In this number the City of Florence and the University of Bristol – partners in the FP7 research and innovation European project called STEEP, will tell us how it is possible to plan in a participatory and interactive way an energy masterplan of a city, by introducing intelligent systems to predict and measure the impact of various energy efficiency measures all over the city. Alessandra Barbieri, coordinator of the STEEP Project on behalf of the City of Florence, and Mike Yearworth, University of Bristol – ICT partner of the project, will explain us this approach and its usefulness in the “smart” city context. As we are going to read, and as we have seen in the previous issue of Digital Coffee with the story of SmartPuglia, once again the participation and the involvement of citizens and stakeholders represent the key elements in order to plan an intelligent city and to obtain a complete and complex overview of all the different aspects related to energy in the city.
Alessandra, tell us about the STEEP project objectives:
STEEP project – Systems Thinking for a comprehensive city Efficient Energy Planning – aims to create a digital model to design an energy masterplan that is able to take into account all the systems and infrastructures in an urban environment with significant impact on the energy consumption. The project combines the systemic approach with an innovative open source technology: in this way, it provides a support to achieve high efficiency in energy flows by selecting the set of the most effective measures to be carried out.
An urban environment is populated and it is significantly influenced by the behavior of those who live in: a critical step in the process is the people engagement ex-ante and ex-post, enabling them to play an active part also in the so-called “Pestel analysis”, which allows the drawing of different future scenarios to support the decision making procedure in smart urban planning. The sectors concerned are those which have the higher impact on energy and sustainability, i.e. the energy efficiency of buildings, mobility and ICT.
Florence, Bristol (UK) and San Sebastian (Spain) are 3 cities with similar characteristics and geographical, economic, industrial and services conditions; they have been paired because very experienced in environmental and energy sustainable planning with ambitious targets for the reduction of energy consumptions and CO2 emissions, in line with the EU policies. In each of these cities are already active efficient initiatives and measures to reduce energy waste, but these actions are implemented only in some sectors impacting on energy consumption without an integrated vision. The 3 cities recognized the importance of considering the whole system and engaging the stakeholders in the decision making process related to transformations and sustainability, considering this participative approach as an integral part of their planning procedures. These cities aspire to be part of the “smart cities”, and the involvement of relevant actors cannot play a secondary role.
– Integration of all possible sectors and aspects that are under the municipal influence,
– Innovation widespread as widely as possible: an intelligent city has to be a pioneer in testing
approaches, technologies or innovative services,
– Intervention of the stakeholders in defining ambitious goals, “visionary” targets compared to the
– and Information in terms of ICT as a tool for dealing with citizens and as a support to the
monitoring and control strategies.
Mike, explain us what the “system thinking” is
System Thinking is a methodology which is able to analyze the different needs to be met in a certain urban area calculating the relative benefits and disadvantages of all the elements involved. Using a model we calculate the importance of different types of interventions, both isolated and in interaction with each other, providing a valuable support for understanding a complex problem.
Once completed, the “Bristol smart model” as well as those of Florence and San Sebastian will allow the administrators to calculate the energy flows that characterize each kind of intervention connected to the city, identifying at the same time the efficiency actions which result most effective and with higher consensus. Systems thinking recognises that we can view the world as consisting of highly interconnected social and technical entities. By working with stakeholder groups and building conceptual systems models we are able to develop a shared understanding of how we might go about taking action to achieve certain desirable and feasible transformations in our cities. The methodology for the STEEP project uses group model building workshops to develop shared conceptual models for energy planning. The conceptual systems models are used to investigate issues of energy planning for a city region and develop a set of possible implementation options. These can then be investigated through more standard evaluation techniques such as PESTEL analysis prior to developing a final energy master plan for the city region.
Alessandra, which are the concrete benefits that the STEEP project can provide to the city ofFlorence?
The STEEP project is going to develop an innovative energy master plan for a pilot area first – the Cascine park in the case of Florence – which will be extended afterword to the whole city: it will be made possible by using the participative approach together with the modeling system to select the best set of integrated actions, supporting our analysis in the master plan definition. In this way the stakeholders will be invited to put an integrated approach into life, selecting themselves the sustainable actions to be performed in the next future.
Florence is well known for being a participated city, as evidenced by the town meetings about the structural plan, or those held during the urban regulation or the Sustainable Energy Action Plan definition.
Thanks to STEEP process this interactive aspect will take a step forward: the dialogue is intensified, the actions are finalized, the results measured; it will be possible to demonstrate, quantitatively, how much you can earn and improve the environmental field with the application of good practice or a set of them, for example decreasing the value C02 released into the environment creating a new pedestrian area and / or with the increased use of electric mobility. A logical system will calculate the relevance of different types of interventions, isolated and in interaction with the others, providing a valuable support for the analysis. Once completed, the smart Florence model will be able to evaluate the energy flows that characterize each kind of intervention connected to the city, identifying at the same time the most effective and agreed mix of measures.
With the Open Data we have made available the data and the numbers of the city, now we process and use them to explore the best strategies in the energy and sustainability sector.
In practice we join our forces to achieve a common goal that we can trivially translate into an innovative, sustainable and intelligent city able to better meet the needs of all citizens.
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