Updated: Oct 13
We live in a world of rapid urbanisation and digital transformation, and the future of our cities depends on our ability to harness data and technology for the benefit of all citizens and the environment. European societies are at the forefront of this change, and organisations such as Open & Agile Smart Cities, and AGE Platform Europe in the context of the URBANAGE project, have been working tirelessly to showcase how data governance and technology can accelerate collaboration, digital transformation, and the creation of digital urban ecosystems which drive positive societal impact.
Our recent workshop at the European Week of Regions and Cities entitled "From Interoperable Urban Platforms to Local Digital Twins: Inclusive Tools for Resilient Cities" brought together experts and innovators from these two entities to share their insights and experiences and encourage discussion around three areas of importance. Moderated by our URBANAGE coordinator Roberto Di Bernardo from Engineering and coordinated by Marine Luc from Age Platform Europe, each participant in the session learned about the need for inclusivity in our cities and the important role of digital platforms, before moving round three discussion groups with separate but interrelated themes. This approach enabled delegates to participate in every group which gave everyone a chance to contribute to and learn from others. Key themes in the discussion areas included:
Discussion 1: Inclusiveness, specifically for older people
A recurring theme throughout the discussions was the agreed importance of inclusivity and collaboration. It was emphasised that, as we build these digital urban ecosystems, no one should be left behind including older people who are traditionally disenfranchised. The focus should be on creating cities that cater to the needs of all their residents, regardless of age, ability, or background. The use of simple tools and train the trainer approaches to motivate older residents to participate in shaping urban life was discussed.
Discussion 2: Local Digital Twins for citizens benefit
Participants explored how cutting-edge digital twin technology can be employed to unlock the potential of urban data for citizen good. This group explored use cases related to road quality and finding less polluted routes/areas which enabled them to look at the kinds of data needed. Participants were introduced to Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms (MIMs) which are the building blocks for interoperability, enabling different systems and applications to communicate and share data seamlessly. Additionally, the conversations touched upon the concept of data spaces, which are secure and governed environments for the safe storage and exchange of data. These data spaces are vital for ensuring that urban data is managed ethically and in compliance with privacy regulations.
Discussion 3: Peer learning and sharing of best practice
This discussion explored how people could be encouraged to use digital platforms and even create digital urban ecosystems. In such ecosystems, data is shared, solutions are scaled, and cities collaborate seamlessly. The result is resilient cities that can adapt to the evolving needs of their citizens while promoting sustainability. One of the central themes to emerge was the role of data governance and technology in shaping the future of our cities. Participants emphasized the need for strong data governance frameworks that put the citizen in the centre of all processes and strategies, and allow for secure, ethical, and transparent data sharing with out vendor lock-in. Gamification was also raised as a participation enabler.
This workshop served as a beacon of hope for the future of our cities. As European societies continue to evolve, the tools and concepts discussed in this workshop will play a pivotal role in shaping the cities of tomorrow. They will help us create digital urban ecosystems that are resilient, inclusive, and sustainable, ensuring a brighter future for all citizens.
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