The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) organised another Geographical Chapter Meeting in Bulgaria on 16 May 2022. This meeting brought together 15 representatives from ICC cities of Sofia, Haskovo and Vratsa and representatives from the public sector.
The three ICC cities presented their experiences, including obstacles they faced and best practices. During their presentations, they talked about their experience within the ICC and the solutions they developed.
- Haskovo presented its work relating to the thematic track of ‘Upskilling and Reskilling’. They chose this thematic track to respond tothe demographic crisis affecting the city. After an exploration phase which established a clear overview of the situation, the city came up with different strategies. These strategies include a strategy for education at a municipal level and a strategy for upskilling and reskilling with a focus on adults. In addition to these two strategies, the city developed a web platform to connect businesses with the labour market.
- The city of Sofia explored the thematic track of ‘Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration’ to answer its challenges. In the framework of ICC and the thematic track, the city developed several solutions, including the creation of an e-platform to facilitate citizens’ participation and the development of technical solutions for informing the citizens. Ana Georgieva and Velko Velkov, representing the city, mentioned ‘Sofia chooses’, an initiative for projects linked to the improvement of the urban environment. The projects are proposed and selected by the citizens via online voting.
- The last two ICC thematic presented were ‘Green Economy and Local Green Deals’ and ‘Green and digital transition in tourism’ with the inputs from Vratsa. Vratsa developed three solutions to address their sustainable tourism challenges, which include the creation of systems for the digitalisation of information spaces and the digitisation of museums’ artefacts amongst others. The platform ‘Open Vratsa’ was presented in addition to these solutions to promote the city as a tourism destination. To tackle its sustainable challenges, the city developed a web platform to raise awareness about separate waste collection and prevention.
The participating ICC cities agreed that their participation in ICC is happening at the right moment, as many cities in Bulgaria are a bit behind regarding the digital skills needed for their digital transformation. They are therefore quite content with the experience. Following this Geographical Chapter Meeting and as the result of the meeting, they will organise another one dedicated to the financing aspect of their solutions with a focus on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and Regions for Growth Operational Programme.
Even though the thematic areas covered by the three ICC cities are different, they acknowledge the usefulness of the exchange as it shows best practices and challenges cities may face. In addition, they agreed that this type of meeting is interesting as it opens new opportunities for collaboration. Further, it was recognised that ICC is valuable for showing best approaches to developing solutions.