SynchroniCity was presented at the Super City Smart City Forum 2019. The Forum was organised as an official side event of the G20 Meetings in Osaka, Japan and put the digital transformation of cities and communities into the spotlight.

SynchroniCity coordinator, Martin Brynskov, was officially invited by the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Government to present the SynchroniCity project and to share its success story with Japanese stakeholders from public administrations, research, and industry. 

“With the Super City Initiative, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recognised the importance of the digital transformation for cities. His commitment to free flow of data based on trust is a strong signal that digital interoperability has entered the world stage and the SynchroniCity project is at the very forefront of enabling interoperability based on open and minimal mechanisms”, said Martin Brynskov, Coordinator of SynchroniCity and Associate Professor at Aarhus University. “I’m proud to present the results of the hard work of the SynchroniCity team here in Osaka.”

In his keynote address, Brynskov highlighted that open collaboration between cities and minimal interoperability based on open standards are crucial for the success of cities and communities in the digital transformation of public administrations in the 21st century.

According to Brynskov, the three “C”s are leading the way to the scale up of digital solutions that help cities to address common challenges:

  • CIVIC: Driven by public needs, backed by industry 
  • COMMON: Understanding & standards 
  • CONCRETE: Linking instruments (projects, policy, financing, places)

A city that is leading the digital transformation by example is Helsinki. The capital of Finland is both an OASC member city and a SynchroniCity partner, thereby benchmarking the implementation of digital solutions based on minimal interoperability.

Helsinki: The Most Functional City in the World

The city of Helsinki, a front-runner city in many “smart areas” still experiences bumps in the road towards becoming the most functional city in the world. The biggest challenge to achieve this goal is the mindset of the city administration. Concretely, this means the deeply embedded hierarchical and siloed organisation of cities explained Mikko Rusama, Chief Digital Officer of Helsinki, in his keynote address. 

According to Rusama, the most functional city today is able to make the best use of the opportunities provided by digitalisation. That means that digital services offered by cities must be secure, personalised, user-friendly, and provided pro-actively and at the right time. [Slides]

From Local to Global: Sharing Knowledge to Scale Digital Solutions

In his keynote address to the plenary, Stefan Kramer, First Counselor at the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, highlighted that while every city is unique, they face common challenges [Slides]. Therefore, cooperation and sharing knowledge is crucial for the success of 21st century cities.

Kramer presented the European initiatives and projects that aim to support cities & communities in addressing common city challenges together. Among others, he highlighted the role of the European Internet of Things Large-Scale Pilot Programme (IoT LSPs). Kramer specifically highlighted the role of SynchroniCity – hand in hand with the Open & Agile Smart Cities network – towards digital interoperability for data-enabled urban services. 

At the end of the day, two key messages stick: 

  1. Cooperate if you want to be successful
  2. Minimal is key to interoperability

As Stefan Kramer stressed in his keynote speech, cities and communities need to collaborate and cooperate on a national, European and international level to stay on top of rapidly changing technologies and to make the best of the opportunities the digital transformation provides. Kramer highlighted several European and international networks that facilitate cooperation such as the European Committee of the Regions, EUROCITIES, Open & Agile Smart Cities, and the European Network of Living Labs.

At the closing reception of the Super City Smart City Forum 2019, Satsuki Katayama, Special Missions Minister of the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan, concluded that minimal standards of interoperability are needed to achieve digital transformation of our cities. In order for such minimal standards to work, they must be established internationally but based on national collaboration. Minister Katayama highlighted the need for cities to be open and agile, and to include rural communities in the efforts to drive digital transformation.

 

Martin Brynskov, SynchroniCity coordinator