5 cities selected as winners of the 2014 Mayors Challenge

Source: ( 22 september 2014
Barcelona, Athens, Kirklees, Stockholm, Warsaw are the 5 smart cities winning the 2014 Mayors Challenge for the most innovative urban solutions.

Five european cities have been selected as winner of the 2014 Mayors Challenge, the competition of Bloomberg Philanthropies to encourage cities to generate new innovative ideas in order to solve mayor challenges and improve city life.

The Gran Prize goes this year to Barcelona, that has taken a 5 milion euros funding for the “Trust network” project, a smart solution to create a social support network. Athene (Greece), Kirklees (Yorkshire, UK), Stockholm (Sweden), Warsaw (Poland) are the other 4 smart cities. Each of which will receive €1 million to support implementation of their unique ideas. The winners proposed solutions that address some of Europe’s most critical issue areas: unemployment, energy efficiency, obesity, aging.

To meet the biggest challenges of the 21st century, city leaders must think creatively and be unafraid to try new things “ – said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

More than 150 top cities from 28 nations entered the 2014 Mayors Challenge. The winning cities were selected based on four criteria: their idea’s vision and creativity, potential for impact, transferability, and viability of implementation. Their evolving ideas reflect a diverse array of complex and common challenges facing cities today:

Barcelona, Spain: Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging

More than one in five Barcelona residents is over 65, and by 2040, one in four will be. As lives grow longer, Barcelona – like many cities globally – is grappling with new health problems and debilitating social isolation. To address this growing problem, Barcelona will use digital and low-tech strategies to create a network of family members, friends, neighbors, social workers, and volunteers who together make up a “trust network” for each at-risk elderly resident. This will help identify gaps in care, enable coordination of support, and promote quality of life.

Athens, Greece: Synathina, a Public Platform for Engaged Citizens
The devastating economic crisis has affected employment, infrastructure, as well as life in urban centers in Greece. Athens will create an online platform that will connect the new dynamic input of civil society with local institutions and local government to collaboratively devise solutions to local problems, ensuring solid foundations and sustainable policies for the revival of Athens’ neighborhoods.

Kirklees, United Kingdom: Kirklees Shares
Budget cuts in Kirklees are eating into government programs and services. The city will embrace the sharing economy to make use of untapped local resources so it can do more with less. Kirklees will pool the idle assets of the government and non-profit sectors – from lawnmowers to trucks, unused space to citizens’ skills and expertise – and make these assets available through an online sharing platform that will allow for borrowing, bartering, and time-banking.

Stockholm, Sweden: Biochar – for a Better City Ecosystem
Stockholm, like many global cities, is confronting the effects of climate change. Stockholm will create a citywide program that activates citizens as front-line change agents to curb this escalating problem. Together, the city and its residents will produce biochar, an organic substance that increases tree growth, sequesters carbon, and purifies storm water runoff. Citizens will bring their green waste to locations across the city for conversion to biochar and, ultimately, redistribution.

Warsaw, Poland: Virtual Warsaw – Urban Information System for Visually Impaired
The blind and visually impaired are too often cut off from their peers and forced to spend huge amounts of time getting around cities. To facilitate mobility for the visually impaired, Warsaw will place thousands of beacons around the city that communicate with users through mobile apps. These tools promise to transform lives, saving the visually impaired hours of travel per day and allowing them greater self-sufficiency.