BR SPECIAL! Local municipalities explore development under smart cities principles

Newsroom 08/08/2018 | 14:30

Over 20 cities in Romania have implemented projects under smart city principles, ranging from smart parking, to traffic monitorization and smart metering for utilities, with Alba Iulia developing the largest pilot for smart city development in the country.

By Ovidiu Posirca

There are ongoing investments across the country and Cluj-Napoca, Arad and Sibiu are among the 24 cities that have implemented the most projects, according to the Romanian Association for Smart City and Mobility.

Meanwhile, the Romanian capital has had some pilot projects in smart lighting and traffic management and the municipality commissioned Deloitte to work on Bucharest’s development strategy under smart city are ongoing investments across the country and Cluj-Napoca, Arad and Sibiu are among the 24 cities that have implemented the most projects, according to the Romanian Association for Smart City and Mobility.

“Cities and towns should be the ones that decide when to start the transformation process and ask for the government’s support, meaning that of the team formed at the Ministry of Communication. For this objective, the EU has offered financing that Romania has not yet been capable of really using,” telecom analyst Dr. Nicolae Oaca told BR.

The analyst says that the move to bring broadband to rural communities is also included in the smart development efforts.

The country has an ongoing project called RoNET to connect 700 towns and villages to high-speed internet using EU funding. Oaca says that by increasing broadband coverage, it will be easier for Romania to implement various smart projects related to traffic, lighting, and parking.

Broadband and 5G for smart development

The rollout of 5G wireless technology will also enhance the connection of smart devices, helping the IoT (Internet of Things) era to become a reality. The government said that in 2019 it will organize the first tender for radio spectrum needed to implement 5G technology in Romania.

“In designing a smart city system, it is important to have a perspective image that integrates both the basic components needed now and the prospect of integrating future components for the best scalability,” Bogdan Gavril, sales engineer & trainer, Axis Communications, CEE region, told BR. The company supplies network cameras and video management systems, working on several smart city projects in Romania.

Gavril says that pilot projects in this field are useful because municipalities can understand better what cities’ needs are. For instance, Axis Communication provided equipment for a pilot project in Tulcea measuring traffic flow. The data collected by the municipality included the total number of vehicles in three areas, the average time between vehicles in traffic and the average speed of cars. The video feed went into a database alongside information about the air quality.

The mayor of Alba Iulia, Mircea Hava, told BR in an interview that the pilot project had helped the municipality to build a use case for smart lighting. He says that 33 private companies have joined the project in Alba Iuliua with 80 smart solutions in the testing, operation or planning stages. The estimated value of these projects is EUR 1.5 million.

At present, the economic effects from the implementation of smart projects in Romanian cities are not clear due to insufficient research.

In Alba Iulia, the German engineering conglomerate Siemens estimated that if the city were to invest EUR 227 million in smart technologies, it could reap more than half a billion euros in benefits in 35 years. The payback period for the investment would stand at ten years.

Meanwhile, 78 European cities have undertaken smart city development initiatives and the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (EIP SCC) aims to reach a critical mass of 300 smart cities by the end of 2019, said Andreea Strachinescu, head of unit for new energy technologies, innovation and clean coal at the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Energy, in an interview with Energy Post.

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