23 February 2023

Smart cities: the future is increasingly green

In Italy, interest in "smart cities" is increasing. Planned more than 10 billion euros within the PNRR

Smart cities, or smart cities, are becoming increasingly popular in Italy, also in the wake of European policies to reduce emissions and diversify towards renewable energy sources. According to data from the latest research by the Smart City Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, almost one Italian municipality in three (28%) has started at least one project in the last three years, a percentage that grows to 50% in those with over 15 thousand inhabitants. A percentage that will increase further in the next three years, with 33% of municipalities wishing to invest in smart cities by 2024, also on the impulse of the PNRR that allocates more than 10 billion euros within the various projects. Among the issues most addressed in active projects are safety and control (58% of those surveyed), smart mobility (57%) and lighting (56%).
What are smart cities?
The term "smart city" defines those cities that manage resources intelligently, are economically viable and benefit from information and communication technology (ICT) in order to raise the quality of life and respond to the needs expressed by citizens and businesses.

Milan, Turin, Florence, Verona and Trento are just some of the cities that have started smart city projects, but "smart" solutions are spreading even in smaller cities. The production and consumption of electricity are fundamental aspects of the smart city. On the one hand, the European Union’s ban on polluting cars from 2035 requires cities to equip themselves with enough charging columns to meet the demand for electricity from cars. On the other hand, the energy efficiency of buildings, starting with energy-saving lighting, and public lighting allow cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), cities today account for two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption and 70% of global annual emissions.
In order to make the EU more energy independent and at the same time accelerate the transition to renewable energy, the European Commission has launched the REPowerEU plan. A few days ago, the European Parliament approved the agreement reached by the Council in December 2022 that Member States requesting additional resources through an amendment to the PNRR should include energy saving measures, clean energy production and diversification of energy supply, as required by the REPowerEU plan.
But how can Smart Cities organize to achieve energy savings?
From the point of view of buildings - public and private - it is necessary to upgrade heating systems based on fossil fuels with heat pump systems, introduce insulation measures, use the latest generation of fixtures and LED lighting systems equipped with intelligent electronics, presence sensors and time-based adjustment, in short, useful technologies for maximizing savings, to the benefit of municipal coffers.