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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
From the connected car to the smart lamppost: technology can improve life in every city
ICT Key Enabling Technologies at the Service of European Citizens and Cities
Rome, 30 October 2014
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I am delighted to be here today. This is my penultimate day in the job as EU's Digital Commissioner. And let me tell you – there is no better example of why this post has mattered to me. Why it matters to every European.
I have been 5 years in post, in charge of digital technology for the EU. And one of the most amazing discoveries is just how these new innovations underpin everything we do: profoundly and universally.
Enabling new opportunities. Opening new options. Driving productivity and performance.
Here we have two great examples. Photonics – the amazing things you can do with light technology. And electronics: the chip innovations that power every new digital tool. From the lasers used in ultra-precise manufacturing, to the digital devices that could take and diagnose a blood sample in a matter of minutes.
Soon we could see these transforming everything we do. From transport to tourism. Everywhere: from the farm to the factory. Connecting everything, from your car to your community.
And remember lighting is a significant proportion of our energy use. Halve that consumption - you could close down one power station in ten.
No wonder these innovations are taking off. Photonics is a 300 billion euro global market, growing 8% a year, with Europe taking 20%. In electronics, we take 11% of worldwide production; I'd like to see that figure double. We lead the world in manufacturing equipment; but in other areas we are almost absent.
Now we need to take our strengths and build on them. Take our excellent, world-class research and use it to boost the competitiveness of our industry. That's the best way to create new jobs, open new opportunities, tackle new challenges.
Nowhere is that clearer than in cities.
Cities are the home of two thirds of our people, and three quarters of our carbon emissions.
Imagine if we could cut waste, cut traffic, cut congestion. Imagine if we could make every European city and community smarter, greener, more pleasant. Using the power of digital technology.
Imagine small-scale, renewable energy integrating fully into the energy network. Public transport that gives energy back to the grid. Bins that tell you when they need to be emptied.
All these and more are possible if we use - and integrate - new innovations.
In many areas we are already doing so. And we are seeing the difference: for public authorities, for cities, for the people who live in them.
Here are just three examples.
First, the ILLUMINATE pilot programme is showing the innovations from new kinds of lighting: in museums, public spaces, urban areas. Today it launched in Genoa. Across Europe too, from Belfast city hall to the Lithuanian Sea Museum, people are seeing the benefits: more versatile, better quality, lasting longer with lower maintenance, cutting energy use by over two thirds.
Second - tomorrow I will unveil new lighting in the Sistine Chapel. With modern technology refreshing centuries-old frescoes. As part of our LED 4 ART programme. Showing the detail and beauty of those artworks to the millions who flock to see it each year. Saving energy too!
And third – 22 partners across Europe are rolling out smart lampposts across Europe. From Almere in the Netherlands, to Barcelona in Spain. Lampposts that don't just light urban streets, but offer environmental sensors, a charging point for electric cars, and a Wi-Fi hotspot besides. Working together we can make them cheaper, greener, more viable.
Those are just three of the projects we have underway. But that's just part of our work.
We have partnerships for smart cities, photonics, electronics; thousands of stakeholders working together. We have over 2 billion set aside to invest in research and innovation for key enabling technologies. We have new opportunities: from pre-commercial procurement, to inducement prizes, to platforms to share knowledge and experience across Europe.
We can learn from new innovative funding models: like "lighting as a service". And we have pilot projects that show that these technologies work, and the huge benefits they can offer to every city and every citizen.
In short: we are making the tools available, putting them in your hands and in your service. We are showing how to use them. Now you need to take them up.
And that is my message to you today. We have the technology, the talent, the projects and the programmes. The only thing missing is the courage to dare. To innovate and deploy. To show what these new technologies can do for ever city, and put them in place to benefit every citizen. Thank you.