On October 10th 2023, during the European Week of Regions and Cities, an inspiring discussion took place on how citizen-centered tech pilots can address the specific needs of EU cities and communities. The session, organised by the EU-funded CommuniCity project, was held at the SQUARE Brussels Meeting Centre.
With an emphasis on enhancing the quality of life in marginalised communities through technology and innovation, the session showcased how urban challenges could be met with citizen-centric tech solutions. The panel featured Joana Moreira from Porto Digital, Neeltje Pavicic from the City of Amsterdam, and Josephine Di Pino from Open Agile Smart Cities. Giacomo Lozzi from the European Network of Living Labs moderated the informative session.
The CommuniCity project offers 100 pilot grants through its Open Calls, allowing companies and associations to co-create groundbreaking solutions. These solutions harness AI and other emerging technologies to address various city and community challenges. The experience of the 1st round, which focused on the needs identified in Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Porto, set the stage for expanding the project to more EU cities in subsequent rounds. The session also offered the opportunity to launch the Second CommuniCity Open Call for 2023-2024. With the application window running from 12th September to 31st October 2023, this represents a renewed opportunity for innovators across Europe.
The experience of the participating experts enriched the discussion. Joana Moreira and Neeltje Pavicic shed light on why Porto and Amsterdam joined the project and the challenges these cities faced during the 1st round of pilots. They also gave some insights into the selected pilots, and the progress and lessons learned from these initiatives. For instance, Amsterdam tackled issues like empowering low-literate citizens through AI and creating real-time audio translations for asylum seekers. Porto, on its side, is testing digital technologies to decrease loneliness and increase the autonomy of the elderly people in its communities.
On the other hand, Josephine Di Pino outlined the overarching goals of the CommuniCity project and discussed the significant role replicator cities like Aarhus, Breda, Prague, and Tallinn will play. She also discussed the 2nd round of CommuniCity Open Calls and briefly touched on the expectations for the 3rd round, which will open its doors to all EU cities.
Finally, the session also introduced CommuniCity’s technical framework, a robust set of assets that aids the design and development of these innovative solutions. This framework ensures interoperability between existing city IT infrastructures and developers’ solutions, aiming for replicability across different cities involved in the project.