Digital Innovation in Urban Environments

The emergence of the widespread deployment of advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, sensor technologies, cloud computing, open data, the Internet Of Things and blockchain, has re-invented the way we can manage growth and respond to these challenges. Cities are at the centre of these developments because of the proximity and concentration of people, consumption, construction and mobility. 

Cities need the right attitude, knowledge, skills and tools to lay the right foundation for digital transformation. It is important to recognise the culture, processes and structures that support and accelerate innovation. Simple digital improvements applied to existing solutions alone are insufficient, and being creative is often not enough. Moreover, transformation cannot be based on the success of a technology, policy area, agency, department or third-party service provider alone.

Transformation must, in a holistic manner, take into account the interplay of the various challenges and innovation drivers, both horizontally and vertically, at local, regional, national and international levels. Cities must join forces, work together with businesses, academia, civic society and, above all, citizens. The aspirations for digital transition to solve many of the urban challenges should come from the residents and must be echoed in the strategies and carried through procurement and facilitation to allow new digital urban ecosystems to develop and evolve.

ESPON policy brief "Digital Innovation in urban environments" aims to help European, national, regional and urban authorities, businesses, academia and citizens to better understand how digitalisation and new technologies can be harnessed. It also supports discussions surrounding digital innovation in cities and urban policy during the EU Finnish Presidency (second semester of 2019).