44 Limburg towns and municipalities are to work together to expand the Project Smart Regio Limburg (S-LIM) with TomorrowLab's support. Instead of developing Smart City activities themselves, the towns and municipalities will be able to benefit from knowledge-sharing and increased scale. This is the first time that so many different towns worked together on the subject of "smart cities" in Europe.

2016 Nuhma - Smart Region from Nuhma on Vimeo.

 

It's hard these days for mayors and deputy mayors to see the wood for the trees, overwhelmed as they are with technological innovations that promise to make their communities future-proof. TomorrowLab will act as a neutral catalyst to bring together Limburg's towns and municipalities in S-LIM (Project Smart Region Limburg) so that they can evolve into one smart region. They'll develop a vision together and translate it into concrete applications which can be put to immediate use throughout the region. "It's crucial to develop a regional vision, because the challenges they're facing are huge: combining forces is the most intelligent solution," explains Joachim De Vos, Managing Director of TomorrowLab.

44 participating towns and municipalities, largest collaborative undertaking in the EU

"Can you imagine one smart app that knows the location of all the available parking spaces in Limburg in real time? That would come in handy, wouldn't it? The first fully self-driving cars will form part of the urban scene in the coming decade. They'll drop their passengers in the town centre, then drive out to the suburbs to park and to charge themselves with electricity. They'll bill everything automatically. They'll wait for their owners, or hire themselves out to other customers in the interim. Naturally, a smart concept like that doesn't stop at municipal boundaries. Smart street lighting, too, will only be really intelligent if the whole region shares and uses data to provide energy-saving lighting or react appropriately in emergencies. TomorrowLab will be glad to help drive such efforts with its experience in Smart Cities".

Uniform city platform: ways to prevent fragmentation

The S-LIM initiative is being taken by the Limburg towns and municipalities, through a collaboration between Intermedia and Nuhma. TomorrowLab, as a strategic innovation consultancy, will help these communities to develop a vision and will ensure that they constantly exchange learning and practical experiences with each other. At the beginning of this year, a survey by the University of Liège showed that most towns and municipalities have not yet developed strategies to future-proof themselves.

At the same time, the challenges are so great that collaboration is essential so as to prevent fragmentation. Raf Drieskens, Chairman of S-LIM says: "A town council can't solve an issue like mobility all on its own, after all, mobility doesn't take account of municipal boundaries. That's why we decided to set a good example and work with the Limburg towns and municipalities".

Things like mobility solutions and smart street furniture are the first applications under scrutiny. Naturally, technology is an important driver, but it has to be integrated into the social fabric of a town. One smart street doesn't make a smart city, let alone a smart region. TomorrowLab will take care of that in the role of a neutral catalyst.