Four Romanian cities participating in the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) – Arad, Timișoara, Bistrița and Iași – met on 19 May 2022. Representatives from each city presented both their accomplishments and the challenges they have experienced as they work towards goals set within the ICC thematic tracks.
Much of the conversation focused on the thematic tracks of Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration and Supply chains, logistics and the economics of mobility. Whilst the cities shared different views on what the best approaches look like to each of these themes, they all agreed that collaboration was the most effective method to achieve progress on them.
The city of Arad has been working on its digital development throughout its ICC journey and has found that out of six proposed solutions, their chat box feature was most effective in connecting with and encouraging participation among citizens. Paul Fogarassy, Entrepreneur and Professor also presented the city’s plan to use QR codes and braille signs to improve accessibility of public spaces.
Iași has also been working on digitalisation, in particular on open data - Iași's representative Catalin Boghiu shared that opening data led to the development of many useful apps. Their efforts to become greener is successful, with their zero-emission transport solution now 80% complete.
Iași’s experience participating in the Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) enabled them to advise Arad and Bistrița on their difficulty hiring digitalisation experts for the public sector and deciding whether to outsource these services.
Cities encouraged the practice of securing support from other institutions which is already done by Bistrița who utilises NGOs, academic groups and actors in the private sector. Iași further encouraged universities as a means for sourcing digitalisation and strategy experts. Local groups have also improved Iași’s ability to react to identified emergencies. Meanwhile Timișoara proposed working with the Association of Romanian Municipalities (ARM) to provide cohesive solutions for local authorities to adopt.
Participants shared problems that need the most urgent attention for example how the pandemic expedited the need for smarter, more digital cities. Timișoara plans to accomplish this with short-term, easily achievable solutions, starting with improving digitalisation capacity and reducing the length of implementation cycles.
Cities concluded by reflecting on their experience with the ICC initiative and noted how helpful the networking and sharing best practices elements have been.