It is not a news that cities are facing new and daily challenges to become smart cities. The term ‘smart’ has been described widely as a reality that involves the coordination of investments in human and social capital, sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of resources through participatory action and engagement. From these statements of experts and international organizations emerges this number of factors that can works only in a coordinate process. Indeed, The EU, Governments and associations such as Code for America consider the connection and collaboration among these elements, as new interdisciplinary opportunities to improve services and encourage development. However, what happens when this new wave of smartness, meets internet and technologies advances? Such new players in the path toward smart cities definitely enlarge geographical economic and social boundaries. Real time and worldwide are the parameters of measuring, and this contribute to create communities around collaborative the sharing economy where base of commons in code is larger than ever before. Users generated contents, even modern communication infrastructures foster the emergence of Bottom-up-Broadband networks, giving answers to the challenges that cities are dealing with, and most of the time cannot manage with traditional methods. A larger and deeper involvement of the community around commons goods seems to reduce the gap between the need of becoming smarter cities and offer to this demand, which is provided by citizens themselves. Thus, the combination among businesses, services, housing, leisure and lifestyle and ITCs, social involvement of citizens in public services, high technology used as a means to coordinate and facilitate urban growth, is the key to develop a network of people dedicated to making government services and cities simple, effective, and easy to use.
The Commons4EU project, indeed, is about a new way toward the opening innovation concept. It has the purpose to foster this new wave of innovation in cities and create new cutting-edge digital services. This project is building two main areas of technological services, which would provide citizens participation toward the path of smartness and sustainability. An initial core team of seven cities will be the pioneers of this project: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Helsinki, Manchester, Rome and UK-NESTA (UK cities involved in the project through NESTA). These cities will work together in two main areas, for the implementation of this ambitious vision:
- Code Commons
This is about the development of collaborative web projects following the methodology of Code for America based on principles such as the empowerment of residents to take an active role in their community, the collaboration between government staff and foster forward-thinking approaches to solving city problems. These collaborative web projects will work by opening existing code in the participating cities and leveraging the European EPSI platform, following a certain model. In particular, web/mobile applications should enable cities to connect with their constituencies in ways that reduce administrative cost and engage citizens more effectively. This kind of support would help to move in the direction transparency and collaboration, and would be replicable for other cities.
- Bottom-up-Broadband Commons
Exploring with users in real-life environments, new technologies, such as: Community networks, Sensor integration into Wi-Fi networks and fiber deployment as commons.
The entire experience of the project will be capitalized by giving birth to two pan European organizations: Code for Europe and BuB for Europe that will carry further implementations of the project. This would mean making significant steps toward the idea that cities smartness is not only a common good itself, but also a European common good, and that each citizens could make the difference.