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Brussels unveils plan to become ‘smart city’

20:50 21/03/2023

The City of Brussels has officially presented its strategy for transforming itself into a 'Smart City', meaning one that leverages technologies to both make services more efficient and improve the overall quality of life in the Belgian capital.

The idea is that new tech can help both Brussels residents and businesses while reducing environmental impact.

Some 48 projects were defined around seven policy areas as part of the strategy.

The plans involve not only municipal departments, but also companies, research institutes and civil society. An initial project call invited such actors to apply for up to €30,000 in subsidies.

One project comes from the Brussels administration itself, which is developing a mapping tool that can serve as a means to make Brussels a "10-minute city", showing where all basic facilities are located within a maximum of 10 minutes on foot or by bike.

The digital map would allow policymakers to assess the impact of projects and identify gaps in the matching of supply and demand.

For another project, the Brussels-North district plans to be transformed into an "energy-positive district", or a neighbourhood where more energy is generated than consumed, including through large-scale renovation, the installation of renewable energy and technological energy management systems.

Also included are plans for increasing digitisation at schools, including through providing laptops to all pupils from 4th to 6th secondary grades, in addition to offering training for parents around Smartschool and coding training for pupils.

A mobility project also aims to improve the supply of parking and delivery spaces by collecting data through sensors and scanning cars.

Brussels is hardly alone in its ambitions to become a ‘smart city’ – a number of other European cities are unveiling similar strategies to make services both greener, more high-tech and more efficient.

Written by Helen Lyons