€78m in public funding to stimulate smart cities

On 17 July the Council of Ministers approved two new official announcements for public funding to stimulate smart cities, with a budget of €78m, forming part of the Plan for Smart Cities under the Digital Agenda for Spain. These two lines of funding are designed for local, regional and autonomous community administrations and are a continuation of the 2014 ‘I Official Announcement for Smart Cities’. They are the ‘II Official Announcement for Smart Cities’ and the ‘I Official Announcement for Smart Islands’.

The ‘II Official Announcement for Smart Cities’ has a budget of €48m and, unlike the first call, will be open to any local entity in Spain with more than 20,000 inhabitants (city halls, municipal associations, island and regional councils and delegations), as well as the single-province autonomous communities. The public entity Red.es will finance up to a maximum of 80% of the activities scheduled under the different beneficiary projects, with a maximum budget of €8m per project.

The initiatives submitted should stimulate industry and involve quantifiable and time savings or improvements in the efficiency of public services, improved accessibility, creating innovative projects that fall within the competencies of local entities and that can be exported to promote interoperability between the administrations, taking their potential for reuse or replication to other entities and creating technological spaces with interoperable ICTs environments.

The first official announcement was only open to entities from the Autonomous Communities of Andalucia, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura due to limited ERDF budgets. A total of 37 candidate initiatives were submitted, of which 14 were selected.

Smart Islands

The ‘Smart Islands’ programme benefits from a budget of €30m and is open to every local administration that manages public services in an entire territory on any island in the Balearics or Canaries. The goal is to finance initiatives that comprise the smart island strategy, contributing to improved public services in the region that are designed to mitigate the negative effects of insularity, through the use of ICTs. The maximum budget per initiative is €10m and the financing will be 100% covered by Red.es.

Status of the National Smart Cities Plan

This Smart Cities plan is the ninth specific plan under the Digital Agenda for Spain and was approved last March with a budget of €153m. On 15 July, during the event to set up the Sector Forum for Smart Cities, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism announced the increase of this figure up to €188m with the aim of expanding its activities and giving them greater scope.

The Plan involves a substantial reform to the stimulus policies and helps the deployment of Smart Cities that has taken place to date, through four areas of activity: governance; financial aid for local entities and industry; internationalisation; and the development of technical and legal standards.

To identify the degree of progress of the plan and future lines of action, the MINETUR has drawn up a report to take stock of the programmed activities. According to this report, 50% of the plan is already in its execution phase, 46.2% is undergoing preliminary works and 3.8% has been completed.

The activities already being undertaken include the drafting of a white paper by Red.es on smart cities and the said official announcements for Smart Cities and Smart Islands. Among other initiatives is an official announcement from EOI/Segittur for Smart Tourist Destinations and the announcement on efficiency and sustainability from the IDAE, the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving. In addition, the EOI, Spain’s School for Industrial Organisation, has already completed an urban laboratory and a project for the efficient management of water and energy.

Co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The official announcements for funding approved by the Council of Ministers may be co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion within the European Union and correct imbalances between its regions.