POCITYF project blows out its first candle

26 Oct 2020 — One year ago in the beautiful Portuguese city of Évora, a team of 46 partners from across Europe set the POCITYF project in motion.

One year ago in the beautiful Portuguese city of Évora, a team of 46 partners from across Europe set the POCITYF project in motion. The EU-funded smart city project POCITYF helps historical cities in their efforts to become more efficient, sustainable and liveable. During these first 12 months, the partners have been busy laying the foundations for designing and rolling out a city transformation process in its Lighthouse cities (LH) – Alkmaar and Évora – and its Fellow cities (FC) – Bari, Celje, Granada, Hvidovre, Ioannina and Ujpest. As we blow out our first candle, we rewind the tape and have a look at the results achieved so far.


Set up: identification of stakeholders and regulatory frameworks, definition of KPIs

Our team has identified stakeholders and rated their level of power and interest for each city. We’ve also assessed the expected impact of each solution we’re putting forward along with readiness levels for each partner. And in both the Lighthouse and Fellow cities, we’ve looked closely at how people may react to and engage with our ideas and measures. You can view the key results of these surveys in our report. The local and European regulatory landscapes have been mapped out so that we can keep ahead of any changes along the way (more information here).

In parallel, we’ve been working on the project’s “city vision” and “energy transition track“. This is all about aligning sustainable city methods and ideas with sustainable development as set out by the European Union and the United Nations.

The project’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring methods are now set out. The KPIs will allow us to track how well our measures are performing in the Lighthouse cities and to assess the overall success of the POCITYF as a smart city project. They cover 8 key areas: a) Energy; b) Environment; c) Economy; d) ICT; e) Mobility; f) Society g) Governance; h) Propagation. In this respect, we’ve published a scientific paper on how to establish project-specific KPIs using the experience-based approach that we’ve developed as part of the project.


The Positive Engagement Strategy Framework: a tool for citizens engagement

To engage with the public, local communities and stakeholders, we’ve decided to adopt the Positive Engagement Strategy Framework (PESF). This offers a systemised and flexible way to develop citizen engagement strategies, enabling partners to:

(1) address the citizen engagement levels, the goals and the context in each city;

(2) learn about and devise strategies with others, to empower citizens so that they play active and ongoing roles. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve had to use online platforms and phone calls to reach citizens instead of interviewing them face to face. Our partners who work in local communities have played a pivotal role in this respect as they could still identify and invite people to participate in the study.

Work on mapping the project’s “innovative solutions” has been launched. This involves organising them into domains and macro-groups. For instance, we have a domain called “natural resources and energy” for which we have energy production technologies and management/monitoring technologies. We’ve identified 6 domains and over 20 sub-domains, with many more macro-groups.

In parallel, we’ve mapped stakeholders involved in peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading and we’ve set out two models for the P2P trading platform: one where the utilities are also energy traders (thus doing their business-as-usual), and another one where the utilities are not included as participants in the peer-to-peer market. All the above work is part of the project’s “Business Models across Circular and Sharing Economy Pathways” strand.


The set-up of the demo sites in Alkmaar and Évora

In Alkmaar the local partners have been preparing to demonstrate the project’s pioneering measures in the districts De Meent, Woonwaard Highrise, Bloemwijk and GasFreeWorks. “It is fascinating to see and experience that each location entails its own dynamics and issues in terms of planning, technical preconditions, citizen involvement and procedures to be followed. What has also been striking is that new insights at some demonstration sites have already had to adjust the plans” says Alkmaar’s site manager Martijn De Vries. One such example was the plans for introducing a heat network in Woonwaard Highrise and Bloemwijk. They turned out to be technically and financially unfeasible. So now the heating network will be set up for an apartment complex on Dillenburgstraat. “This shows that with a flexible attitude, creativity and teamwork, we can still fulfil the goals of POCITYF” continues M. De Vries.

In Évora All four Energy Transition Tracks have progressed, including the design and characterization of the building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions to be deployed in Évora Municipality’s buildings and the data platform architecture which will underpin the monitoring infrastructure. “The first year of the project has been a thrilling adventure. Évora ecosystem’s stakeholders and partners have been an important catalyser of POCITYF solutions, joining efforts to create a more sustainable and healthy city” says Évora’s site manager Joao Formiga. The three PEBs (Historical Center, Valverde and Industrial Park) encompass different challenges, but with vast replication capabilities. Historical Centre’s solutions have been paving the way for the demonstration of a positive block in the context of a cultural heritage area.”


Joining forces with other projects

For greater impact in the project, we’ve produced a clustering action plan on working effectively with other Smart Cities projects, heritage initiatives and H2020 BRIDGE projects. Some joint activities have already taken place such as a workshop on “P2P energy platforms” with the SPARCs project and a workshop in collaboration with Europa Nostra at the European Week of Regions and Cities on “How cultural heritage contributes to the EU Green Deal”And other online events are in the pipeline including a session on “How to overcome regulatory and social acceptance-related barriers of heritage sites against Smart Cities solutions’ deployment” during the Sustainable Places event, and the participation to the virtual exhibition of the ROCK Open Knwoledge Week in October 2020.

Also, social media campaigns, jointly organised with the cluster of smart cities projects, have been rolled out to raise awareness on the topics of sustainable and inclusive mobility (#WeMoveSmart) and to show the smart solutions that our cities have been developing to face the Covid-19 pandemic (#SmartCitiesHelp).

POCITYF workshop on P2P energy platforms during the conference on Smart and Sustainable Planning For Cities and Regions 2019

A working group on ‘Smart Connected Communities for Positive Energy Blocks in Cultural Heritage Areas’ is being created under the guidance of Évora and EURADA. Other historical cities will soon be able to join. We’ve already held a knowledge transfer webinar on how to overcome legal and technical challenges in making cultural-historical heritage more sustainable.

During this first year, we’ve produced our communication and dissemination plan along with a video presentation and leaflet. The project website is now online and we’re on LinkedIn and Twitter too.

Last but not least, the work on the identification of exploitable results has also started with the aim of classifying individual and joint solutions developed by each partner and ensuring their sustainability in the long term.


We’ve just entered the second year of POCITYF and many more news and progress are expected. Don’t miss any future updates: subscribe to our newsletter,  follow us on Twitter/ LinkedIn or contact us!