The European Commission recently announced the ‘Digital Cities Challenge’ which is open to EU member states. The fifteen cities selected will receive a 14 to 18 month program of support in the form of policy advice, coaching, and facilitation from experts with local and international experience – to help them develop and implement digital strategies that can ‘transform day to day life for residents, businesses, workers, and entrepreneurs’. The Commission expects that by the end of the program the cities will have developed a strategy and action plan to move towards digitization, have strengthened the community of interested parties within their municipalities, and have created a network of partners who will be able to offer mutual support and advice in the future.
Participating cities will also have access to assessment tools for digitalization, training, and a large networking pool, including fellow cities, strategic stakeholders, and Commission networks and platforms. In addition to the selected fifteen cities, the Challenge will support a broader community of cities who wish to participate using their own resources.
“The question is how quickly cities will change and embrace digital technologies – not whether they will. With the Digital Cities Challenge, the European Commission is challenging city leaders to make their cities better places to live, more productive, and more innovative,” said Markku Markkula, first vice president of the Committee of the Regions.
The first cut-off date for applications is November 24th, 2017. Applications will be evaluated with four criteria: relevance, digital ambition, impacts, and resources. The Digital Cities Challenge is funded by the EU’s COSME program for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).