Empowering Smart Cities – Approaches to Action for European Networking (#connectedinEurope)
The Project (#connectedinEurope)
The European Green Deal and the Digital Europe Programme will play a central role in the implementation of European regulations and the design of funding instruments in the coming years. This requires a European exchange of institutional stakeholders and municipalities on how the digital transformation can help achieve the goals of sustainable, integrated and common good-oriented urban development at European and national level.
The project addresses the pronounced need for the structured bundling of “digital transformation and urban development” processes and for supporting the participation of (small and medium-sized) municipalities in European networks, including projects and initiatives on digital transformation. Networking not only provides municipalities with knowledge transfer on innovative and best practices beyond their borders, but also facilitates resilient partnerships, collegial advice and opportunities for expert-centred exchange on replicable projects. To this end, the project systematically explores and supports municipalities’ participation in European networks, projects and initiatives.
Core activities in the project are the qualification and empowerment of German and European municipalities for networking. With this aim in mind, the project team provides the municipalities with practical instruments, peer-based learning and specialist workshops to build and consolidate their own networking activities. At the same time, the project develops national and European networks on digitisation and urban development and promotes networking between the ministries responsible for urban development and digitisation, as well as institutional stakeholders at EU level and established networks and initiatives.
You can find all #connectedinEurope events in our overview
At the core of the project are the information, training and empowerment of German municipalities for European networking. To this end, cities will be provided with practical instruments and knowledge in the form of peer learning and specialist workshops in order to promote and consolidate their own activities in networks in the short and long term. At the same time, structures for exchange on digitalisation and urban development are being established at national level, as there is considerable potential for knowledge transfer here. This potential is to be tapped in regular workshops through a structured exchange by promoting networking between the ministries responsible for urban development and digitisation as well as institutional actors at EU level and established networks and initiatives.
The Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) provides support for the project. #connectedinEurope runs until December 2024 and is being contracted by adelphi, the German Institute of Urban Affairs (difu) and Steinbeis 2i GmbH.
Kick Off Conference #connectedinEurope 2022
On 10 February 2022, the conference ‘#connectedinEurope: Funding, networking and best practices
for Smart Cities’ took place. This conference marked the official launch of the #connectedinEurope
project. During the event, 280 participants learned about European networking opportunities in the
field of Smart Cities, about existing European opportunities in the framework of Digital Europe and
actively participated in the three parallel sessions on ‘Current EU Digital Strategies and Regulations’,
‘Stronger together: The case of European Networks’ & ‘EU Funding and Programmes’.
Find here the agenda to the conference.
Read more! (English summary and access to presentations)
The event is organised by the German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development.
If you have any questions regarding the conference, please contact: connectedineurope.
Peer-learning-partnerships: Six partnerships for a knowledge transfer on the topic of sustainable and digital urban development/smart cities have been selected!
Networking on the topic of sustainable and digital urban development allows direct exchange between municipal partners, deepens the understanding of common challenges, facilitates the identification of potential solutions, enables the transfer of knowledge and know-how and strengthens the motivation to act.
In order to achieve these goals, the project team #connectedinEurope launched a Call for Participation for German and other European municipalities. From 2 December 2021 to 25 February 2022, municipalities could apply to participate in six peer learning partnerships on the topic of digital urban development/smart cities.
A number of interested municipalities applied. Unfortunately, not all applications could be considered. The six selected peer learning partnerships are:
Sofia (Bulgaria) – Krefeld (Germany)
Arezzo (Italy) – Hamm (Germany)
Vari Voula Vouliagmeni (Greece) – Geestland (Germany)
Utrecht (Netherlands) – Munich (Germany)
Alba Iulia (Romania) – Arnsberg (Germany)
Bolesławiec (Poland) – Pirna (Germany)
The six peer-learning-partnerships are now entering into an intensive exchange of experiences and will generate new knowledge and know-how as well as expand and consolidate their networking activities in the course of the project activities. Ideally, they will develop joint cooperation projects. They will be accompanied by the project team (adelphi and the German Institute of Urban Affairs).
The first virtual kick-off meeting will take place on May 17, 2022. There, the participating cities will have the opportunity to learn more about the project and the peer-learning-process as such. They will get to know their partner municipalities and other participants and lay together the foundation for their future collaboration and the first on-site working meetings planned for the summer as well as for the second half of the year.
Peer-learning partnerships: 12 European municipalities set out on a 2.5-year experience of knowledge transfer and networking on the topic of sustainable digital urban development
On May 17, 2022, the virtual kick-off meeting for peer learning partnerships took place. This event marked the official start of the Peer-Learning Partnerships within the #connectedinEurope-project.
At the event, 26 municipal representatives from 12 participating cities learned about the specifics of the project and the framework for the peer-learning exchange. They got to know their partner municipalities and other participants, learned about each other’s challenges and priorities for action in the field of sustainable digital urban development/smart cities.
In addition, the partner cities laid the groundwork for their future collaboration, and defined the thematic priorities for their first on-site working meetings, which are scheduled for the summer as well as the second half of the year. The range of collected partnership topics is broad and promising: from cultural heritage, smart mobility, energy monitoring and smart water systems to data ethics and literacy, data infrastructure, civic engagement and participation, waste management, circular economy and more. During the next approx. 2.5 years, the municipalities will benefit from the close knowledge transfer with their partner cities, expand their networks and participate in accompanying activities of the #connectedinEurope-project.
The agenda of the event is available and the summary report takes stock of the contributions and views of the participants.
The event was organised by adelphi and the German Institute for Urban Affairs (Difu) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development.
For questions about the event, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Networking workshop for municipalities
1st Networking workshop formunicipalities in Leipzig, Germany
Almost 50 European city representatives from Belgium, Germany, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Ukraine discussed the challenges in their municipal administrations on site and virtually. Presentations of good practices and valuable impulses for the implementation of digital projects came from Espoo, Leipzig and Reykjavik. Afterwards, the participants exchanged views on internal and external administrative processes and challenges in the context of smart city governance for sustainable and integrated urban development. While one group dealt with the internal administrative challenges for urban planners and smart city project managers in digitalisation in urban development – for example in relation to data platforms, data collection and internal communication – another group discussed the various possibilities of (digital) citizen participation in urban development.
Further alliances were formed among the participants after the meeting to exchange ideas on the next steps in the development and implementation of digital strategies and projects.
The documentation, agenda of the event and presentation of the project #connectedineurope are uploaded.
The #connectedinEurope project offers cities the opportunity to network on a European level on topics related to digital urban transformation and to explore these topics in depth in web seminars.
In December 2022, activities were held one in German and one in English for the following topics:
German: Selected EU funding opportunities for cities & municipalities, on December 6, 2022, organized by Steinbeis 2i GmbH;
English: City follows data – How municipalities develop their strategy in the age of data on December 7, 2022, organized by the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu).
Selected EU funding opportunities for cities & municipalities (Digital Europe, EDIH, NetZeroCities), in German.
First, the EU funding program “Digital Europe” was presented, as it focuses on making digital technologies accessible to companies, citizens and public administrations. In addition to the structure and framework conditions of the program, individual calls for project submissions were also presented. These calls for proposals provide the thematic framework to which project consortia can apply with solution concepts. For example, project calls for proposals on data storage in the area of mobility and the Green Deal are expected.
Work programme: Reference Documents (europa.eu)
The “European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH)” funded in the Digital Europe program showcase future opportunities to support companies – especially startups, SMEs and midcaps – and public institutions in their digital transformation at regional level. The EDIHs thus form a network of 200 European digital innovation hubs and start their support in 2023. We will publish more information on this.
Further information: DIH Catalogue – European DIGITAL SME Alliance, EDIH catalogue.
The most extensive EU funding program is Horizon Europe. It is considered the most important EU funding program for research and innovation. In the web seminar, a special focus was placed on the area of “Digitization, Industry and Space” (Cluster 4), specifically on calls in the topic area of “World-leading data and computing technologies“. Cities and municipalities are particularly in demand in project calls when it comes to strategy developments or even pilot applications.
Link to the new work programs for clusters 1-6 published on December 6, 2022, updated on xx, 2023:
Reference Documents (europa.eu)
The instrument of Missions represents a novelty in the research and innovation program Horizon Europe. They are intended to find and implement concrete solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Of the five missions, the Mission “100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030” was presented in the web seminar, with a focus on the “NetZeroCities” platform. The mission focuses on a systemic transformation and decarbonization of European cities. The NetZeroCities platform supports a wide range of measures of the European Commission in the implementation of the Cities Mission and, as a central platform, provides information about activities and participation opportunities for cities and municipalities on the topic of climate neutrality.
City follows data – How municipalities develop their strategy in the age of data, in English
The goal of the web seminar was to provide a definition and understanding of a municipal data strategy and its importance to urban development in the digital age.
The topic had emerged from the first networking workshop for municipalities in September 2022 (for documentation).
Jana Helder and Dimitri Ravin, both research assistants at the German Institute of Urban Affairs (difu), gave an overview of their current research, which was conducted in the context of the Coordination and Transfer Office Model Projects Smart Cities (KTS). During the web seminar, in addition to the definition for a municipal data strategy, examples from European municipalities were used to illustrate its importance for urban development in the digital age. In addition, the concept of data sovereignty was presented and discussed in small groups. Here, the participants agreed on the relevance of the topics discussed.
A summary in English will be published in January 2023. The webinar was held in English.
More information about the web seminar: slides of the presentations (in English).
EU Mission “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities”: EU Commission announces the selected cities
The European Commission called on authorities and cities in Europe to apply for the European mission “100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030”. By the end of January 2022, a total of 377 city applications had been received.
On 28 April 2022, the European Commission announced the selection:
The selected German cities include Aachen, Dortmund, Dresden, Frankfurt/Main, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Mannheim, Munich and Münster.
Among the selected cities are also 3 of the 12 peer learning communities of the #connectedinEurope project: Sofia, Utrecht and Munich.
Many of the German selected cities are part of the national national Smart Cities‘ funding programme, others come from EU Member States and from countries associated to the EU funding programme Horizon Europe. In the next step, all selected cities will prepare their Climate City Contract (CCC) together with the mission platform.
Link to the website of the European Commission (Press-release): https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_2591
Link to the website of the European Commission Mission “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities”: EU Mission: Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities | European Commission (europa.eu)
Fact Sheet of the European Commission: EC RTD Horizon Europe Cities Mission Reveal Factsheet