Digital Cities
Understanding the dynamics of digital and open societies

Urban centers are the heart of the global economy, generating 70% of global GDP, they are also home to more than 50% of the world’s population. A prerequisite to accommodate this scale of urbanization is without any doubt well-functioning infrastructures for urban areas, ensuring efficient and effective processes and a high quality of life for citizens. In fact, in recent years, particular attention has been given to the dominant role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and innovation changing our urban spaces such as in terms of intelligence, interconnectedness and efficiency, and to improve our well-being, or quality of life. For example, public institutions look at the implications for public services development vis-à-vis its citizens by making political commitments towards making open government data available to citizens for their peruse.

We prefer to see cities as highly social, as axis of humanity, thereby stressing that ICT facilitate and empower citizens so they can become active in shaping their urban environment, establish relationships with the city and other citizens, and to collectively tackle shared urban issues and co-create solutions.

More specifically, we subscribe to a forward-looking conception of the city that reconciles any exclusive top-down or bottom-up approach associated with terms such as (citizen) engagement, consensus-driven, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, and inclusive. Here, the city is understood as a local innovation platform where all relevant stakeholders from the private and public sphere, academia, civil society and so on can meet.

Cases linked to the urban space are under investigation as well as the interactions between the physical (offline) and the virtual (online), and which are mediated by ICTs (such as social media, innovative wireless networks, mobile devices, cloud technology), or developed using innovative methods (such as co-creation, living labs research, PPPP business models and so on), and that involve or engage citizens in innovative experiences with the goal of increasing their quality of life in meaningful ways.

The Digital Cities agenda aims to capture creative and collaborative innovation through (direct) interactions between public bodies, private actors and citizens in:
• Dealing with the next data flood (coming from linked open data, big data, the internet of things, sensor data etc.);
• Identifying and tackling new relational complexities between actors;
• Facing grand societal challenges in a city context (e.g. mobility, security, local and participatory governance); and,
• Offering new and engaging experiences to citizens

At the core of the Digital Cities programme, we see the interdependence and interaction of three conditions as being the constituting elements of a future looking, “digital” city that is truly innovative: being collaborative, collective and contextual.

Our programme is built around five interrelated fundamental and applies research focal points, which represent cornerstones of digital and open societies. Relevant expertise from the various disciplines is thus clustered around these themes. The programme connects to several of the ICT and societal challenges identified in Horizon 2020.
• Cities for innovation and socio-economic growth
• Cities for civic engagement, self-regulation and collective action
• Cities for digital inclusion, social innovation and social mobility
• Cities for resilience and sustainability
• Smart Brussels