26 September 2022

The Portuguese Geographical Chapter Meeting took place on July 1 and involved a mix of participating Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) cities - Porto, Valongo, Guimarães as well as cities from outside of ICC in Portugal - Fundão, Maia, Aveiro and Ílhavo. The event focused on two major themes:

  • Tourism, culture and education
  • Data and digital innovation

A welcoming address was given by Natalia Gkiaouri, Policy Officer at DG GROW, European Commission, before Margarida Campolargo, Community and Project Manager at OASC, introduced the objectives of the meeting and OASC’s work.

The meeting then facilitated the sharing of implementation and technology deployment practices among participating cities. The cities shared their insights and experiences with the two major themes.

Tourism, Culture and Education

The cities of Aveiro and Ílhavo presented some of their developments and challenges faced. Ílhavo is a sub-region of Aveiro, implying that they often work together on activities such as Intermunicipal programmes and the future creation of a working group in the area of ​​Digital Innovation/Tourism.

The city of Aveiro focused on the education theme for this presentation. The city has worked with the University of Aveiro to instal Techlabs and has reinforced the “A” (Arts) element of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education and training for teachers.

The “Tech City” initiative Aveiro was also outlined which uses technology to improve the quality of living of local citizens and help governance entities to collect and share relevant information. It is a testbed for new technology and new opportunities for businesses, local people and innovation.

Ílhavo shared its website development for several sites such as the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus, where it has also developed a Virtual Museum App. Further, the city has been working on a free internet network and online store development.

Some of the challenges experienced by the cities included improving technology for smart irrigation systems, adapting tourist products to consumers, improving mobility quality, enhancing trade, and deconstructing city paradigms.

The topic of funding opportunities was briefly addressed by each city, as well as a discussion of strategies and solutions.

Luís Miguel Silva from the company TICE (Pólo das Tecnologias de Informação, Comunicação e Electrónica) also joined the discussion. He explained how TICE mobilises relevant actors throughout the country, promoting interfaces between the academic world (represented by universities and research and development) and the business world (represented by members, networks, SMEs and their associations). He also talked briefly about cybersecurity practices, DG CONNECT and service lines.

Data and digital innovation

The ICC mentor city of Porto shared updates on its Data Management and Enhancement Plan which allows for smooth data sharing between municipalities and external partners. It also outlined how the city operates on 2 axes: Internal Data Indexing and Open Data Portal in several areas, namely Culture and Tourism. This allows those who consult it to understand what the other units are doing and in this way avoids the repetition of projects, and greatly improves the analysis risk.

Meanwhile, the ICC city of Valongo outlined details of its tourism-focused activities such as its new “Cuca macuca” staircase which seeks to increase local biodiversity and provide a better forest area for future generations. The city has also developed an augmented reality app, as an accompanying guide to the visit to the “Serras de Valongo” in order to captivate more visitors.

Valongo has also been working on improving its building infrastructure through its system for monitoring the work of workers and constructions in real time which uses the Kaizen methodology. The city also shared details about the construction of the new building of the municipal council of Valongo which is a sustainable building in open space model.

Fundão presented several projects existing in the city such as the website https://movetofundao.pt/ which was developed to attract more inhabitants and more investment in the city. Within the city itself, the “Living Lab Cova da Beira” initiative hosts a wide range of cultural events and infrastructure for these events and workshops. Creativity is further encouraged in Fundão through the “Fab Lab Aldeias do Xisto” platform which offers networking, training and fairs that contribute to education and stimulate creativity.

Whilst Fundão is experiencing great success, it is still struggling with the challenges of an ageing population and attracting young people who are looking for opportunities outside the city.

The ICC city of Guimarães described its various initiatives such as its living lab 5G network, hybrid traffic monitoring, virtual transport ticket, and real-time information systems at transport stops and route QR Codes. The city is also currently developing a new parking space monitoring app and a system of crosswalks with sensors for traffic identification, meteorology and sound capture for possible road accidents. The “CityCatalyst” project is one of Guimarães key achievements, this platform aims to provide Portuguese cities with new technological solutions and innovative services.

Finally, the representative for the city of Maia explained the Urban Data Platform which is currently being developed. The platform uses sensors for air quality, traffic, rainwater, meteorological data, etc. Dashboards - both micro and macro – are being built and are available in certain territories.

Next steps

Overall, the meeting saw fruitful conversations and enabled stakeholders and cities to have a more informed view on the priorities, challenges and solutions of each city, and of the applied methodologies.

An appetite for greater focus on the topics covering Tourism, Education and Digital Innovation was observed. It was further noted that whilst the current projects on these topics are working well at a local level, they would largely benefit also from regional, national and international collaboration with other cities.

It was also felt that it would be useful to set up a selection of good practices and solutions to share. In this context, the Tech4Good Marketplace was identified as an enabler which could be used by both cities taking part in ICC and those outside of the initiative as well. Moreover, creating a list that displays the interests of the cities was proposed in order to try to better address their needs.

Further suggestions were made about starting regular working groups, a consortium to discuss funding opportunities and a group to participate in external events such as the Smart City Expo.

In summary, the meeting provided much inspiration for cities and helped shape ideas for future meetings and how to integrate the ICC project in a more permanent way.