Informatics Centre
contributes to this model through its platforms pooling ICTs for public services.
What is the aim of Brussels Smart City?
The aim for Brussels Smart City is to have a measurable impact on all indicators which define quality of life, for both citizens and businesses. Potential smart solutions will, among other things, be chosen for how they help to improve the performance of these indicators.
The achievement of this aim is based on six pillars which represent the six policy fields identified by Brussels Smart City. Each of them comprises projects which, through their progressive implementation in Brussels, will make it possible to achieve the aim.
These pillars are based on basic elements or catalysts for a ‘Smart City’. The basic elements (data, technologies, governance, cooperation and human capital) are the necessary conditions for project implementation.