Cities are centres of economic growth, creativity, culture and innovation and are home to an ever increasing urban population. Cities are also producers, consumers, and sources of waste disposal that cause land change and a host of global environmental problems and are highly dependent on other cities and hinterlands to supply materials (including water), energy, and to dispose of waste (Grimm et al. 2008; Bai 2007). The blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources fails to underline the importance of cities as the challenges and solutions regarding sustainable water use, energy and resource recovery will predominantly reside in cities (European green city index 2009; Engel et al. 2011; UN 2012; UNEP 2012). The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (2013) highlights ideas on how to best harness innovative technologies, innovative funding mechanisms and innovative public private partnerships. The Smart Cities EIP highlights actions needed to create the right framework conditions to make our cities better places to live and to do business in, to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and congestion. To date smart cities have principally focused on energy, transport and ICT. However in Horizon2020 Water Challenge 4 it has been carefully noted that water and waste need, as sectors to be integrated within the strategic implementation plan of Smart Cities.
Smart cities can provide local solutions to global issues when cities develop a coherent long-term integrated strategy and implementation plan on transport, energy, ICT, solid waste, climate adaptation (heat islands, urban flooding and water scarcity), water supply and waste water treatment. People in urban environments need green and blue space and healthy, attractive and liveable cities should become the long-term goal for municipal stakeholders in Europe.
Much has been said of local solutions providing the key to global issues. There are examples of successful actions where the involvement of many and varied local stakeholders through the work of municipal and regional administrations has resulted in the direct participation of numerous sectors of society in international issues. These have notably benefited the development of coordinated national and international policy creation, enabled the effective exchange of best practices, the identification of research and development gaps and have resulted in a greater capability for the widening of policy preparation and implementation whilst simultaneously addressing the idiosyncrasies of individual regional issues. The Covenant of Mayors promoted by the European Commission or the LEED programme of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are just two examples of long-term vision mechanisms which have resulted in improved citizen awareness, efficient market growth and essential knowledge transfer mechanisms within the dynamics of a Green Growth Economy.
The project Blueprints for Smart Cities aims to develop the methodology for a coordinated approach to the integration of the water and waste sectors within the 'Smart Cities and Communities' EIP. It will identify synergies in accordance with Smart City ideology and compliment other priority areas such as energy, transport and ICT. It will seek to contribute to the achievement of the 20-20-20 objectives.
Smart cities can provide local solutions to global issues when cities develop a long-term integrated strategy and implementation plan on transport, energy, ICT, solid waste, climate adaptation (heat islands, urban flooding and water scarcity), water supply and waste water treatment. There have been excellent actions where the involvement of local stakeholders coordinated by municipal and regional administrations has resulted in a positive local influence on international issues whilst enhancing science and evidence-based decision making in the field of water. This is the essence of the bottom-up approach. We, as a society are faced with a series of challenges including the increase of the global urban population, competing demands for scarce water resources, resources reduction, and the production of solid waste. In order to provide answers to these crises, and building on the hitherto successful implementation of the EIP Water Action Group: CITY BLUEPRINTS, the current proposal aims to:
- Focus on the need to integrate water and waste into the smart city approach, as defined by the SIP Smart Cities and Communities.
- Ensure improved exchange synergies between researchers and users, decision-makers and consumers, industry, SMEs and national and international authorities.
- Put to practical purpose the CITY BLUEPRINTS project whereby a baseline assessment of the sustainability of water management in a city is produced providing the data required for a practicable planning cycle at all political levels.
- Assess the current situation, produce case studies of four chosen cities, provide tools for integration and implementation, stakeholder engagement and international networking whilst emphasizing the dialogue between different levels of public administration and the different sectors engaged directly or indirectly in the EIP Smart Cities and Communities.
- Produce a Blue City Atlas and a self-assessment baseline assessment tool for water and waste in cities in order to enhance the implementation of European Smart City activities.
- Provide data and formulate sufficient recommendations in order to produce a practical guidance document which will be developed and distributed to relevant stakeholders emphasizing how to support integration between water and waste within the concepts of the Smart Cities SIP.
- Provide recommendations for further research and technological work in a complementary publication and organise practical training courses which will be employed to further demonstrate the need to involve strategic sectors at distinct European Political levels.
- To establish the issues of water and waste within the consciousness of citizens and city governors as a critical Smart City component fostering consensus in the participating cities on developing further the policy orientation of the project, likely to influence the smart cities agenda in the years to come with relation to water and waste.