Today, common focal areas of Smart Cities are the reduction of pollution and traffic overload, and the introduction of open models for basic public data. However, it is clear that Smart Cities need to go beyond these (necessary) upgrades related to control tasks and public data. As Richard Florida (2005) famously demonstrated, the leading force of economic growth worldwide are cities that foster a “Super-Creative Core”, i.e. the combination of high-tech industries with media, design and arts. Therefore, it is the guiding principle of this project that Smart Cities can only become a success if they also become Smart Creative Cities, i.e. by employing open platforms and Future Internet infrastructures to become thriving regional, European and worldwide centres of media, arts, leisure and urban discovery activities. SPECIFI will scale up the rich but fragmented creative assets in Europe by linking the Creative Cores with other cities and regions through regional and European Creative Rings.
Creative Industries are those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and combine the production and commercialization of creative content. They include a.o. design, advertising, film and video, music, performing arts, printing, publishing and broadcasting companies. Creative Industries lie at the crossroads between the arts, business and technology, making them a source of competitive advantage. Today they are no longer the product of wealth but the origin of it. Globally, Creative Industries are forecast to grow, on average, by 10 per cent a year (UN, 2004). In Europe, the core Creative Industries already contribute no less than €860 billion to total European GDP (i.e. more than the food or chemical industry) and represent no less than 14 million workers.
In Europe, the Creative Industries typically consist of SMEs and even micro-enterprises or semi-professionals. They are strongly concentrated in cities, yet they exhibit a number of weaknesses vis-à-vis US or Asian competitors, i.e. a lack of focus of part of the Creative Industry professionals on sustainable business models, a lack of easy-to-use, yet advanced and interoperable technologies and tools, and a lack of a single European ‘creative market’.
The main issue tackled by this project is therefore to capitalize on one of the key strengths of European cities and professionals, i.e. their cultural and creative richness and diversity, while overcoming some of their key weaknesses, i.e. fragmentation, a lack of technological tools and platforms, and a lack of sustainable business models. The promise of employing highly advanced, so-called Future Internet platforms and infrastructures in a ‘smart’ and ‘citizen-centred’ way, is to forge creative linkages (1) between citizens, public administrations, creative content and service developers, and ICT businesses, (2) between the city core and the larger region that is within its direct ‘cultural reach’, and (3) between cities across European borders.
SPECIFI will demonstrate the positive impacts of a European Creative Ring of Smart Cities and Regions, with real-life Future Internet (Fiber-to-the-Home and wireless) infrastructures, with real-life users and producers, and in 5 real (certified) Living Labs active in 3 smart cities and their surrounding regions. The project will foster the delivery, promotion and participation of creativity and culture (media, arts, leisure and urban discovery services),, yielding concrete and measurable effects at the city, regional and European levels.
Ultimately, the SPECIFI pilot will combine (1) connected smart areas – locally, regionally, and internationally, (2) open Future Internet platforms and infrastructures, and (3) innovative arts, media, leisure and urban discovery services from the Creative Industries in the following manner:
1) Partner Living Labs will organise pilot experiments in three (inter)connected city-regions: Kortrijk city – Flanders region (Belgium), Barcelona city – Catalonia region (Spain), and Trento city – Trentino region (Italy);
2) Partner institutions, application developers, Creative Industries SMEs and research centres will deploy and interlink open platforms (enabled by fiber-optic as well as wireless infrastructures) to engage citizens and SMEs in the co-design, testing and bringing to market of various creative services. This will yield insight into what kind of services people are really interested in, participating in, and are potentially willing to pay for, when they can use Future Internet technologies at their homes or on the move;
3) Partner Smart Cities and Regions will work to condition, scale up and plug existing and new co-designed creative services so that partnering and aspiring urban areas can easily connect to the Creative Ring and boost their economic as well as public role;
4) Partner academic institutions and consultants will use the results from the pilot trials to help create a public-private partnership that incorporates a variety of differing, validated business models for creative content and applications, which show real, measurable impact, and can be ported to other cities, platforms and infrastructures because of adaptiveness and technology neutrality.
• Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology
• Stad Kortrijk
• i2CAT fundació privada Internet e innovació digital a Catalunya
• Generalitat of Catalonia
• Institut de Cultura de Barcelona
• Alcatel Lucent Italy
• Interplay Software
• National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
• The Egg
• European Network of Living Labs
• Alcatel Lucent Belgium
• Gruppo Editoriale Trentino