“What makes a Smart City a Liberal Smart City?”
For the first time, experts, decision-makers and entrepreneurs from all over Europe came together in Sofia for the “Smart Cities and Mobility Forum”. Regarding content and concept, the event was co-organised and supported by the foundation’s project office in Sofia. In his speech, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Paqué, the Chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), emphasized the foundation’s commitment to the development of liberal, sustainable and citizen-friendly solution approaches for smart cities.
Original article published on freiheit.org, on March 28, 2019.
Urban air makes you free” was a famous maxim of the Middle Age, but also today, many people prefer urban over rural life. While in 2018 already around 72% of the Europeans lived in cities, this number is still higher in other regions of the world. The process of urbanization continues worldwide and more and more people move to metropolitan areas and cities, hoping for increased professional opportunities, better services and more freedom for self-realization.
At the same time, digitalization as well as the climate change further fuel the rush on urban centres. In Europe, the search for qualified specialists, new customers, and the necessary infrastructure draws especially the ICT industries and start-ups more closely together in the cities. This trend is set to continue in the future and poses massive challenges to municipalities, urban planners and decision-makers.
“Smart Mobility” concepts, which are based on information and communication technologies, sustainable solution approaches and progressive politics, can decisively improve mobility on the local level. To develop “Smart Cities”, especially the dialogue between the different actors is of paramount importance. The FNF pursues this approach in its activities and supports the first Smart City and Mobility Forum in Sofia on March 26 as a partner for the conceptualisation and content development. The event is built on the partnership between the editor of the weekly newspaper “Capital” –Economedia–, the municipality of Sofia and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and enjoys the support of numerous international partners from industry and research.
In his opening speech, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Paqué explained the liberal understanding of the catchword “Smart City”: “From the liberal perspective, a city is defined as an “intelligent city” if digital approaches are utilized for the empowerment of the citizens and if technological solutions and software make political processes and the communication with the authorities easier and more transparent.”
With the aim of developing sustainable and intelligent solution approaches, the FNF promotes the networking of various stakeholders in the context of cross-border education programs in the region of South Eastern and Eastern Europe since 2013. The project activities foster close cooperation between municipalities, industry and civil society through the establishment of networks. Forward-looking initiatives like the Smart Mobility Forum in Sofia or the Smart City Education Initiative (SCEI) in the Western Balkans illustrate how sustainability, innovation, and mobility can be advanced in a target-group oriented, citizen-friendly and liberal manner.