Umeå University improves our knowledge on energy management in buildings

11 September 2021

Umeå University has been a committed RUGGEDISED partner since the beginning of the smart cities project and continues to expand on the scientific basis for energy management in buildings. The latest part of this work is the PhD dissertation entitled ‘A multi-method assessment to support energy efficiency decisions in existing residential and academic buildings.’

The dissertation was written by Shoaib Azizi, Department of Applied Physics and Electronics at Umeå University.

Lisa Redin, the university’s coordinator for RUGGEDISED, explains: 

"As a university, we have considered it important that our researchers' cutting-edge expertise is used and contributes to development. Thomas Olofsson, Gireesh Nair and Shoaib Azizi from the energy efficiency group at the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics have been involved in the entire project and have developed and refined our measurement methods as well as analysed all the data that has been collected in our sub-project Demand Side Management. Five master's theses have also been generated in the project," she says

With Demand Side Management — or presence-controlled energy and property use — it is possible to control ventilation, heating, cooling and lighting to actual needs with the added benefit of being able to reduce the university's energy use and climate impact. Sensors can measure the presence, movement patterns and various indoor environment parameters and generate data allowing better and more precise energy models. With the help of the new solutions, security and service can also be strengthened in some places.

Shoaib Azizi says about his dissertation: 

"A rapid reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from buildings and our cities is crucial in the energy transition required to reduce the pace of climate change and limit global temperature increase," he says and continues:

"Energy efficiency is decided and managed in different ways for different types of buildings, in different contexts, which in turn entails different challenges and opportunities. Consequently, it is necessary to understand the importance of choosing appropriate strategies and designing effective support measures to achieve increased energy efficiency."

Brno (CZ) offers investment possibilities in Smart City district

30 August 2021

The City of Brno is revitalising its Špitálka District by transforming the unused western part of the oldest heating plant in Brno city into a modern, smart and sustainable neighbourhood. The project design seeks to breathe new life into the area, offering benefits to residents and creative entrepreneurs alike. With a master plan in hand, Brno is busy brainstorming different scenarios for a critical step in the smart district’s journey to fruition: financing.

The master plan

“The master plan focuses on making Špitálka liveable and workable, meaning the district should include everything to satisfy its future citizens and office workers. We will have event sites, offices and recreational houses all done in a sustainable and smart manner,” explains Lukas Gruza, Brno’s RUGGEDISED city manager. 

According to the plan, the interior of the plant’s cooling tower has been reimagined as a space for companies to present their businesses and for locals to hold activities. Meanwhile, the roof will serve as a scenic viewpoint. 

As chronicled on the Špitálka website, all of this work is anchored in the Municipality's #Brno2050 Strategy and supported by the Horizon 2020 project RUGGEDISED.

Opportunity to invest

The City of Brno is taking decisive steps toward accelerating the smart city model through sustainable, innovative solutions that improve the local environment and citizens’ quality of life.

 And now it’s actively looking for investors who wish to do the same.

“We are looking not only for a developer, but for a strategic long-term partner, someone who would stay in the area for at least 30-50 years and, together with the city, will be responsible for the management and viability of the district,” says Yuliya Ostrenko, Locality Manager of the Špitálka District.    

The project plans to conduct a verification study that will bring together expert recommendations regarding the master plan proposal, in addition to determining the parameters for construction and investment. This investment opportunity could become quite a competitive one, as the district is located at the centre of this dynamic city.

Galvanising action

The work to re-develop Špitálka has taken place on many levels, and Brno’s councillor Filip Chvatal even visited RUGGEDISED Lighthouse Rotterdam to gather inspiration for future projects and consult with experts as the Heart of South neighbourhood currently benefiting from RUGGEDISED solutions – such as smart charging parking lots and intelligent street lighting – has similarities with the Špitálka District in Brno. A meet & greet with his Rotterdam colleague, Arno Bonte, completed councillor Chvatal’s trip:

“This visit was very effective; we were able to see for ourselves what has been already realised within [the] Heart of South since the start-up phase some years ago,” he said at that occasion.

The City of Brno hopes to launch the investor competition for the Špitálka District soon. It looks forward to building partnerships that will lead to progress and that will help the city set an example for the Czech Republic, and beyond, with its ambitious smart district project.

Photo: A8000

Parma showcases connection between finance, industry and sustainability

24 August 2021

From July 5th – 11th, 2021 Parma hosted the annual ‘Green Economy Festival’, an event that since 2011 has showcased thematic discussions, projects, and players related to the green economy.

This year’s edition of the festival placed a spotlight on climate change, renewable energy sources, urban regeneration, and sustainable fashion and tourism models. Parma brought together leading financial institutions, actors, and businesses whose work focuses on sustainability. With 150 speakers, 40 sessions, and 50 entrepreneurs completing the dynamic programme of events, the week was filled with important discussions related to food supply chains, green chemistry, sustainable mobility and transport, as well as a tour dedicated to highlighting ‘Sustainable Factories’ in Italy.

Fostering economic resilience through sustainability

The city of Parma was delighted to welcome the participation of the President of the Emilia Romagna Region, mayors, business leaders, economists and representatives from key local institutions such as Annalisa Sassi, President of the Parma Union of Industrialists, Paolo Andrei, Dean of the University of Parma, Alessandro Chiesi, President of Parma Io Ci Sto!, and Federico Pizzarotti, the Mayor of Parma.

The festival provided an exceptional opportunity to begin answering difficult questions such as: Will it be possible to travel with zero emissions in the future? Can we reduce the presence of chemicals in agriculture? How can we handle large fluctuations in global tourism that are growing as countries are better able to cope with the pandemic? Can fashion ever be truly sustainable? What impact will sustainability have on the world of finance?

Smart city for a smart, sustainable economy

A fundamental part of designing smart cities that can address these challenges in a sustainable and inclusive way involves a deep examination of the critical role that finance and economy have to play in fostering resilient, sustainable solutions. As a RUGGEDISED fellow city, Parma seeks to inspire decisive change in the behaviour of its citizens, institutions and businesses. Mirroring the themes of the Green Economy Festival, it aims to do so by hosting important conversations that encourage innovative ideas on topics like green chemistry, smart mobility, transport, renewable energy, circular economy, and more.

Parma Futuro Smart is living up to its role as a RUGGEDISED fellow city by participating in the organisation of events like the Green Economy Festival which can be replicated in similar-sized cities across Europe. The city of Parma is proud to have hosted such an influential event and looks forward to spearheading more in the future.


The Green Economy Festival was promoted in Italy by the ItalyPost in partnership with the Symbola Foundation and the Corriere della Sera. The event was organised in collaboration with the European Commission and the support of Lago e Crédit Agricole and Gazzetta di Parma.

The programme was developed thanks to the Festival’s scientific committee, chaired by Ermete Realacci, the President of the Symbola Foundation, and the promoters of the ‘Manifesto di Assisi.’

Adapted from the article ‘Green Week’ (in Italian):

RUGGEDISED recommits to scaling up smart solutions through European partnership

18 August 2021

The new SCALE partnership’s first event, taking place on the 1st and 2nd of July 2021, was used to underscore Lighthouse projects re-commitment to the Smart Cities Manifesto. In addition, it was a Joint event representing four H2020 Lighthouse smart city projects — Smarter Together, Replicate, Sharing Cities and SmartEnCity — that have recently ended or are about to.

The two-day event, with participation from a number of senior representatives from smart city projects, city governments, financiers, industry and the European Commission, was full of presentations, fruitful discussions, inspirational keynotes, knowledge sharing and joint recommendations.

Throughout the 16 sessions, the Lighthouse projects and SCALE showcased how parties should work together to make all of Europe climate neutral by 2050, discussed what kind of financing would be necessary for future innovative projects, highlighted joint collaboration, and took on board recommendations for the replication of solutions in more and more cities across Europe.

New Manifesto of collaboration

With the knowledge that working together is key to becoming a smart city, RUGGEDISED joined its 17 sister projects from the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse initiatives to sign a renewed Manifesto of Collaboration. The Manifesto had projects dedicate themselves to scaling up their pilots and to helping other cities implement innovative solutions in Europe.

The four projects that are ending hosted a thematic session broadcast from their respective studios in the Lighthouse cities of Sonderbog (DK), San Sebastián (ES), London (UK) and Lyon (FR).

The two-day conference was the first large event organized by the SCALE initiative. SCALE is a city-led initiative that provides extensive, long-term support for cities and projects involved in the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse Group (SCC-LG). SCALE was created with the aim to serve as a unifying element: networking and connecting all Lighthouse projects that are trying to improve their overall performance, in addition to enhancing the significance of the SSC-LG Group.

If you were unable to attend some of the sessions you can visit SCALE’s YouTube account. You can also stay in touch with its activities and upcoming events on social media: Twitter or LinkedIn.

Read: Collaborative approach as Rotterdam realises smart city solutions

16 July 2021

In the Heart of South, Rotterdam collaboration continues to foster innovation as the new Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) recently finished installing 5,200 solar panels on its roof – the results of a fruitful partnership with the Energy Utility ENECO and Rotterdam Municipality.

While this investment in renewable energy is undoubtedly impressive, it is not unique in a district that is rapidly developing a name for itself as a nucleus of smart city experiments and solutions.

Read more about the cooperation through Sustain Europe.


Smart urban development starts from the top - and the bottom

26 May 2021

To succeed with radical innovation paving the way for more sustainable cities, smart city projects require experienced professionals, partnerships and financing for their solutions. But efficient operations are not enough. To truly transform urban areas, project developers must also align with city-planning and integrate with the strategic ambitions of the municipality, new reports from the RUGGEDISED project shows.

The concept of bottom-up or top-down initiatives are well known in cities and other organisations around the world, but for the cities of the future — smart and sustainable — both approaches must be taken in unison with an embedding of the bottom-up efforts into an organisation guided by clear top-down visions. That is one of several conclusions coming out from the European project RUGGEDISED in a series of new reports.

Adriaan Slob, Senior Researcher at TNO Strategy and Policy, who co-wrote reports based on lessons learned in the three Lighthouse Cities of the RUGGEDISED project: Rotterdam, Glasgow and Umeå, explains why the importance of looking at the full picture is such a key conclusion:

“Smart projects are essentially about innovation in urban areas, and for that to happen the entire city ecosystem must pull in the same direction. No single actor has the capacity to fully understand the entire system with all its complexity, problems and challenges, and that makes the cooperation so important” he says.

In total, the EU funded project has produced four guides in which partners provide useful, step-by-step lessons, to tackle frequent urban innovation challenges. These guides include:

A series of three reports dealing with cross-city learning on implementation and innovation in the lighthouse cities have also been published as part of the RUGGEDISED project. Find all the reports at

Parma enters new phase of Smart City efforts

4 May 2021

The final event of the project Parma Futuro Smart was held earlier this year ending a process started in 2017 within the framework of RUGGEDISED.

During the event, the City of Parma presented the four strategic projects that are part of the ‘Parma Smart City’ action plan:

  • the creation of PEDs ( Positive Energy Districts), or a vision of sustainable urbanization based on a new model of energy production and consumption;
  • the development of an integrated data platform for the management of the city in real time;
  • the energy and digital transition of businesses;
  • the strengthening of the business acceleration chain to encourage the growth of start-ups for innovation and the competitiveness of the area.

The meeting was opened with greetings from Tiziana Benassi - Councillor for Sustainability Policies of the Municipality of Parma, who welcomed all the participants and highlighted the idea behind; to make cities smart, inclusive and sustainable.

The Councillor referred to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development approved in September 2015 by the United Nations, which contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 secondary targets for sustainable development that have a single common denominator: to end extreme poverty.

The Councillor emphasized how the word smart is the pivot of all new projects and how technology must be the means, not a purpose in itself, to create better lives for citizens.

Michele Alinovi, Councillor for buildings, public works and town planning, supported the importance of the development of a smart city strategy combined with sustainability and energy retrofit projects.

Parma, is one of the fellow cities of RUGGEDISED and in addition to developing skills and design ideas through the exchange with the lighthouse cities, it is also committed to building the smart city of 2050 and is drafting a roadmap and an investment plan to implement concrete smart city projects.

The role of the Municipality in the project was exemplified by the engineer Marco Mordacci who, shared an overview of the RUGGEDISED project with the participants. The Parma Futuro Smart Action Plan was introduced by Dr. Cristina Pellegrini who illustrated the four project proposals that have been defined in greater detail within the working groups with stakeholders.

Mario Gualdi and Daniel Cassolà of ISINNOVA, the Replication Lead in RUGGEDISED, presented the next steps of the project and gave perspectives on the work done within Parma Futuro Smart also at European level, particularly in regards to the mission of "100 Climate Neutral Cities ” from the European Commission. The mission foresees the involvement of 100 cities chosen by the European Union to support the European goal of achieving carbon neutrality on the continent in 2050. The cities involved will be directed to European funding and programs to reach this ambitious target, and the results monitored annually by the Commission.

Councillor Benassi closed the event by pointing out two key words from the virtual meeting: "ambition" and "synergy". These words are also front and centre in the recently signed ‘Carbon Neutrality Parma’ Alliance between the Emilia Romagna Region, the Province of Parma, the Municipality of Parma, Parma University and other local stakeholders.

This article is translated and shortened from Italian, find the original here

Rotterdam wins UNESCO Netexplo award for its RUGGEDISED-supported ‘datasphere’

21 April 2021

The City of Rotterdam was recognized with an award at the UNESCO Netexplo Linking Cities Forum in the ‘Datasphere’ Category with the jury highlighting how "Rotterdam is a digital pioneer city on the national and European stage.” 

When accepting the award, Deputy Mayor for Economy Roos Vermeij said:

“It is a great confirmation that we as a city are on the right track. The ambition is for Rotterdam to be a digital model city by 2025. A city that is at the forefront of the use of digital solutions for social, physical and economic challenges. Digitization helps us to achieve our ambitious goals in the field of sustainability, circularity and inclusivity.”

RUGGEDISED was explicitly mentioned in the explanation of the award to Rotterdam and is used to illustrate how the Urban Data Platform of the city constitutes the backbone of Rotterdam’s digital transformation.

RUGGEDISED’s Project Coordinator Albert Engels, from the City of Rotterdam, explains: 

“The digital journey of Rotterdam is constantly evolving and is a product of great partnerships. We stay connected within the municipality, with our citizens, businesses and research, and with other dedicated cities and initiatives all throughout Europe, for example through RUGGEDISED,” he says.    

Dive deeper into the award: 

Watch the ‘acceptance video’ from Rotterdam below


Open Urban Data Platforms can support smarter cities

14 January 2021

A new report from the Erasmus University Rotterdam that studies how eighty cities are organizing data assets using state-of-the-art data platforms, highlights the possible benefits cities can reap by establishing urban data platforms.

The report which aspires to support cities in their implementation of Urban Data Platforms has been published by the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics, the flagship centre of excellence on data, AI and digitalization belonging to the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The report studies more than eighty European Cities and recommendations are given on how to develop city platforms capable of connecting city data assets and essential information via urban digital twins for city management and innovation.

The underlying study was funded by the Horizon 2020 project RUGGEDISED and supported by the European Commission’s Smart Cities Marketplace. It details the multitude of paths a city can take to build a platform capable of enabling integrated data flows via open standards within and across city systems. The developed platform will therefore ensure interoperability among platforms and data sources and create one marketplace for city data assets, in which varying types of data can be combined as a basis for new value creation.

Dr Marcel van Oosterhout, Associate Executive Director at the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytic and Expert in Urban Data Platforms, explains:

“This report can guide policymakers and business innovators in designing and building digital platforms of great benefit to their cities. A mature, resilient and trusted Urban Data Platform can support policy-making, be the basis for citizen engagement, and provide a platform for triple helix collaboration and startups to innovate based on data”.

While compiling data for the report, Erasmus University Rotterdam was supported by a wider community of Smart Cities funded by Horizon 2020, known as “Lighthouses” and by RUGGEDISED project cities Rotterdam, Glasgow and Umeå. Drawing on the extensive experience of these cities and engagement with 80+ practitioners via a questionnaire and case studies, the report is potentially the most extensive publication to date on publicly-funded urban data platforms. It can be found on the website.

On January 29, 10:00-11:30 CET, the report will be presented at a webinar on Urban Data Platforms hosted by ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability and the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics. Also in attendance will be representatives from Umeå, Rotterdam, and London, who will share insights from Horizon 2020 projects, as well as representatives from Hafen University, who will represent their work in the Action Fund. You can sign up at

Umeå smart solution nominated for ‘Design of the year’ at London Design Museum

26 October 2020

The Station of Being, an innovative bus station at Umeå University created as part of the EU funded RUGGEDISED project, has been nominated for the Beazley Designs of the Year 2020 award, which is presented by the London Design Museum. The Station of Being is one of three nominees in the transport category.

- This is really big. Just being nominated for such a great award is a feather in the cap, both for those who have worked with the stop's creation and design, but also for Umeå municipality, that want to invest in this type of innovative and innovative solutions, says Carina Aschan, development strategist at Umeå municipality and City Coordinator of the RUGGEDISED project.

The London Design Museum writes, among other things, that the Station of Being with its welcoming and de-stressing environment encourages travellers to use public transport more often. The stop's smart roof uses light and sound to tell travellers when a bus is approaching and each bus line has its own unique sound. The wooden pods hanging down from the roof rotate automatically to protect travellers from the weather and to create opportunities for human interaction.

The ‘Station of Being’ was inaugurated a year ago and is deemed to have functioned well since. The innovate design, in which audio and light intermingle combined with the separation of waiting zone and boarding zone enables a faster boarding and thus contributes to saving energy for the electric buses in the oftentimes cold climate.

The bus stop, which is part of the RUGGEDISED project, was designed by the Dutch designer Rombout Frieling in collaboration with the research institute RISE, Umeå.

The Beazley Designs of the Year 2020 competition will be decided by a voting procedure that runs until 10 November. A prize jury then decides who will be the winners in the various categories, as well as the winners of the competition as a whole.

Carina Aschan says that the Station of Being attracts a lot of attention in the municipality's international network. There have been several booked visits from cities around Europe, including representatives of the RUGGEDISED Fellow city of Gdansk in Poland, which already visited to find inspiration for the development of their public transportation network.

Jeroen Peeters, senior design researcher at RISE Sweden, who worked on the development of Station of Being, believes that the London Design Museum is right in its assessment.

- The award jury really confirms the image we ourselves have that the design gives the traveller time to just be and that it provides protection from the weather and wind, while giving a face to the modern and sustainable public transport of the future, says Jeroen Peeters.

Read more about the award nomination

Vote for the Smart Solution ‘Station of Being’.