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Alba Iulia Smart City Pilot Project
City/Region : Alba Iulia , Romania

Alba Iulia Smart City 2018 is a pilot project which aims to make Alba Iulia Municipality the first smart city in Romania. it is no surprise the project is taking place this year, as it celebrates 100 years of Romanian unification, which took place in Alba Iulia in 1918.

The smart city project covers, among others: smart lightning systems, smart parking, smart mobility,  e-governance, smart administration, 5G networks, smart energy consumption, smart businesses, health, smart education, LoRaWAN technology and innovation labs.

Through the project  Alba-Iulia will also offer visitors and residents the opportunity to connect to WiFi hotspots in public places and on public transport and to run e-errands on the municipality's website.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityWater resources and air quality
Public spaceLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Context
e-AlbaIulia app mock-up

Alba Iulia Municipality has a population of 74,000 people and is situated in the Centre Region of Romania. The aims of the municipality include: the sustainable and inclusive provision of public services for the inhabitants of Alba Iulia; promotion of social and economic development; promotion of a safe and healthy environment; and the encouragement and facilitation of  the democratic involvement of citizens and NGOs in local governance. 

Similar to other cities in Europe, Alba Iulia is also working, at the local level, to transform their city into a smart city. Alba Iulia is doing this through testing 100 smart solutions that cover local needs in order to transform the city into a more attractive, sustainable and liveable city.

Through the smart city pilot project the municipality hopes to increase civic engagement and improve the line of communication with citizens, digitalize public services, and to improve the quality of life. 

In Action
Custozza Monument in the center of the Citadel - after

The pilot project is implemented by the Municipality of Alba Iulia, in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Communications and Information Society. This project is unique in Romania due to the fact that it is the first smart city project developed jointly by the national government, a local public authority and private companies. It is also unique in that the private companies who propose smart city solutions are responsible for covering the costs of testing and implementing the solutions.

Similar to many other smart city projects, Alba Iulia Smart City will use smart technology and data to address present and future city challenges related to resilience, sustainability, social and economic development, energy and environmental issues. The effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in Smart City projects has been shown to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance the quality of life, delivering a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for citizens. As such, the project will greatly benefit the inhabitants of Alba Iulia Municipality, as well as the investors and the tourists visiting the city. 

A major objective of the pilot is to identify local needs, available resources and best solutions for a future large-scale implementation of the Smart City concept, through the collaboration between local authorities, institutions, universities, companies and volunteers. Alba Iulia Municipality managed to establish a lot of partnership agreements with representatives of the private sector (over 20 companies already signed cooperation protocols), and to provide the overarching management and coordination of all the smart solutions developed as part of the pilot so that they are well integrated and compatible with one another, as the concept of a smart city requests.

So far, based on numerous official partnership agreements with various companies (ranging from well-known multinational leaders to small local innovative companies), the Municipality is successfully implementing tens of solutions (90 projects contracted at this time, with 35% of those almost implemented), covering practically all main smart city verticals agreed by EU. 

The stakeholders involved in our transformative path are: local authorities, institutions, universities, companies, consultants and volonteers.

The next stage of the project will involve the implementation of  larger scale solutions.

Results
Connectivity in Alba Iulia Smart City photo
  • 228 Wi-Fi hotspots providing secure Internet access in public areas such as main touristic areas of the city, bus stations, schools, university etc.
  • 15 transport lines managed by the public transport authority in Alba Iulia, equipped with secure Wi-Fi for travellers and real-time access to information regarding location, speed, and direction available to local authorities. In a year, more than 10% of the Alba Iulia population connected to the Wi-Fi in the busses, generating 2TB of data and an average time connection of 30 minutes.
  • A solution for communicating with residents via Wi-Fi hotspots and the e-alba iulia app. These are an integral part of the e-democracy initiative for the city, through which people can give feedback to the City Hall regarding local issues. 
  • Using the data generated by the City Analytics solution (FullScreen Digital, Innovation Labs 2014 winner) to optimize the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
  • A LoRa WAN infrastructure to connect applications and smart objects (gathering data from over 600 sensors in the city).
  • A solution for measuring air quality: uRadMonitor provides information on the level of pollution in the city and its surrounding area.
  • Promoting tourism through 250 beacons (Zoniz) installed in 225 popular locations (museums, the university, the city center, restaurants, statues, cathedrals etc.) to facilitate an interactive visiting experience. The beacons have a user friendly interface through e-alba iulia application - a virtual touristic guide. 
  • Management of public lighting via 101 devices provided by the company Flash Net on street lamps to remotely monitor and control the light intensity and schedule. This also provides real-time information on public electricity consumption and alerts for malfunctioning lamps.
  • A digital classroom containing devices like tablets, digital educational content, and resources, as well as a digital class book - in all 20 schools in Alba Iulia.
Impact

The effectiveness and impact of the Alba Iulia Smart City pilot project resides in:

  • better internet connectivity for the students, local citizens and tourists (free and high speed internet). People are connecting to the free Wi-Fi and indirectly contribute to promoting the city through social media, in turn helping the municipality to increase the quantity and quality of its digital marketing content in a so called strategy of "user content" and "harvesting content" by sharing pictures and texts on the owned channels of online communication.  
  • enabling reductions in transport issues such as congestion and pollution while monitoring the traffic congestions and crowded spaces through a City Analytics platform.
  • enabling the capacity to raise the quality of information for urban dwellers by providing data about air quality: uradmonitor.com/alba
  • helping local start-ups to grow by providing access through APIs to LoRaWAN collected data and giving in this way a basis to develop new apps.
  • helping local start-ups by initiating the program StartUp Plus: over 37 new start-ups are assisted in creating a business plan and to receive 44.000 EURO.
  • Alba Iulia Smart City pilot project is focusing on the business environment: transforming the city throught smart solutions into a start-up launchpad. 
  • The smart lighting solution reduced the costs of public lighting by 50% already.
  • The e-AlbaIulia app is helping a lot of new-commers to Alba Iulia by being a virtual guide to the city. Also, it is a very useful tool for the hospitality sector, to promote their offers through the app. 
  • 7 smart surveys conducted in the captive portal of the Wi-Fi solution on 15 busses already gave the municipality a great and useful feedback from the citizens, demonstratig the necessity of smart governance in a smart city. 
  • the open data platform (under construction) will provide useful data for creating future strategies.
Challenges and lessons learned
Custozza Monument in the center of the Citadel - before

A smart city pilot project is a mainstream concept and a very hot topic nowadays. But when it comes to implementing a large number of smart solutions, one can detect all the weaknesses the city and the municipal services have. We have a lot of patrimonial buildings in the city, so it was a challenge to put smart equipment on their walls. The team must very committed and dedicated, otherwise the implementation of the project could suffer. Developing relationships and partnerships with companies is a very smart project in itself (lesson learned).  

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