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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