Brilliant ideas : 5 of the smartest cities in Europe

Read on for a list of three stellar cities (in no particular order) – what they’re doing how they’re doing it and why we want more like them around the world.

1. Barcelona, Spain
Start with a city that hosts its own annual Smart City Expo. Add to that a robust and wide-reaching public Wi-Fi infrastructure and consider that Barcelona is well on its way to energy self-sufficiency as well. If you’re looking for a community that understands something about its place in the landscape of smart, this Catalonian capital is a top pick.

2. Grenoble, France
There’s always room for a new player in the smart-city space, and Grenoble is definitely jumping into the vehicle-share arena. With the launch of its new transportation initiative, Cité lib by Ha:mo, 35 three-wheel TOYOTA i-ROAD and 35 four-wheel Toyota Auto Body COMS — all of them electric vehicles — are being tested for short city trips. All of this is based around 27 charging stations installed and operated by Sodetrel, an innovator when it comes to charging services for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In all, there are 120 charging points for the project, and 41 for other plug-in vehicles, now added to the city’s transport infrastructure. It’s three euros for the first 15 minutes, two for the second, and one for every quarter hour after that (and even less if you’ve joined the Grenoble transport-card plan). The big picture, when it comes to Cité lib by Ha:mo, is that Grenoble is actually expanding its public transportation network. This is a shift toward multi-modality. Users are able to catch a Cité lib by Ha:mo car when coming into Grenoble, say, then a short one-way trip with the EV on errands, followed by a tram/bus from a different location back home. The program’s ultra-compact electric vehicles give everyone in Grenoble new options for combining numerous ways of getting around — it’s a complete, flexible (and greener) system for the city.

“Grenoble draws its strength from its capacity to accompany emerging initiatives and turn them into successes for everyone’s benefit,” says Jacques Wiart, deputy mayor in charge of Mobility and Urban Transport at the City of Grenoble. “By proposing a new clean mobility solution that complements bicycling and public transport, the trial Cité lib by Ha:mo is in direct line with this tradition.”

When it comes to smart cities, it takes a top-level commitment from leaders such as Wiart to see a new project through. But it also takes solid partners working together — from the power company to the car manufacturer, to the car-sharing operator and the public transportation network. For Grenoble, Cité lib by Ha:mo is putting another component of city systems on the cutting edge of smart.

3. Vienna, Austria
Well known for its important contributions to European music, Vienna is still keeping perfect time when it comes to the tempo and movements of innovation. A leader in the electric vehicle space — there are more than 400 charging stations throughout its streets — Vienna also is breaking new ground in bike and car-share programs. Even better, it’s opened its bike system to visitors as well as residents.

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  • The Project

    A city operating entirely on clean energy. In theory, it's possible. But in real life? How to integrate new solutions in existing buildings, systems and people's lives? What are the technical, economic or social barriers? And how to overcome these? That's what we've learned by doing in 20 projects in Grenoble and Amsterdam.

  • Our Activities

  • Achieved Impacts

    • 20 innovations in Grenoble & Amsterdam
    • 35,000 tonnes CO2 saved per year
    • 76,000 m² renovated residential buildings
    • 10,000 dwellings connected to a Smart Grid