Romania can become a “Smart City” regional hub and in three years at the most it could end up as a European role model for the development of this concept, president of the Romanian Smart City and Mobility Association (ARSCM) Eduard Dumitrascu said in an interview with AGERPRES.
“Throughout our history we have often proven that we are a country rather prone to extremes, even if we like to think about ourselves as being well-balanced and grounded. In Romania, when it came to stealing, they even pilfered the paint off the walls, and now on the other hand we are given as a positive example in the world for the fight against corruption. The same will be with the Smart City concept in Romania: whereas now there aren’t many projects of this type we could talk about, I believe that in two or three years Bucharest, and Romania as a whole, will be a highlight on the map of Europe as a Smart City development extreme, because there is the relevant determination of the local authorities, there is money aplenty both in national budgets and European funds, but many large foreign companies are also looking with interest at Romania,” Dumitrascu said.
“The Romanian Smart City and Mobility Association was established relatively recently, this year, but we have been moving among the Smart City concepts and the ideas for the development of cities and local communities for almost two years now through the various projects we carried out. The Association itself is like a catalyst, like a generator for Romania’s smart city industry. The Association has no departments and we have no intention to act as providers of Smart City services. We want to shape this industry in Romania and are glad that we have already succeeded in somehow implementing the concept or terminology of ‘smart city industry’,” said Dumitrascu.
“The public-private partnership needs to be re-defined and at this point we should mention Alba Iulia, the first properly done project in Romania. We also need to defend the interests of the members of the Romanian Smart City and Mobility Association, and apart from this, we initiated as early as last year a project called ‘Smart City Industry Awards’, under which, at the end of each year, we reward the companies, people and projects that produced value added in the country’s communities. We also have other events where, in partnership with the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry we attempt to bring at the same table the central and local authorities, the providers and integrators of such services, because only by liaising these factors can these projects be generated.”
Eduard Dumitrascu says that “Romania already has Smart City components, but the problem is that there hasn’t been an institution or a mind to integrate them (…) from tax payment to sustainable public transportation.” Citing the example of Bucharest, Dumitrascu says it’s the only European capital city where one needs three different passes to travel: one for the subway, a different card for the above-ground transport and yet another card for traveling to the airport.
He also argues that the Smart City concept needs to develop in connection to the country strategy which lays stress on tourism, agriculture, the automotive and IT industry as generators of value added. A Smart City hub needs to be set up, integrated with these elements, Dumitrascu explains, adding that when Smart City, as a concept and industry, will become a government priority, this hub that can bring value added by exporting these products will also be in place.
Approaching the subject of the public-private partnership as a way to boost the development and implementation of Smart City projects, Dumitrascu said that “for the time being, the public-private partnership does not work properly in Romania, but then again there’s the best practice example offered by Alba Iulia. The implementation of an integrated Smart City concept in Alba Iulia is a perfect example. I say this is how all the projects in Romania should work. We have the central public authority, represented by the Ministry of Communications, we have the local authority represented by the Alba Iulia City Hall, that not only got involved, but also understood and supported what has to be done, lining up an extraordinary team as regards development, implementation and attracting European funds, and then we have the private environment. We must understand that this is the perfect trio for developing these projects,” Dumitrascu says.
“I want to believe that the Alba Iulia project can become an example for other cities too. I also hope that by next December, when we celebrate the Great Union centennial, we will see other projects at various stages of implementation. There is a very active IT community in Cluj that got involved in many implemented projects, or others about to be implemented. There they clearly have a vision for developing and creating a smart hub. In Timisoara or Oradea there are also various smart-type projects already developed or under way,” Dumitrascu said in the interview