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Future Cities: Shaping Europe from the bottom up

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The 2016 edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine looks at the cities of the future in Europe. While the EU is grappling with challenging problems - Brexit, migration, the economy, terrorism, to name a few - many European cities are reinventing themselves and tackling these problems in their own way.


EU CITIES TRY THEIR OWN 'UBERS' As some places struggle to deal with the impact of firms like Uber and Airbnb, other cities are embracing the change and seeking to learn. By Eszter Zalan rustrated that they no longer really knew what was happening in their own neighbourhood, Gaspar Horvath and a group of friends clubbed together to set up an online platform to share infor mation - and anything else from ladders to a helpin ing hand - with others in their area. Two years later, more than 40, 0,0000 0 people in Hung ngar ary are using the platform called OurStreet. with others, sha ring is the value in itsel f, owner ship is unnecessary,” Horvath told EUobser ver. cr ea te a more liveable community, and thinks suc h pl atfo rms could be an ideal communication channel between the loca l government and citizens. Horvat h is among a new gen er ation of entre repr pren eneu eurs atte tempting to bridge the gap between en the sha hari ring an d th e old worl d of gov over nmen t bureau crac acie s. The so-called sharing economy has resha shaped how ww we live and work, while sha hakin king gu pt rad ition onal li ndustr tries ies. Pho oto: o: Nucl eo Citi es have reac ted to these cha hang nges in technolo gy an d economy in a var arie iety of ways – som ome have have welcomed them as a boost to the economy. But some experts are looking closely, and hoping that cities learn deeper lessons from these so-called disruptors. 38 — FUTURE CITIES OCTOBER 2016

in the summer of 2009. Photo: Windwärts Energie Retailers such as Amazon are looking to make home deliveries by drone. Photo: ninfaj introduce whole new ways of collecting customers,” network of European cities, told EUobserver. The “secret” to the success of these companies is provide the right platform for sharing. Smartphones make them easy and fast to use, while the market is “For cities it is more interesting if a service pulls together resources from a neighbourhood that built communities,” she said, “these have real added value to the cities.” emerging in cities where Uber was banned. DIGITAL DEMOCRACY Eurocities is overseeing research into the possibility of using digital platforms to improve public services or to assess what are the core issues important for decide on the use of public spaces. “Local governments are usually not very innovative,” research institute in Germany, who studies urban engineering and development. But he highlights some who are making headway. services based on data monitoring, and providing MORE SHARING And there is more to come. online sharing services might come up is energy. A loosening of regulation on sharing renewable energy resources in Germany by 2018 means people will be able to rent out energy from one day to another. economy could thrive could be health, with care for elderly people for instance enhanced by a webbased community. “These tools are likely to continue to develop to connect people. We can look forward to a more inclusive, more connected, more shared, more fun For that, she added, city leaders need the power to support and regulate such initiatives so that they can FUTURE CITIES OCTOBER 2016 — 39

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