The SynchroniCity partners came together in Antwerp, Belgium, for the midterm review of the project on 27-28 September. The consortium gathered for two intense but rewarding days in the impressive city archives – Felixpakhuis – where the old secrets of Antwerp are stored, couples usually celebrate their wedding and Horizon 2020 projects occasionally hold their meetings.
The review brought everyone together to examine and showcase the contributions of all partners and work packages. The team particularly focused on the development of the technical framework and the tremendous cooperation between the eight core partner cities. The partner cities – also called ‘reference zones’ – were joined by the follower cities Bordeaux, France, and Seongnam, South Korea.
Cities Forum: Bringing the Cities Closer Together
Leading up to the review, the cities gathered for the Cities Forum meeting on a weekly basis. Geoffrey Stevens and Darren Pangbourne of Future Cities Catapult have been guiding the regular meetups. When interest in the open call entered the hot phase, the recurring discussion provided a great platform for the cities to share their knowledge, discuss doubts, and connect applicants to the right city partners:
“One of the main strengths of the Synchronicity project is the fact that it’s a demand-side driven project, which means that cities are the main driver for developing innovative solutions for citizens’ daily life challenges. In this context, SynchroniCity’s Cities Forum meetings are key for allowing cities in the consortium to discuss and share experiences, and to find a strategy for common problems”, said Paulo Calcada, CEO of Porto Digital.
Of Pieces and Puzzles
The preliminary outcomes of the open call demonstrate clearly that the hard work and great collaboration have paid off.
Martin Brynskov, Coordinator of the SynchroniCity project said: “The review was a great venue to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together and to demonstrate the excellent work of all partners. Everyone – from the technical partners to the cities – is ready for the pilots that we are now selecting from the open call. The first part was build-up, now the fun begins.”
The two days not only proved that the collaboration among the cities and the rest of the partners is strong, but demonstrated that the consortium is ready and the links are well in place to welcome new communities on board. Nikolaos Kontinakis, Senior Project Coordinator of EUROCITIES and member of the advisory board of SynchroniCity, who was also present during the review, highlighted the excellent cooperation between SynchroniCity and EUROCITIES. He said:
“Seven EUROCITIES members work in the Synchronicity project with OASC, AIOTI [Alliance for IoT Innovation], standardisation organisations, technology providers and the European Commission to tackle these challenges. This amplifies joint work of the last three years and drives the pursuit of the minimum common set of specifications and standards that will make the open and demand-driven smart city market a reality.”
From Europe with Love (and Open Source)
Now is the time to keep up the good spirit and cooperation not only among the cities, but all team members. The Cities Forum created a solid basis during the open call. Now we have to build on it together. This will be crucial for a successful implementation of the winning pilots across the SynchroniCity reference zones.
The SynchroniCity team, together with experienced external reviewers, are now evaluating the 133 applications that we have received during the open call. Only 15 to 20 of them will get the chance to roll out their services in at least two of the eight partner cities – Antwerp, Carouge, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Manchester, Milan, Porto, and Santander – and the rest of the world (Yes, you read correctly. We’re ready to conquer the world). The winning applications will be announced at the end of November with pilots starting in February 2019.
About the Authors
Kata Börönte supports the coordination of SynchroniCity at Aarhus University. Based in Denmark, originally from Hungary, she is a big fan of everything Nordic, including Aarhus, Scandinavian design and even the daily supply of rain.
Lea Hemetsberger is Communications & Project Manager at Open & Agile Smart Cities and supports the SynchroniCity Comms’ team. Originally from Germany, but working in Brussels for three years, she quickly fell for deep fried food, Belgian beers, and massive EU-funded smart city projects.