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  • TechTown

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Basingstoke). Transnational meetings in September (Limerick) and November (Cesis)
    Transnational meetings in March (Barnsley), June (Gavle), September (Dubrovnik) and November (Loop City).
    Final event in April (Brussels).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova

    CONTACT US

    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027

    CONTACT US

    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 

    CONTACT US

    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 

    CONTACT US

    By exploring how small and medium sized cities can maximise the job creation potential of the digital economy, this Action Planning network examined whether there is potential for spillover from stronger city level digital economies; how clusters can work at city level and look collaboratively at what cities can do to support businesses to access the digital skills and innovations they need in order to start, grow and compete. The city partners further explored the role and viability of digital, content creation and technology clusters and how benefit may be gained from major city or national initiatives to benefit job creation and growth in small and medium sized cities. The project was 'of the digital economy' as well as 'for the digital economy' in that it used digital technologies as much as possible throughout management and delivery.

    A digital city future, adapt or die
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    7454
  • Find your Greatness

    Summary

    Lead Partner : Alba Iulia - Romania
    • Bragança - Portugal
    • Candelaria - Spain
    • Limerick - Ireland
    • 22nd district of Budapest (Budafok-Tétény) - Hungary
    • Perugia - Italy
    • Võru County - Estonia
    • Wroclaw - Poland

    Alba Iulia Municipality, Calea Motilor 5A, 510134, Romania

    CONTACT US

    Timeline

    Kick-Off Meeting

    2nd Transnational Meeting

    3rd Transnational Meeting in Alba Iulia

    4th Transnational Meeting in Wroclaw

    5th Transnational Meeting in Voru

    6th Transnational Meeting in Braganca

    7th Transnational Meeting in Alba Iulia

    8th Transational Meeting in Budafok

    9th Final Project Conference in Perugia

    Find your Greatness is a concept that reflects the most challenges addressed by AIM together with other EU local communities. Why Find your Greatness? Because the challenge is to build on the cities' potential. In the case of the partners of the project the need identified locally and which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development, the need to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Europe's first strategic brand building program for smart cities
    Ref nid
    13509
  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    15/11/2022

    On 7 May, URBACT's Monitoring Committee has officially approved all Action Planning Networks to proceed to Phase 2.

    News

     

    The main objective of Action Planning Networks is to bring together between 7 and 10 cities across Europe to exchange their experience in a particular thematic urban development challenge and to share their ideas about possible solutions, during a period of over 2 years. The Phase 1 (from late June 2019 to February 2020) focused on the development of baseline studies, city profiles and the production of the Application Form for Phase 2.

    Following the Monitoring Committee's approval of the networks, cities are now ready to focus on the exchange and learning activities using a range of learning tools and approaches in line with the URBACT Method. Every partner city will consolidate an URBACT Local Group, which will co-design Integrated Action Plans for future implementation. The Phase 2 also presents a novelty for the projects, from now on cities are encouraged to undertake pilot actions (Small Scale Actions), to experiment with new ideas for projects gained from other network exchanges and in line with the cities’ network topic.

    As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the URBACT Secretariat will follow up with a series of adapted activities to support these networks and their partners, including the delivery of trainings using online formats and a 3 months extension of the network life-cycle, meaning that projects will run until August 2022. Thus, networks will respect the following calendar:

     

    • Activation Stage (May - December 2020): putting together an Integrated Action Plan roadmap
    • Planning Actions (December 2020 - December 2021): drafting the Integrated Action Plan
    • Planning Implementation (December 2021 - June 2022): finalising the Integrated Action Plan
    • Integrated Action Plans Finale (June - August 2022): sharing knowledge

     

    You can find all approved networks in the table below, the Lead Partner city is indicated is bold. To find out more about each one of the projects, check the network's webpages.
    Congratulations to the 23 approved projects!

     

    NETWORK

    PARTNERS

    DESCRIPTION

    Research, technological development and innovation

    UrbSecurity

    Leiria (PT)
    - Longford (IE)
    - Madrid (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Michalovce (SK)
    - Parma (IT)
    - Pella (EL)
    - Unione della Romagna Faentina (IT)
    - Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)

    Security and safety are two common goods and fundamental components of European democracy. This network intends to analyse strategies and concepts of urban design and planning, which could contribute to prevent segregation and anti-social behaviour. Additionally, this network wishes to co-create an integrated approach towards urban security focusing on improving citizens’ quality of life and the city’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth towards a good living environment.

    Find your Greatness

    Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Bragança (PT)
    - Candelaria (ES)
    - Perugia (IT)
    - Wroclaw (PL)
    - Võru (EE)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Budafok-Tétény 22nd district of Budapest (HU)

    The challenge is to build on the cities' opportunities. The partners of the project need to identify locally a strength, which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development. The goal of this network is to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Access to and use of ICT

    DigiPlace
    (previously DI4C)

    Messina (IT)
    - Botosani (RO)
    - Oulu (FI)
    - Portalegre (PT)
    - Roquetas de Mar (ES)
    - Saint- Quentin (FR)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - Ventspils Digital Centre (LV)

    This network aims to set up an acceleration mechanism to enable cities to catch up the digitalisation opportunities in hard & soft infrastructure. Remove all the obstacles encountered by mid-sized cities in their digital journey: lack of strategic & global vision lack of technical and engineering capacities difficulties in incorporating the digital innovation. Municipalities need to guaranty the uptake of digital innovation by the local stakeholders: citizen and entrepreneurs.

    IoTxChange

    Fundão (PT)
    - Dodoni (EL)
    - Jelgava (LV)
    - Nevers Agglomeration (FR)
    - Razlog (BG)
    - Ånge (SE)
    - Kežmarok (SK)
    - Åbo Akademi University (FI)

    The objective is to encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities, guiding us through a new age of digital transformation.

    Competitiveness of SMEs

    iPlace

    Amarante (PT)
    - Balbriggan (IE)
    - Pori (FI)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Grosseto (IT)
    - Gabrovo (BG)
    - Heerlen (NL)
    - Kočevje (SI)
    - Medina del Campo
    (ES)

    - Saldus (LV)

    This network aim to produce 10 different and unique robust economic development strategies, targeting their own genuine niches, and generating urban innovation ecosystems. City partners will focus on deepening the understanding of their own local economic strengths and establish strategic methods to revitalise their economy, adapt their city to the next economy and to future economic changes, establishing methodological bases for generate resilient cities.

    Tourism Friendly Cities

    Genoa (IT)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Rovaniemi (FI)
    - Venice (IT)
    - Utrecht (NL)
    - Krakow (PL)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Druskininkai (LT)
    - Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (IE)
    - Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR)

    This network aims to explore how tourism can be sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism to reach this ambitious aim, the project will create integrated and inclusive strategies which can keep a balance between the needs of the local community, in terms of quality of life and of services available, and the promotion of sustainable urban development at environmental, social and economic level.

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

    Clermont Auvergne Metropole (FR)
    - Bialystok Association of the Functional Area (PL)
    - CIM Alto Minho (PT)
    - Rouen Normandie Metropole (FR)
    - Elefsina (EL)
    - Galati (RO)
    - Palma di Montechiaro (IT)
    - Tampere EcoFellows (FI)

    Local authorities embrace the ambitious goal to become a zero-net energy territory within the next 30 years. Thus, the aim is to define the local action plans to become zero-net (ZNE) territory by producing and delivering local, renewable and regulated sources of energy by the implementation of an energy loop which gathers all the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this fair trade business in and around the metropolitan area.

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

    Manchester (UK)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Zadar (HR)
    - Modena (IT)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Tartu (EE)
    - Vilvoorde (BE)

    The network will support capacity building of cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets and their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) aligned to Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Working with 7cities to adopt different approaches to carbon budgeting and science-based targets, the network will undertake a programme of capacity building in order to support their local activities and integrated action plan and influence Covenant of Mayors' signatory cities.

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency

    RiConnect

    Barcelona Metropolitan Area (ES)
    - Porto Metropolitan Area (PT)
    - Krakow Metropole Association (PL)
    - Paris Metropolitan Area (FR)
    - Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area (PL)
    - Amsterdam Region (NL)
    - Transport for Greater Manchester (UK)
    - Thessaloniki Major Development Agency (EL)

    The overall goal is to rethink, transform and integrate mobility infrastructure aiming at reconnecting people, neighbourhoods, cities and natural spaces. The project will develop planning strategies, processes, instruments and partnerships, fostering public transport and active mobility, reducing externalities and unlocking opportunities of urban regeneration with the objectives of structuring the territory, and achieving a more sustainable, equitable and attractive metropolis.

    URGE

    Utrecht (NL)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Oeste CIM (PT)
    - Copenhagen (DK)
    - Granada (ES)
    - Munich (DE)
    - Kavala (EL)
    - Prato (IT)
    - Nigrad (SI)

    URGE (circUlaR buildinG citiEs) aims to design integrated urban policies on circularity in the building sector – a major consumer of raw materials – as there is a gap in knowledge on this topic. The result is an in-depth understanding of this theme and a first plan for a tailor-made methodology that allows the circular dimension to be widely integrated in the large construction tasks the URGE partnership is facing. URGE thus accelerates the transition towards a circular economy.

    Healthy Cities

    Vic (ES)
    - Anyksciai (LT)
    - Bradford (UK)
    - Alphen aan den Rijn (NL)
    - Falerna (IT)
    - Farkadona (EL)
    - Loulé (PT)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Malta Planning Authority (MT)

    This network aims to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, planning actions that focus on improving the population’s health, while developing a rigorous health impact assessment methodology around it. Urban Planning can become a health generator on many grounds, and this network of cities reflects the multiplicity of possible approaches to tackle the issue: green areas, mobility, social cohesion or promotion of sports are some examples.

    KAIRÓS

    Mula (ES)
    - Belene (BG)
    - Cesena (IT)
    - Malbork (PL)
    - Roskilde (DK)
    - Heraklion (EL)
    - Šibenik (HR)
    - Ukmergè (LT)

     

    The ultimate goal is to represent a moment of change, improving the urban environment of cities involved, developing heritage-led urban regeneration. It will enhance the potential of heritage in small and medium cities developing strategies for economic and social cohesion, inclusion and sustainable urban development. This network fosters the transnational exchange of experiences to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose.

     

    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

    The Hague (NL)
    - Bucharest 3rd district (RO)
    - Ciudad Real (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Patras (EL)
    - Oslo (NO)
    - Opole (PL)
    - Vila Nova Famalicão (PT)
    - Zagreb (HR)

     

    This network seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centers to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the circular economy. They facilitate waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centers also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level.

    FOOD CORRIDORS
    (previously Rurban Food)

    Coimbra Region (PT)
    - Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Córdoba (ES)
    - Larissa (EL)
    - Szécsény (HU)
    - Bassa Romagna Union (IT)
    - Tartu Tartumaa Arendusselts (EE)
    - BSC Kranj and Gorenjska (SI)

    Recent experience suggests that it is necessary to promote a transition towards regional food systems. This network encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of food plans that extend from the urban and periurban areas through a corridor that facilitates urban-rural re-connection. This approach enhances production and consumption environments founded on a base of economic, social and environmental sustainability, integrated into development policies.

    Health&Greenspace

    Hegyvidék 12th district of Budapest (HU)
    - Espoo (FI)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Messina (IT)
    - Breda (NL)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Santa Pola (ES)
    - Suceava (RO)
    - Tartu (EE)

    As a response to the various health risks related to rapid urbanization and the densification of cities, this network project promotes health-responsive planning and management of urban green infrastructure with an overall aim to bring health and wellbeing benefits for citizens across Europe. The network applies a holistic approach that addresses the main functions provided by urban green infrastructure that deliver health and social benefits.

    Sustainable transport

    Space4People

    Bielefeld (DE)
    - Arad (RO)
    - Badalona (ES)
    - Nazaré (PT)
    - Turku (FI)
    - Guía de Isora (ES)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Saint-Germain-en-Laye (FR)
    - Sérres (EL)
    - Valga (EE)

    This network improves quantity and quality of attractive public spaces in urban areas. For this, it tackles the main public space use being transportation in 3 aspects: improving user experience and adding space to pedestrian networks and (semi) pedestrianised places, upscaling intermodal hubs to urban centres of mixed use as well as reducing and optimising parking in public space. The project takes a user-centric approach by users assessing and creating future use and design of public space.

    Thriving Streets

    Parma (IT)
    - Antwerp (BE)
    - Igoumenitsa (EL)
    - Klaipèda (LT)
    - Nova Gorica (SI)
    - Oradea (RO)
    - Santo Tirso (PT)
    - Radom (PL)
    - Southwark London Borough (UK)
    - Debrecen Economic Development Centre (HU)

    This is a network that addresses the bottlenecks in sustainable urban mobility. The project will focus on the economic and social benefits of sustainable mobility, rather than on the widely demonstrated environmental effects. The network argues that working with local amenities and social networks at neighbourhood level could unlock the hidden demand for active mobility in cities, and thus act as enabler of behaviour change towards more resilient and liveable neighbourhoods.

    Employment protection and resource efficiency

    SIBdev

    Heerlen (NL)
    - Aarhus (DK)
    - Baia Mare (RO)
    - Fundão (PT)
    - Kecskemét (HU)
    - Pordenone (IT)
    - Zaragoza (ES)
    - Võru Development Centre (EE)

    This network aims to explore how social impact bonds can be used to improve public service delivery in areas such as employment, ageing, and immigration. Often, the delivery of services is hindered by fragmented and siloed agencies and budgets, financial and political shorttermism, and an aversion to risk and difficulty creating change. The social impact bond is a promising model that ameliorates these issues by increasing collaboration, prevention, and innovation.

    Social inclusion and poverty

    ROOF

    Ghent (BE)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Glasgow (UK)
    - Thessaloniki (EL)
    - Liège (BE)
    - Odense (DK)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Toulouse Metropole (FR)
    - Timisoara Department of Social Assistance (RO)

    This project aims to eradicate homelessness through innovative housing solutions at city level. It will exchange knowledge on how to gather accurate data and make the conceptual shift from the symptomatic management to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model. This network will guide the partner cities towards integrated local action plans linked to the long-term strategic goal of Functional Zero (no structural homelessness).

    ActiveCitizens

    Agen (FR)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Cento (IT)
    - Dinslaken (DE)
    - Hradec Králové (CZ)
    - Santa Maria da Feira (PT)
    - Saint-Quentin (FR)
    - Tartu (EE)

    The aim of this network is to rethink the place of the citizens in the local governance by finding a balance between representative democracy and participatory democracy. This network of European small and medium-sized cities, with the same expectations and similar challenges, will notably take into account, to do this, new digital tools while integrating the issue of citizens away or not comfortable with digital tools.

    Access

    Amsterdam (NL)
    - Dublin (IE)
    - Lisbon (PT)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    - Tallinn (EE)
    - Vilnius (LT)
    - London Greater Authority (UK)

    This network addresses the importance of inclusive cultural policies. A challenge all cities in this project face is that culture does not enrich or empower all people equally. We need to gain a better understanding of our communities in order to engage all citizens in our cities. We have identified four topics to work on that will enable us to gain that understanding and support us in reaching all population groups in the participating cities from the west, east and south of Europe.

    Genderedlandscape

    Umeå (SE)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - La Rochelle (FR)
    - Barcelona Activa SA (ES)
    - Celje JZ Socio (SI)

    Creating conditions for gender equality through a holistic understanding of how gender inequality is created in the specific place. This network creates an exchange on challenges faced by cities with an understanding of gender inequality that is globally understood but locally contextualised.

    Education, skills and lifelong learning

    Cities4CSR

    Milan (IT)
    - Bratislava (SK)
    - Budaörs (HU)
    - Guimarães (PT)
    - Molina de Segura (ES)
    - Nantes Metropole (FR)
    - Rijeka (HR)
    - Kekava (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    -Vratsa (BG)

    Through intensive capacity building of local actors, the network will increase collaboration among municipalities, businesses and the civic society in order to promote sustainable, inclusive & innovative urban change. The project aims at increasing the role and added value of companies’ CSR activities at local level, towards urban regeneration and social innovation, with a special emphasis on education, in order to better address emerging and unmet local needs.

     

    -

     

    Interested in finding more about the approved networks and what they will do? Watch the URBACT Method video and check out the Action Planning Network's infographic!

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  • It's time to Find your Greatness

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    15/11/2022

    Eight cities have joined the URBACT Action Planning Network (APN) 'Find Your Greatness' aiming to boost their sustainable urban development by defining their strategic brand position and increasing their attractiveness and competitiveness.

    Articles
    City Branding

    The need for city branding

     

    Cities are competing for people, resources and business, therefore a demand for a unified city strategy has been constantly increasing. Since the 1990s, city branding has been a key factor in urban development policies. Cities all over the world take specific actions to manipulate their image and perceptions, both in the eyes of the inhabitants and those of potential tourists, investors, users and consumers.

    While capitals and other large cities typically enjoy the advantages of a strong metropolitan vibe, population diversity and higher financial resources, mid-sized and smaller towns and cities often struggle to attract attention. Without making themselves recognisable on the broader regional or global map, they can face decreasing recognition, relevance and competitiveness on the global market.

    City branding is a complementary tool to strategic urban planning. It defines what the place is (brand essence), what the place would like to become (brand vision), what differentiates the place (positioning), the voice of the place (personality) and key messages and experiences (emotional benefits). A strong integrated city brand provides strategic guidelines for city growth, sets priorities for capital investment and services, and is a vehicle for long-term sustainable urban development.

     

    Building on an URBACT success story

     

    Alba Iulia in Romania was a partner in the URBACT CityLOGO network (2013-2015). Through this, it improved its promotion locally and abroad, and witnessed a significant increase in interest from national and international tourists, business developers and investors.

    These results inspired Alba Iulia Municipality to want to develop their thinking even further. It launched the idea of a network of small and medium-sized cities in Europe to exchange and learn on city branding, marketing and communication. The ‘Find Your Greatness’ APN was the successful result, a partnership of eight cities launched in late 2019: Limerick (IE), Perugia (IT), Braganca (PT), Candelaria (ES), Wroclaw (PL), Budafok (HU) and Voru (EE), led by Alba Iulia (RO).

    All the partner towns and cities are aware that they need to become visible, to communicate their brand vision and to increase their competitive position. At the same time, each city has its own profile, challenges, objectives, and expectations.

    Alba Iulia wants an updated branding and marketing strategy that would include smart city developments. Limerick has just launched its city brand and would like to

    achieve improved ownership of the brand by Limerick’s inhabitants and to use this to build community spirit.

    Perugia wants to enhance its strategic brand positioning, building on its cultural heritage - including its great Etruscan walls - and other cultural assets. Braganca looks for an update of its marketing and communication strategy that would position it as the first choice for digital and smart industry development, tourism and gastronomy, attractive natural environment and high quality of life in Portugal.

    Candelaria, on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, attracts mass pilgrimage to venerate the ‘Virgin of Candelaria’ in its famous Basilica di Candelaria. The municipality would like to diversify and enrich its touristic and gastronomic offer in order to achieve a more economically efficient and sustainable tourism.

    The main focus of thematic brand development of Wroclaw is its important industrial heritage of trams, tram lines and tram depots. Meanwhile, the basis for the thematic branding of Budafok, the 22nd district of Budapest, is its long and rich wine tradition, including a unique heritage of 130 km of wine cellars. It seeks to further exploit its sparkling wine production and thematic wine tours combined with gastronomic and cultural events.

    Voru, the smallest partner city in the network is aiming to define its identity as a safe, relaxing and family-friendly town that is also a smart town, making it an attractive location to develop a business, to live and to visit.

     

    City branding: a challenging topic

     

    Already, my visits to the network’s partner cities, site visits and meetings with politicians, municipality administrations, business entities, academics, NGOs and media representatives have highlighted the complexity of the project theme.

    Generalising across the individual situations of each city, we have been able to identify the following groups of themes/policy challenges that will be addressed by international learning and exchange in the 2nd phase of the project:

    • Branding, brand strategy and logo development
    • Marketing and communication strategy development
    • Use of smart e-solutions in marketing and communication fitting in the smart city programme
    • Building community spirit
    • Innovative, creative, digital (smart) business development
    • Cultural and industrial heritage protection, promotion and exploitation
    • Tourism, excursions and experience-based activities
    • Green and sustainable development

    Half of the towns and cities have already developed either overarching or thematic brands, with a visual identity, and marketing and communication plans. Each has good practices, knowledge and experiences to share; and each has also a need to enrich their understanding, learn new skills and knowledge, and develop new ideas to be introduced into their local actions.

     

    Some busy years ahead

     

    Despite the complexity of the challenges, in each partner city I have found a strong commitment from all stakeholders and project teams to work intensively and professionally in the project and to achieve its objectives. ULGs – URBACT Local Groups have been formed in all partner towns and cities. In most, participation and co-creation are already applied methods in city governance and decision-making.

    Integrated Action Plans (IAPs) for each project partner city will be the main output of the network, setting out the objectives, policy challenges, actions and expected results of improved branding for each city. Each IAP will be complementary to the broader urban and strategic development plans of the cities. In other words, the strategic development vision of cities will be supported by their strategic brand vision.

    This will need to be communicated to citizens, visitors, business developers and investors. The final effect should be increased satisfaction and quality of life of citizens.

    Cities gathered in the Find your Greatness network are aware of the importance of brands, branding and marketing and are also aware that this will require their full engagement during the project duration and afterwards. They recognise and highlight that there is no shortcut in the definition of a strategic brand vision or its practical implementation to build the image of the city.

    Network
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  • Health&Greenspace

    Summary

    LEAD PARTNER : 12th District of Budapest (Hegyvidék) - Hungary
    • Tartu - Estonia
    • Santa Pola - Spain
    • Espoo - Finland
    • Limerick - Ireland
    • Messina - Italy
    • Breda - Netherlands
    • Poznań - Poland
    • Suceava - Romania

    Timeline

    • Kick-off meeting Phase 1
    • Kick-off meeting Phase 2
    • Activation meeting, Health&Greenspace Academy, Thematic Working Groups
    • Small scale actions starting
    • Integrated Action Plans ready, Peer-review sessions

    Integrated Action Plans

    Municipality of MESSINA - Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Messina - Italy
    The Green Integrated Action Plan for Poznan

    Read more here !

    Poznan - Poland
    Hegyvidék, Budapest 12 Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Hegyvidék, Budapest 12 - Hungary
    A Climate-conscious Action Plan for Urban Space (Re)design in Tartu

    Read more here !

    Tartu - Estonia
    A new park in Breda Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Breda - The Netherlands
    Limerick Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Limerick - Ireland
    Santa Pola Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Santa Pola - Spain
    Suceava Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Suceava - Romania
    Espoo´s Integrated Action Plan for health-responsive blue-green infrastructure

    Read more here !

    Espoo - Finland

    How can we improve urban green spaces in order to promote mental and physical health for our communities? Health&Greenspace Action Planning Network links green infrastructure design and management to urban health policies and practices. The project focuses on physical and mental health benefits of urban green spaces, as well as their role in improving social health and air quality and reducing heat stress in cities. Actions targeted by the network are linked to both physical changes to the urban environment and the promotion of social activities such as community, cultural, education and physical activity programs in green areas.

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  • Access to nature in cities improves health and boosts well-being

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    15/11/2022

    Are we fully aware of the relevance of urban green spaces? We are hardwired in a way that our body and mind functions far better in natural environment. A growing body of empirical evidence indicates that exposure to urban green spaces has positive impacts on both our physical and mental health. But as cities expand and densify, our precious green spaces and urban vegetation are increasingly coming under threat.

    Articles

    Well planned and properly managed urban green spaces can contribute to healthy urban living, climate change adaptation and improved urban air quality. Yet despite their significant potential, the use of urban green spaces remains marginal, fragmented, and highly uneven within cities.

    The URBACT Health&Greenspace Network was developed in response to the various health risks related to rapid urbanization and the densification of cities. The project launched in September 2019 promotes health-responsive planning and management of urban green spaces with an overall aim to bring health and well-being benefits for citizens across Europe. Zsófia Hamza, the Project Coordinator of Health&Greenspace, when touching upon the motivation of Budapest 12th District to initiate the project, highlighted that “For many years, the municipality has been working hard to protect green areas and improve health. The interconnection of these two fields, the interconnection of hitherto separate efforts can create a different quality and can dramatically multiply the achievements of the two sectors.

    Budapest 12th District leading the URBACT Action Planning Network will be teaming up with 8 other city partners – Breda (NL), Espoo (FI), Limerick (IE), Messina (IT), Poznan (PL), Santa Pola (ES), Suceava (RO), Tartu (EE). On the Kick-off Meeting, taking place in Espoo on 24-26 September, city representatives started to define the sub-themes of the project, and identified potential actions, learning needs and good practices.

     

    Health and well-being benefits of urban green spaces

    An analysis undertaken by researchers from the University of East Anglia that combined the results of multiple scientific studies, finds that increased greenspace exposure is associated with reduced blood pressure, better pulmonary and immune function, reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and asthma.

    Access to natural environments can also improve overall mental health. The impact of green spaces to mental health include reduces stress levels, improved general mood, reduced depressive symptoms, better cognitive functioning, improved mindfulness and creativity. 

    According to a study published in 2016, parks have notable cooling effects in the vegetated areas and also in the surrounding built environment. The oasis effect of parks will become ever more relevant for urban residents as climate change related heat waves presents a range of health risks, including potentially fatal heat stroke.

    Vegetation has an important role also in improving urban air quality by removing pollutants through filtration, decomposition and assimilation.

    Green urban areas also facilitate physical activity and relaxation and form a refuge from noise. Furthermore, parks and green spaces are places to connect with other people in the community and improve social well-being.

    A range of actions in the spotlight

    Local authorities can significantly influence how people use green spaces, as well as how to improve their potential to deliver health benefits. Actions covered by the network will be linked to both physical changes to the urban environment and the promotion of social activities, such as community participation in the design, establishment and maintenance of urban green spaces, and facilitated activities in parks. Health&Greenspace does not focus solely on parks, but also on street green and external building greens, such as green roofs and green façade walls.

    Health&Greenspace will support actions linked to green space related interventions that directly improve the physical and mental health of urban citizens. Action to be addressed can include the development of therapeutic gardens, health-walk routes, and areas for relaxation. Actions can be linked both to preventative care and postsurgical medical treatment.

    Health&Greenspace supports climate-responsive design of green spaces to increase the cooling capacity of urban areas. Urban authorities have a range of options to build on the cooling effects of vegetation:

     

     

    • the accessibility of public parks can be increased to provide shelter during heat waves,
       
    • the gardens of public parks can be opened for neighbouring residents,
       
    • cooling routes and cooling oases can be developed in the cityscape,
       
    • cold air corridors can be kept open in green spaces to improve ventilation.

    The use of urban green spaces to improve air quality and mitigate noise from traffic is also one of the goals of the project. Vegetation barriers between road and pedestrians, specific green space design to provide ventilation to the city, vegetation structures functioning as sound barriers, and creation of quiet natural soundscapes in the urban fabric can be particularly effective in this regard.

    Health&Greenspace is as much about social health and social cohesion as it is about physical and mental health benefits of green spaces. Designing green areas that function as outdoor community centres, organization of family days in parks, the development of recreational spaces can all serve to attract people to spend time in urban green areas and to strengthen social interactions.

    Partners of the network represent a diversity of local contexts, entry points, and also struggle with diverse challenges. The starting position differs across cities. The 12th District of Budapest is struggling with the maintenance of large areas of green space. Espoo has a very high share of green areas but because of rapid urbanization the green network is narrowing down. Poznan has a unique ‘wedge-and-ring’ greenery system that needs to be maintained and upgraded. In Limerick the network of green spaces is relatively small and fragmented. In Messina and Santa Pola the urban areas are densely built-up. Tartu is preparing a new master plan for the development of urban green infrastructure that focuses on cooling solutions, the reduction of noise and air pollutant. Breda and Suceava are aiming for large-scale rehabilitation of green spaces.

    Urban green spaces are becoming increasingly valuable, as artificial urban environment is rapidly expanding, and more and more people are forced to live in cities. The Health&Greenspace partnership will demonstrate to cities across Europe how the urban fabric can be transformed into a healthier environment for the benefit of its residents. Follow @Health&Greenspace and explore the details of the activities undertaken in the 9 partner cities!

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  • Getting Smart About Digital Innovation

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    15/11/2022

    We’re told that the future is smart; the future is digital. But what does it really mean to be a smart city? And how do we achieve the required digital transition in a way which really benefits those who live and work in our cities?

    Articles

    As we get ours hands on more and more urban data, better network connectivity, and more advanced technologies, we continually unlock new possibilities for digital or “smart” solutions to a wide range of urban challenges. From waste management, to transport and mobility, engagement with citizens, transparency and access to information, “Digital Innovation” provides a wealth of opportunities for cities and governments. With the aim of enhancing municipality management, local quality of life and improving urban sustainability, digital transition and the move to being “Smart Cities” is one of the major enablers helping cities in becoming modern places to live and work in the 21st Century.

    Large cites like London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Warsaw and Berlin have been trailblazers for the adoption of technology to transform how people live and work. But small and medium-sized cities are often struggling to make this transition as quickly or as effectively as their larger cousins.

    Many small and medium sized cities need to close the gap with their larger counterparts, in terms of digital transition and capitalising on the opportunities offered by the smart city movement. The new URBACT network “Digi Place – Digital Innovation for Cities” will see cities working together and breaking down the barriers to digital transition, becoming smart cities that are inclusive and sustainable.

    Led by the city of Messina (IT), the Digi Place network consists of eight city partners in total, including Oulu (FI), Ventspils (LV), Portalegre (PT), Roquetas de Mar (ES), Botosani (RO), Saint-Quentin (FR) and Trikala (EL). They are currently working through the development phase to define what they mean by a “smart city” and what their priorities are for their own digital transition work.

     

    Smart Everything

     

    In many ways, the term “Smart City” has become generic and over-used. It means different things to different people. To understand how digital innovation is going to benefit people and places, we must first be clear about why we are seeking such innovation. How do we know when we are in a Smart City? How do the benefits manifest themselves? What are the results we are looking for?

    The concept of smart cities has developed from the opportunities offered by technology, data and intelligent design. It often deals with things like smart lighting, intelligent transport systems and smart utility metering for electricity and water. These are core ways to enhance a city’s liveability, workability and sustainability. However, digital innovation can be applied to almost any urban policy theme. Hence becoming a truly “smart” city, in the broadest sense, also requires clarity of focus to use digital innovation in the right way for each particular place, population and economy.

    This is one of the main challenges for the partners in the Digital Innovation for Cities network: prioritising their actions for digital transition in line with their city’s real world priorities and needs.

    A related issue many cities are highlighting is that of “fragmentation” of activity – where cities have many tech-based projects but with little or no connection and cooperation between them. The production of a focussed and prioritised Integrated Action Plan as part of this URBACT network will be a key enabler for the partner cities. Using that, they can move to a more deliberate and coherent digital strategy.

    People vs Machines

     

    The implementation of these digital strategies offers the opportunity to create more advanced and tailored services. The disruptive nature and impact of new technologies is clear, particularly for things like artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, and these are already starting to transform cities, communities and businesses, reshaping industries and generating new economic opportunities.

    Technologies like these are a major part of any digital transition. But they are the means, not the end. Being a truly smart city is based on people as much as technology. It is about how the population works with that technology to enhance the experience of living and working in a city. This includes residents, employees working in a city, as well as local government staff, politicians, universities and educational establishments, charities, businesses and so on. How we deploy and use technology, and how we think and act within our cities all contributes to a the “Smartness” of a place.

    Linked to that is the skills and mindset of the staff working for the municipality and partners. For digital technologies to transform the way we work in our cities, the way we think about how we work and about how we develop new technologies also needs to be very different. This can be a major shift for some municipalities, and involves a new approach for both staff and citizens. This is partly about digital skills and competencies. But achieving a digital transition requires a “mindset transition” alongside it. To be successful, cities will need to carefully balance the “people” and the “tech” aspects of their strategy.

     

    The Proof Is In The Pudding…

     

    Even when we have established our priorities and balanced the people side of our digital transition with our technology streams, and developed the right skills pipeline, there will still be many challenges for cities to deal with. Management of data and considerations around privacy and cyber security continue to be hot topics. Cities are operating in a fast-moving landscape and will need to be able to adapt to keep up with the latest technologies and the latest regulations. Digital methods also have the potential to be divisive and further increase inequality, excluding those without ready access to digital devices or internet connectivity. Maintaining inclusion will be a challenges for all of us; smaller cities with fewer resources may find this particularly challenging.

    Identifying the right digital tools will only be part of the puzzle in Digi Place. Taking the right approach to the transition will be crucial. Getting that right must start from the very beginning: the correct mindset and approach need to be hard-wired into the project from the start. But the integrated and participative nature of the URBACT method are perfect for this; ideal for bringing together technology and people in an integrated and participatory way. Here’s to an exciting digital journey…

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