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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

Sharing Cities – exclusive interview with Nathan Pierce

“Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.”

At Nordic Smart Cities 2017 there will be 3 different H2020 project showcases, in the latest of our interviews I was lucky enough to catch up with Nathan Pierce from Sharing Cities. Nathan is the Programme Director for the project which has been running since January 2016, he is based in London which is one of the 3 lighthouse cities for the project.

Good morning, Nathan. You are Programme Director for Sharing Cities, can you give us a bit of background on the project? Aims/objectives etc?

The Greater London Authority is the lead organisation in a consortium of 34 European partners called ‘Sharing Cities’. In September 2015 the European Commission (EC) awarded Sharing Cities a grant award to deliver a Horizon 2020 (H2020) Smart Cities and Communities ”Lighthouse” programme. This five-year programme supports the implementation and integration of near-to-market smart city technologies and systems, to maximise their benefit in demonstration areas and prove their replicability across wider city environments. Partners come from across the private, public and community sectors who are working together to deliver solutions in building retrofit, sustainable energy management, shared electric mobility, and public realm infrastructure in the form of smart lampposts.

The project aims to develop, deploy and integrate replicable solutions in the energy, transport, data and ICT sector in each of the three ‘lighthouse’ cities of London, Milan, and Lisbon. A further 3 ‘follower’ cities – Burgas, Bordeaux and Warsaw are actively involved with the three lighthouse cities to validate city service designs and implement a number of specific solutions. A total of €24,988,759 was been awarded by the European Commission (EC) to the consortium to implement a range of measures in each of the ‘lighthouse’ cities. These include:

  1. Smart Lampposts – integrated smart lighting with other smart service infrastructures (eV charge; smart parking; traffic sensing; flow data; WiFi etc);

  2. Shared eMobility – a portfolio of interconnected initiatives supporting the shift to low carbon shared mobility solutions, specifically: eV Car-Sharing; e-Bikes; eV Charging; Smart Parking; eLogistics.

  3. Integrated Energy Management System – implement system to integrate and optimise energy from all sources in districts (and interface with city-wide system); including demand response measures.

  4. Urban Sharing Platform (USP) – manages data from a wide range of sources including sensors as well as traditional statistics; built using common principles, open technologies and standards.

Overall there are 35 partners The physical delivery of these innovations will be in place by the end of 2018, followed by two years of replication and scale-up. The aim is to trigger €500 million in investment engaging with 100 municipalities across Europe and the wider world.

Sharing Cities is now over 18 months into a 5 year project, what progress have you made since the project started?​

The programme started in January 2016 and is therefore one year and nine months into delivery. The first three years of the programme are focused on delivery and the last two years on replication and scale up. We are therefore at a crucial point for the development and implementation of the technology in the three cities. Work has already begun on retrofitting two buildings in Milan, launching a 1400 strong bike sharing scheme in Lisbon and launching an eLogistics scheme in Greenwich. Over the coming year a number of use cases and business models will be created that can be utilised by us to scale up with other cities. We will also be looking to shape the market through aggregating demand with other municipalities, engaging with investors, our involvement with the EIP and by raising the profile of the programme.

The project puts 3 P’s (People, Place & Platform) at the heart of the project, how do you see these three interacting on a practical level?

Smart cities are, at their core, about how we collect, manage and utilise data. People generate data and consume data, places can capture data and use data in their design and the data platform is the architecture through which this all comes together. This leads to more effective service design and delivery for cities.

How easy has it been for you to engage the public in the project thus far? What have you done in order to make sure that they are involved and engaged in the delivery of the project?

Each of the cities has conducted their own engagement process locally and we are also developing a ‘digital social market’, an incentive mechanism by which we can encourage the use and take up of our smart tech by developing a value chain for the tech we are developing. The key messages that have come from citizens is that they want to save money, save time in their commute, have cleaner air to breath and see better investment in well designed public services. These wants are all reflected in the way we have designed our interventions.

Thank you for your time today, Nathan. I look forward to seeing the Sharing Cities project develop over the course of the next 3 years and hope that it stimulates all of the innovation and advancements that you hoped for when conceiving the project. If you would like to find out more about Sharing Cities then you can see Nathan present at Nordic Smart Cities in Stockholm next month –


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