Rising Cities. Smart Future 2023 – Shaping the Urban Landscape for Innovation and Sustainability

Miruna Macsim 04/07/2023 | 14:12

The recent “Rising Cities. Smart Future 2023” event, organized by Business Review, brought together industry leaders, experts, and policymakers to explore the transformative potential of smart cities and discuss the strategies needed to harness their benefits. Panel 1, titled “Transforming cities to create a more sustainable environment and resilient communities,” and moderated by Teodora Tompea, focused on innovation, sustainability, and digitalization, aiming to shed light on the emerging trends and opportunities that lie ahead for urban centers in Romania.

 

Teodora Tompea, News Anchor at Digi24 and a household name in the Romanian journalism scene was the moderator of Panel 1 at the Rising Cities. Smart Future conference organized by Business Review. With extensive experience in news reporting and sustainability, Teodora is the host of the show “Planeta esti tu” (You Are the Planet) and “Focus Europa”.

“From all points of view, there are both needs and things that could be improved. When we talk about a smart city, we want cities to be functional but also visually integrated into a concept. In Bucharest, as well as in other cities, there are buildings that cannot be integrated into the urban landscape in any way.”

 

Bogdan Iliescu, Commercial Director at Nusco Imobiliara: We strive to create communities that provide and cover all aspects of sustainability

Bogdan Iliescu believes in creating sustainable communities that encompass energy efficiency, social responsibility, and an integrated approach.

“We are striving to create communities that provide and encompass all aspects of sustainability, in addition to energy efficiency and social responsibility within communities. The goal is to create an integrated whole and cover as many aspects of sustainability as possible.

I believe that there should always be a multidisciplinary effort between urban planning, energy efficiency technologies, and urban policies. There needs to be a direction that brings together elements that contribute to a common objective. For example, one of the tools that can be used is incentivizing value criteria for both private and public projects regarding the use of existing buildings on the land. Instead of demolishing them, these buildings can be repurposed for their intended functions.”

 

Andrei Botis, President of Romania Green Building Council: A sustainable community blends the harmony between people, technology, and the environment

Andrei Botis underlines the need for investors to allocate budgets to green projects.

“We need as many investors as possible to allocate budgets for such green projects. In Bucharest, there are already a few who are doing this and have achieved profitability accordingly. This motivates the market, and with developers’ intention to make a profit, the face of the city also changes. No matter how much we would like to discuss sustainability, if there is no locomotive pulling in this direction, a locomotive that, of course, needs power and fuel, nothing moves.

As in any real estate investment, the most important thing is the location. If we are talking about an urban regeneration project, this is where the most points can be obtained. Several factors related to location, energy efficiency, air quality, used systems, and waste management during and after construction are examined.

The collective perception reflects only the reality in which that community finds itself. If in the community’s perception, urban regeneration means paving a street, it means that the street is not paved.”

 

Gabriel Almajan, Chief Architect, Timisoara Municipality: It’s time to shift our focus towards our own resources and utilize them to enhance the quality of life

Gabriel Almajan emphasizes the need for smart cities to recognize and leverage their own resources effectively. Rather than solely relying on external models, he advocates shifting attention towards the natural, spatial, and human resources within our cities.

“A smart city should recognize its own resources and leverage them effectively. We have often looked outward, trying to emulate or understand how smart cities function. However, it is time to shift our attention towards the inherent resources of our own cities, whether they be natural, spatial, or human, and strive to utilize them to enhance the quality of life in such cities.

One of the beneficiaries of our policies is the community. We have implemented several projects where consultation methods have been digitized, providing an online platform where public feedback is tracked and incorporated over time. As a result, there is a growing awareness of the value of these working tools. From one debate to another, from one project to the next, we have observed that people are becoming more interested, involved, and bringing forth valuable ideas. It is of utmost importance that funds allocated to any project are efficiently utilized in areas that people perceive as significant. We aim to achieve this efficiently and transform it into an advanced method of continuous consultation.”

 

Ionut Pucheanu, Mayor of Galati: We aspire to have cities that interact seamlessly with their citizens

Ionut Pucheanu highlights the need for sustainable communities and cities that keep up with evolving technology and citizen interactions.

“We tend to label everything as “smart.” We desire communities and cities that are as sustainable as possible, and as cities evolve, we must keep up with technology and our interaction with citizens. Digitalization plays a crucial role in saving resources and efficiently handling tasks in our interactions with citizens. We aspire to have cities that easily engage with their residents and gather the necessary data to make informed decisions. Sensors that monitor daily urban life, smart parking solutions, and devices that facilitate our interactions with one another are all desired.

One of the major challenges at the municipal level is finding ways to incorporate new ideas within existing laws. Without a change in mindset, including the integration of these new concepts into current urban planning, innovative ideas cannot be successfully implemented.

Informative campaigns that explain the concept of “smart” to Romanians and outline the elements included in these concepts would be highly beneficial. Lack of information may lead to unrealistic expectations, which can result in disappointment or setbacks when implementing projects.”

 

Christian Macedonschi, President at Smart City Brasov Association: A smart city should strive to enhance the quality of life for its residents, constantly aiming to provide even more to its citizens

Christian Macedonschi highlights the dynamic nature of technology. He emphasizes that a smart city should prioritize the improvement of residents’ quality of life and continually strive to offer more appealing features.”Technology is constantly advancing. A smart city should prioritize enhancing the quality of life for its residents and always strive to offer more and become attractive. By combining public and private services with modern technology, the city should be livable in all aspects, whether it’s mobility or the environment.

Without good mobility, a city cannot develop. We need to build infrastructure to educate. With well-developed infrastructure, people automatically receive education and adapt. SaaS (Software as a Service) and smart city concepts have emerged. Some companies specialized in smart urban development even provide funding and assess the necessary scale and existing implementations. They bring the latest modern concepts about smart cities and offer valuable services. To keep up with the pace, we need to secure either European or government funds, or find partnerships with these SaaS companies, where an approach can be made.”

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Miruna Macsim | 06/06/2024 | 16:28
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