Romania is facing the era of smart cities

The concept of smart city is new on the Romanian market, so the visibility in the mass-media is still low. Last year, the idea of smart city appeared for about 300 times in connection with Bucharest and 3,000 times on national level. In comparison, the real estate market with all its segments (residential, offices, retail and industrial) has a total media coverage – only for Bucharest – of approximately 30,000 articles.

night city and wireless communication network, IoT Internet of Things and ICT Information Communication Technology concept

We have searched on the Bucharest City Hall website, but we did not find any mention of the smart city concept. Probably the authorities are still thinking about a smart city project. The fact is our city needs to develop in this area. At the moment, Bucharest is ranked 53rd from 60 positions, in what concerns the European Digital City Index. Nevertheless, we also have some assets such as: excellent digital infrastructure, skilled IT people that can bring a valuable input in digitizing our cities (we are ranked on the 8th place on the human resource chart). The segments that has to be improved are: assistance and managerial mentoring, research resources, funds access, lifestyle and market, business environment (the companies has to learn and develop more in the smart city programs department).

You might ask yourselves why is the idea of smart city so important nowadays? The main reason is a less congested traffic, something that we all, especially the inhabitants of Bucharest, desire! Bucharest is the city with the most crowded traffic in Europe and the 5th in the world. The medium delay due to this overcrowded traffic is 50%, calculated on the whole day level. This means that it does not matter at what hour you are driving on Bucharest’s streets, you will still have fifty-fifty chances of being late. When we are talking about rush hours this percentage rises to an alarmingly 90%! The traffic lag increased with 20% from 2011 to 2016. A smart city has to adjust this! Once we have a smart city, we will not have a perfect traffic, that is for sure, but things will get much better.

As a general forecast, the smart city industry is projected to be a $400 billion market by 2020, with 600 cities worldwide. These cities are expected to generate 60% of the world’s GDP by 2025, according to McKinsey research.

In order to align on this positive trend we should take a set of actions, like:

• Awareness campaigns, with an important educational and lobby component

• Explanatory campaigns (in order to understand why we need to become a smart city, people have to know what this concept actually means)

• Attracting more companies in the smart city business

• Developing special projects/ laboratories of innovation in order to find viable solutions for Bucharest’s problems

• Creating an NGO type structure, meant to inform and implement smart city programs. This organism should partner up with the Bucharest City Hall, companies, citizens, other NGO’s etc.

United is a strong advocate on the matter of smart city programs implementation and we will develop our own campaigns in the future!

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