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Warm welcome for the General Assembly in Umeå

13 March 2018

The third General Assembly of our RUGGEDISED project took place in northern Sweden, in our Lighthouse city of Umeå. Now 18 months into the project, it was a time to get together and reflect on the work done, challenges overcome and ways for the cities to learn from each other.

The meeting started with a welcome reception in the town hall, hosted by Mr Anders Ågren Vice-Mayor of Umeå and Mr Hans Adolfsson Vice-Chancellor of the University of Umeå.

Two days of meetings then took place, going through the updates from each city as well as updates from the different work packages. The Lighthouse cities of Glasgow and Rotterdam both give updates on their solutions regarding energy, E-mobility and ICT solutions. Glasgow spoke of the challenge facing the smart district, with old energy structures that need to be renewed and a population facing fuel poverty, who can barely pay their energy bills. They are also looking at Emoblity and have gained insights from Rotterdam on the topic. They are looking at the best way to implement the needed infrastructures, while promoting behavior change from car users and taxi owners. In Rotterdam, a key challenge has been overcome regarding the smart energy grid solution. The energy provider ENECO has taking over this solution and found a business model that suits the heart of south buildings and could later be replicated in other areas of the cities if successful.

A study visit in the University district was the opportunity to learn more about the solutions implemented in Umeå, regarding energy exchange between buildings, new business models, peak load management as well as the climate-friendly bus stop. We were transported in a local eletric bus, as not everyone is use to the cold temperatures of a northern Swedish winter.

A second part of the visit brought the group to a local heat and energy plant, from RUGGEDISED partner Umeå Energi, a city utility company that produces most of the heat for the city thanks to biofuel.

We also had the chance to get some inspiring discussions and feedback from members of our Advisory board: Mr.Thomas Olofsson, professors in Energy Efficiency at the University of Umea, Mr.Graham Colclouch, smart city adviser and Mr.Arjan van Timmeren, professor of the chair in Environmental Technology & Design at the faculty of Architecture at TU Delft and lead Principle Investigator of the Amsterdam-based Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS).

The second day was the occasion to hear from our Fellow cities, that are closely following the project to plan their own smart districts in the future. The city of Parma talked of the importance of breaking the silos down. They have created the concept of "Parma Futuro Smart" as a participatory process, also connecting it with other projects, and recently launched with a big event in the city. In Brno, they are building a smart agenda by creating a smart city committee. Their launch event gathered 200 people in total 200 people. Their ambitious vision is given them a regional halo and they are inspiring other South Moravian cities to follow their lead. In the city of Gdansk, they are planning their smart district with the aim of providing a high-quality of life for their citizens. The question of floods being a local issue, they are particularly interested in solutions linked to water management.

Among the key topics that emerged from the discussions were the question of the use of data, as well as citizen engagement. In all smart cities, the creation of open data platforms is central and the new GDPR regulation is on everybody's mind. RUGGEDISED is also working hand in hand with the other EU funded smart city projects (SCC01) and the city of Rotterdam will be chairing a joint task force on data management.