Five follower cities have kept up with developments in GrowSmarter’s Lighthouse Cities to learn and benefit from the solutions implemented in the project. The Romanian city of Suceava is one of those and has dedicated itself to a wide range of the GrowSmarter solutions.
We met Dan Dura, GrowSmarter Project Coordinator for Suceava, to hear about the city's experience as a follower city:
Why did Suceava join GrowSmarter as a Follower city?
Being in European projects since 1999 has made it very clear that the transfer of knowledge and sharing of best practice is essential for the city of Suceava. We realised we wanted to move on and become a smarter city.
What city governance and stakeholder structures facilitate replication?
The local City Council and Town Hall were very supportive of our ambitions and provided approval of both the project financing and the replication plans. Without them, nothing would have been possible. I should also mention the local university because they had some of the technical skills that are needed. In addition, it takes the Environmental Agency's and the landowner associations’ support to be successful in the long run.
Which replication steps in GrowSmarter have proven to be effective for the process?
Smart public lightning and smart waste management is looking very good. The Electric vehicles Charging stations and some of energy efficiency measures the same.
Which replication steps have proven to be less effective?
I have to mention the energy efficiency measures in private buildings – especially in private apartments. That is not going as well as we expected it to do. It tends to be a longer process when dealing with private owners. It is necessary to please all, but also very difficult to get going as we cannot impose anything on them. That makes communication important. We have to speak to them about the facts and the results.
How would you advise other cities to identify and select a useful measure for replication based on your experience in GrowSmarter?
First, you have to identify your needs. You have to find – and this is very important – financial resources or financial schemes. From my point of view, it is also very important that the replication design is based on local realities. You have to adapt things and not only transfer directly. All solutions must be adjusted to local realities.
How do your assess the replication potential of smart solutions within Suceava?
We have been very successful and I am 100 percent sure of this. We achieved major replication in Suceava in major projects – without direct funding from a programme. We have been able to find the financial resources to replicate measures ourselves.
For example, we have been able to reduce the electricity consumption for public lighting for the past two years by over 60 percent by deploying smart lighting - this also leads to lower CO2 emissions of course. We have replaced all the lampposts in Suceava – in total 4200 units – to LED systems and created a tele-management system to adjust intensity of light and control it during the night. That is quite an achievement. The Smart Lighting solution was designed from the beginning as an integrated infrastructure project including both the hardware – LED-substitution – and the software for energy management.
What resources, knowledge and capacities are generally needed to replicate solutions and how can they best be transferred? I believe that our dedicated and professional team in town hall has been crucial. It is also important that decision makers are receptive – it’s very important. Finally it is essential to have reliable partnerships with local stakeholders. It may sound like a fairy tale but working well together with real partners makes a difference. We have been able to find the proper solution for our needs. We have been able to design many projects and had many public consultations before deciding what is important.
How have you, as a follower city, been able to attract new users and cities to the different solutions? We have been able to disseminate GrowSmarter specifically and Horizon 2020 generally through other European and regional projects. We have been partners in more than six projects during the GrowSmarter project. Both within Interreg and Urbact we have shared experiences and transferred knowledge while making plans for the future. We have also tried to link achievements with local, regional, national and European partners. We have proven that replication can be done. I know that some cities in the north-eastern parts of Romania have started working to replace their public lighting system. At least five cities have also applied for funding to build charging stations for electric vehicles. I cannot link it straight to us but we have been in contact with a lot of cities to inspire them.
Has Suceava achieved the goals it had when it joined GrowSmarter as a Follower city?
When we joined I had little idea about what to expect, but I think we have achieved more than the initial expectations. Back in 2014 you can imagine how little we knew about what we would be able to achieve: We have installed more than 4.000 units of smart public LED lighting and we are the first Romanian city having charging infrastructure for electric cars on the streets. Those are actual results and we have acquired 13 E-vehicles for the municipality since last year and we have had 19 new private electrical vehicles in Suceava compared to just one in the past. This proves that we are moving in the right direction.
How has Suceava worked with methodologies in the project?
It is about the general way of working when we design a project. Firstly, we define our priorities. Secondly, we find the best practice example. Thirdly, we adopt or adjust the examples to our own local realities. Finally we find the financing. We have been able to find financing from outside the local budget. I think that is an important roadmap
Any concluding remarks?
Respectfully said, I think we can talk about Suceava being a state of the art example when we talk about replication. A lot of people in our city have been willing to dedicate time and effort towards becoming a smart city by working in the GrowSmarter project. All that hard work is really starting to turn into positive changes for our citizens.
Read much more about all the replication being done in Suceava in the city's replication report.