Unlocking the digital potential of EU smart communities

Helpdesk EOI
23 May 2024

The European Commission is calling on cities and communities across the EU to express their interest in the Online Procurement Helpdesk for Smart Communities. This forward-thinking initiative is designed to support cities in advancing their digital maturity, particularly those in the early stages of digital transformation. By participating, communities will gain access to a comprehensive suite of benefits aimed at catalysing digital development and enhancing technological readiness.

Why join?

The Online Procurement Helpdesk offers tailored support and consultancy services to guide cities through the development and realisation of their digital strategies. Participants will receive online advisory services to help assess their technological readiness for implementing MIM-compliant local data platforms.

Kavala is one of the first cities that have tested the programme. "Kavala’s participation equipped the city with a comprehensive assessment of its current IT infrastructure's maturity, a tailored digitalisation roadmap, and strategic guidance on its procurement needs," stated Charalampos Papadopoulos, Director of Planning, Development and Digital Services in Kavala, about the programme, highlighting the focus on open standards and interoperability requirements.

Tailored roadmaps and strategies

Moreover, each city will benefit from a customised digitalisation roadmap, which provides detailed guidance on necessary initiatives and procurement requirements to enhance technical capabilities. This initiative also focuses on identifying procurement needs and technical capacities to align with the MIMplus framework, ensuring compliance with the latest EU regulations and facilitating seamless integration for cities and technology companies.

"Our participation allowed us to conduct a profound diagnosis of our current situation. The support and professionalism of the project teams have been impeccable," said Antonio Frances, Mayor of Alcoy, alongside Pedro Ramiro, Smart City Technician, and Joan Gisbert, Innovation Agent. "We have greatly enjoyed the exchange of ideas on topics such as interoperability and system security."

Joining forces and working together

One of the key advantages of joining this initiative is the opportunity to participate in a European peer network that pioneers the advancement of local data platforms and AI-powered digital twins. This network not only enhances visibility but also allows cities to share best practices, successes, and failures, leveraging collective learnings for mutual benefit.

Carmen Lavado, Head of Digital Services and Technologies in Sant Boi de Llobregat, emphasised how the pilot helped assess their digital maturity level, noting, "Participating in this pilot has helped us assess our digital maturity level and understand the necessary steps to bring digital twins to life."

The vendor-neutral and technology-agnostic architectural designs based on open standards provide strategic guidance that ensures interoperability and system security. "Being a pilot within the Local Digital Twin Toolbox has allowed us to benchmark our maturity and align our Digital Twin initiatives across departments," acknowledged Stefan de Smet, CIO in the City of Ghent.

The initiative is part of the broader Digital Europe Programme, which aims to accelerate digital maturity across urban and rural communities in the EU. It specifically targets cities and communities that are at early stages of digitalisation or those in the scaling phases, providing them with access to essential digital tools and expertise available within the EU.

How to participate?

For cities interested in joining, the deadlines for application are as follows. Phase 1, covering April 2024 to August 2024, has a deadline of 17 June 2024, while Phase 2, spanning August 2024 to May 2025, requires applications by 24 March 2025. The estimated duration for procurement services is approximately six weeks, depending on when a city is invited to participate.

Cities with over 20,000 inhabitants are encouraged to take part in this pioneering initiative, which represents a significant step towards ensuring that digital technology is accessible to all EU communities, fostering growth and innovation across the continent.

For more information and to express your interest, please click here.

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