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What is a smart city?

We are in Évora, in the city’s historic centre, in the year 2013. More than 90% of the buildings are over 40 years old. Of the homes to be found here, 2,424 are primary residences (56%), 739 are secondary residences (17%), and 1,163 are unoccupied (26.8%). There is a negative trend. From its peak in 1930, when 22,446 people lived in the city’s historic centre, to the last Census in 2011, when there were only 4,719 inhabitants, the area lost 80% of its population. The process of population decline began with the first large fall in 1940. The ageing rate, i.e. the proportion of the population aged 65 or over, almost doubled between 1991 and 2011, from 203 to 380 citizens. The population declined between these dates in the three parishes, falling from 7,842 to 4,719, which represents 3,163 fewer inhabitants (a reduction of 40.3%). At this point in time, Évora, a medium-sized city and a district capital, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, is seeking to revitalise its historic centre. With an area of ​​1,307 km², subdivided into 12 parishes and with a total population of 56,596 inhabitants, a project is needed. Évora’s historic centre, considered to be of major national cultural heritage, is ageing little by little. Wouldn’t it be convenient for the city to prepare for the challenges of climate change?

In cities, the highest consumption of energy takes place in relation to buildings and transport. Reducing CO2 emissions, in a first phase, was an easy decision, which cost almost nothing: Évora Municipal Council imposed speed limits in the historic centre and restricted the circulation of vehicles in the city centre. It was also convenient that, at this point, the EU had granted subsidy number 314.164 for Évora’s urban modernisation and technological development as a smart city. We’re speaking of a sum of 2,629,865 euros allocated to four European cities: Trikala (Greece), Cesena (Italy), Nottingham (United Kingdom) and Évora (Alentejo, Portugal). Technical and academic partners have come forward. In Portugal, the partnership was set up between the Faculty of Science and Technology at Lisbon’s Nova University (FCT) and EDP – Energy Distribution. The project lasted from December 2013 to March 2017. It is extremely positive that the university presented a tool at the time: Integrative Smart City Planning (INSMART), which receives EU support through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research, technological development and demonstration on the topic of Smart Cities and in the area of New Production Technologies, Energy and Environment (including Climate Change)… Four years later, at the end of the project (2017), a five-point implementation was set up, scheduled to be completed by 2030. This document links the historic part of Évora to the new neighbourhoods, not only geographically, but also in the fight against climate change, as well as in the areas of public lighting, residential buildings, transport and urban mobility, waste, buildings and the municipal transport fleet.

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