Smart Cities


Below is information on the smart cities-related work E-Forum is currently engaged with. 


EU-China Smart Cities Dialogue


Relations between the EU and China have intensified in recent years, partly as a consequence of China’s economic growth and increasing importance on the world stage. China’s rapid development has had an effect in a wide variety of sectors. Sectoral dialogues have helped to develop a solid foundation for the EU-China relationship which is now characterised by increasingly close policy co-ordination in many important areas. The European Union strongly encourages these dialogues, which are an important area of support to the overall relationship with China.

The dialogues have constituted an effective tool for further widening and deepening of EU relations with China, for exploring new areas of common interest, for exchanging know-how, and, especially in the area of economic reform, EU models and best practices. Sectoral Dialogues have covered a wide spectrum of fields and sectors, like Education and Culture, Environment, Energy, Employment and Social Affairs, Information Society, Public Health, Agriculture, Regional Policy and Food Safety. Sectoral Dialogues has also paved the way for businesses and other sectors by eliminating potential regulatory obstacles and through raising awareness and facilitating contacts. Regular exchanges between specialists, officials and the business community have served to boost mutual understanding and provided the substance for further developing the EU-China strategic partnership.

The EU-China Policy Dialogues Support Facility (PDSF) is an initiative co-funded by the European Union and China to facilitate and support current and future implementation of Policy Dialogues between the EU and China on a broad range of key sectors and issues, with the overall aim to strengthen strategic relations between the EU and China. The second phase of the EU-China Policy Dialogues Support Facility (PDSF II) started in March 2012 and ran for 4 years. It followed on from PDSFI which ended in December 2011.

The PDSF continues to provide a unique and flexible mechanism to support a wide variety of activities in the context of Sectoral Dialogues between the European Commission’s Directorates-General (DG) or European External Action Service (EEAS) and Chinese Ministries or State Agencies.

Smaller activities often prove more effective than conventional projects, provided that they can be quickly mobilized and respond to an immediate demand. PDSFI implemented 26 activities with 62 separate events over five years, involving 19 Chinese Ministries and State Agencies and 12 DGs with a total budget of almost €6.6 million. More than 200 senior policy-makers and experts were involved in these activities. The launch of the continuing follow-up phase manifests the obvious demand of continued support to the dialogue partners in the EU and China.

China and the EU attach great importance to cooperation in the field of Smart Cities. At the end of 2011, in Chengdua and in the context of the 3rd ICT Dialogue Meeting between the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the European Commission's Information Society and Media Directorate-General (now DG CONNECT), Vice Minister Yang Xueshan and Deputy Director General Zoran Stančič jointly determined to develop “Green Smart City” cooperation, to establish an expert framework for promoting EU-China Smart Cities cooperation, to select pilot cities from China and the EU and establish a technical experts group to carry out related research and cooperation. 

The Policy Dialogues Support Facility (PDSF) has supported the following actions:

  • An inception seminar was scheduled for May 2013 to start up the Smart Cities Technical Expert Group, drawn from the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology (MIIT), the Chinese Academy of Telecoms Research (CATR), DG CONNECT, the EU Delegation, the EU Chamber of Commerce (EUCCC), private sector operators active in the ICT sector, plus officials from the pilot Chinese and European cities as speakers.
  • A comparative study providing an overview of best practises and lessons learned in the development of smart cities in China and Europe. The comparative study lead on to the publication of a White Paper on smart cities cooperation to form the basis of further cooperation between MIIT and DG CONNECT under the ICT Dialogue and considering inter alia a definition of “Smart City” which could define more precisely that Smart City projects are those that have a strong focus on “making best use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to make the critical infrastructure components and services of a city in the areas of administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation and utilities more aware, interactive and efficient."
  • An experts’ meeting conducted in one of the Chinese pilot cities in September 2013 in order to review interim results of the comparative study with representatives from municipal government bureaux, local and international companies and research organisations. The experts’ meeting brought together European experts and practitioners in the field of Smart Cities to visit their Chinese counterparts in the selected sectors.
  • A study visit to Europe visiting a selection of pilot cities in October 2013. The study assignment supported the comparative study by bringing practitioners from MIIT, CATR and the pilot Chinese cities together with their European counterparts to assess, first-hand, the implementation of smart cities initiatives in the respective sectors in Europe. 
  • A high-level dissemination event taking place in another of the Chinese pilot cities in early 2014 as part of the next ICT Dialogue meeting. The dissemination event involved the main partners including MIIT, DG CONNECT, CATR, the EU Delegation, EU Chamber of Commerce (EUCCC) and international and local ICT companies plus possible participation from representatives of the EU Member States.


EU-China Smart Cities Project



One of the key outcomes of the Dialogue referred to above was the EU-China Smart Cities Project in which experiences of 15 leading European cities and their 15 Chinese counterparts were shared. The results are available here.


EU-China Smart Cities Lab



An agreement is in place between several organisations involved in the UK-China Smartcities initiative to develop a Joint Smart Cities Laboratory, co-located in Shanghai and Manchester. Digital China are funding the Jiao Tang University to establish a smart cities laboratory there, whilst the agreement calls for a similar initiative to be set up in Manchester to foster deeper collaboration around current and future best practice in smart city design and technologies. The three universities of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford along with eForum form the basis for the UK side of the Joint Laboratory.

The involved parties will seek to share and undertake research and development to jointly promote technological innovation and industrial development in a number of areas that effect the urban environment, including, but not exclusive to, the following:

  • Public services;
  • Intelligent information processing;
  • Intelligent homes;
  • Green transportation;
  • Smart grids;
  • Internet of Things technology;
  • Energy saving and environmental protection;
  • Public participation;
  • And smart governance and the “joining up” of different disciplines in a shared approach.

Among the aims of this collaboration are:

  • To deploy respective expertise in scientific research to support the development of projects, including Digital China's Smart City strategy and the Manchester EU Lighthouse Project;
  • To conduct basic research and application development in the fields of smart cities, citizen service, interoperability, electronic certification, city operation analytics and management, smart home appliances, green transportation, smart grid, Internet of Things technology, energy saving and environmental protection;
  • To strengthen the cooperation in terms of personnel training and student internships;
  • And to improve the levels of innovation among smaller businesses and start-up companies and therefore achieve mutual benefits and make greater contribution to the information communication technology industry in China and in the EU.

To summarize, the involved parties will:

  • Build the Joint Smart Cities Laboratory;
  • Strengthen UK-China science and technology cooperation;
  • Promote UK-China education and personnel training cooperation;
  • And conduct academic exchange and cooperation.


UK-China Smart Cities


UK-China Smartcities


The Chinese have requested support in creating a model for the construction of their next 100 smart green cities. This project will contribute policies and standards to that blueprint, whilst giving British partners a leading role in this field and the leading role in the EU-China Smart Green Cities initiative, launched by the Chinese Premier and the EU President. The Chair of ACSI has specifically asked for UK support for smart city policies. The more influence that this project can have on shaping future policies and standards, the more openings will be available for suppliers of the technologies required and for creating further opportunities for the British cities and initiatives involved.

The project addresses a very important aspect of the sustainability agenda, in developing government structures which are able to “join-up” the often disparate factors which contribute to a green city – energy, transport and housing – and to make policies more holistic and less silo-focused. Britain has the professional service strengths to actively engage in the next stages of China’s development in a global “smart city” market which will be worth around $400 billion per annum by 2020. The “quick-win” and long-term collaborations to be instigated by this project will underpin the expected progress.

The project is funded by UK government’s Prosperity Programme. The Prosperity Fund is the Foreign and Commonwealth’s fund to tackle climate change, strengthen energy security and promote an open global economy in key emerging economies.


The European Innovation Partnership - Smart Cities and Communities (EIP - SCC)


The EIP-SCC brings together cities, industry and citizens to improve urban life through more sustainable integrated solutions. This includes applied innovation, better planning, a more participatory approach, higher energy efficiency, better transport solutions, intelligent use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), etc. It is a key initiative with regards EU-China smart city cooperation.

E-Forum is heading EIP-SCC Commitment 5410. Commitment 5410 - utilising the experiences and practice of the highly successful UK smart cities Bristol and Manchester - is focused upon citizen-centricity, a key concept within Chinese smart city strategy, as well as within the EU. It also covers integrated infrastructures and processes across energy, ICT, Transport, integrated planning, policy, regulation and management, standards, baselines and performance indicators and metrics.

Emphasising privacy and interoperability, Commitment 5410 offers E-Forum a unique opportunity to integrate its identity management expertise and involvement with the STORK project into the smart cities sphere. It also fully capitalises on E-Forum's vast experience as a mediator and of forging strong and long-lasting partnerships between EU and Chinese stakeholders, most notably as part of the EU-China Smart Cities project.


E-Forum has been involved in a variety of projects. Examples of past projects can be found on our repository page.