Interviews

Interviews

Input received from all (so far) 248 stakeholders and all means utilized (online survey, interviews, workshops) comes from 18 countries and 39 cities. Thirty eight (38) stakeholders (blue color on the map below) with expertise in air quality, health, urban growth migration and disaster management, representing national and regional authorities, urban planners, city level administration, small enterprises, academia and non-governmental organizations were interviewed,  representing 14 cities and 9 countries.

The aim was to retrieve first-hand information on acute urban pressures and expected solutions, along with the specific requirements that best fit their geographic location, assets and needs. Urban issues were established in relation to all themes, and the interviews gave invaluable insights into user needs in the context of city-specific obstacles and particularities.

Select each SMURBS city on the left taskbar to see what stakeholders identified as critical city issues, what the city needs in order to overcome such pressures, and potential city-specific solutions.
Results
Athens, Greece

 Air Quality : 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Elevated levels of air pollution related to traffic and residential wood burning 

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Guidelines on the proper use of fireplaces, widely disseminated 
  • Decision Support System for automatic assessment of health impacts from pollution 

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Failures in mitigating traffic pollution is mainly due to the inadequacy of the public transport system
  • Understaffing inhibits the execution of measurements of gaseous and particulate emissions in necessary direct inspections of emission sources (industry, residences, etc.)
  • Implementation of AQ legislation is obstructed due to inadequate interaction and cooperation between the responsible authorities in Greece
  • Regulation – to dictate the respective measures from the state (e.g. ban of cars in the inner city center) – is missing
  • No official protocol(s) for action are established or applied in Attica
  • No official protocols or legal commitments for collaboration between AQ authorities exist in Athens, and activities between AQ authorities in Attica overlap 

 Urban Growth and  Migration :

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Refugee camps in highly polluted areas 
  • No disaster risk assessment for refugee camps
  • Legal framework for the camps operation is unclear, authorities not coordinated

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Refocusing on the SDG frame and its targets, emphasizing the refugee aspect 
  • Smart phone app for migrants
  • Measures focusing on better integration of migrants
Bologna, Italy

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Disused (abandoned) areas
  • Urban heat islands and urban micro climate (human discomfort)

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Definitions of key concepts on land consumption at national level
  • Indicators on imperviousness, including the mapping of potentially impervious land 
  • Indicators related to the phenomenon of heat islands 

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Updating information on the municipality web portal of interactive maps with 3D orthophotos
  • Lack of resources – infrastructures and qualified professionals – for monitoring activities
  • Better collaboration between institutions on the local/regional/national level
Brno, Czech Republic

 Air Quality:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Traffic, heating of buildings, and biomass burning through open fires

Q: Suggestions of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Regulations of car traffic
  • Energy saving solutions for residences
  • Banning of biomass burning
Bucharest, Romania

 Air Quality:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Elevated car traffic during the working week
  • Shortage of green areas

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Expanding public transportation
  • Increasing number of green areas

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Waste disposal hot-spots
  • Rapid urban sprawl
  • Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect
  • Issues with migrant integration
  • Land use change, densification, loss of green areas, and soil sealing
  • Lack of adequate planning for metropolitan development in Romania and a high demand of residential and office buildings

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Projects aimed at monitoring and/or managing the consequences of urban growth (i.e. UHI, waste management)
  • Studies/research on urban sprawl assessment and modelling
  • Online interactive map of the big cities in Romania depicting green areas and built up spaces
  • Need for regulations on abandoned arable lands converted to built-up areas 

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Maps showing high-potential areas for illegal building in post-fire situations
  • Functional economic areas should be incorporated in policy instead of strict local borders to reflect dependencies between urban centres (e.g. a 30km growth pole)
  • Regulation gap – under the current land regulations, arable lands become pastures/grasslands, easily converted to built-up areas (sprawling) 
  • Lack of transparency and communication gaps lead to under involvement of local communities in the development and implementation of smart solutions
  • Better regulations, protocols and coordination between relevant public authorities in Romania is required

 Disasters: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Earthquakes and fires

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Retrofitting seismically vulnerable buildings
Gothenburg, Sweden

 Air Quality: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Occasional limit exceedances of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in high traffic areas
  • Need investigation into urban densification impact on AQ

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Increasing awareness of AQ issues and encouraging behavioral change (i.e. incentives to favor walking, biking and public transportation)
  • Denser AQ monitoring network utilizing small, low-cost sensors to increase monitoring
  • Online real time AQ data from monitoring stations openly available via website and smartphone app

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Legislation needed to monitor the concentrations and impact of AQ due to large infrastructure projects
  • Regulation/measures to mitigate effects of major national roads passing through the city are not within the city legislative possibilities
  • While clear/established communication paths exist between authorities, no protocols or formal links exist with research and academic institutions outside of specific projects
Hamburg, Germany

 Air Quality: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Elevated car traffic  with the important side effect of enhanced emissions
  • High nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration near streets due to road traffic throughout Germany
  • Winter fine particulate matter mainly from small residential heating in Germany

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Implementation of the strategy regarding an intelligent transport system (ITS) and the adoption of intelligent applications, such as:
    • Adaptive traffic signal control systems
    • IT-supported parking space management system reducing searching traffic
    • Extension of mobility offers using shuttles on demand steered by intelligent route optimizing algorithms
    • Real-time information for passengers, transfer synchronization systems in buses, and parking guidance and information systems
  • Optimization of bicycle routing and improvement of the network of bicycle paths/lanes inside cities in Germany
  • Promotion of public transport use in Germany
  • Controlling emissions of the public transportation sector (i.e. low-emission buses) throughout Germany

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • A major activity to improve (reduce) emissions by optimization of urban traffic and harbor processes
  • Issues surrounding data protection and data privacy, which may reduce data availability and data provided to citizens
  • Legal regulations for automated traffic are inexistent
  • Processes in public administration are characterized by inertia and create time constraints for smart applications
  • Restrictions in contradicting policies (e.g. EU directives) create delays
  • Establishment of national AQ management to deal with the national emission reduction commitments to be achieved by 2030
Kiev, Ukraine

 Air Quality: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Transport emissions (motor transport causes 80% of total air pollution in Ukraine)
  • Inadequate filtering of industrial facilities
  • Overall poor knowledge and lack of AQ data in Ukraine

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Intelligent transportation system
  • Better city planning to mitigate impacts 
  • A dedicated public organization in Ukrainian cities (following the example of Kyiv as a smart city)

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Inadequate acceptance and actual integration of earth observation (EO) data into public authority mechanisms
  • Lack of information from state institutions and enterprises in Ukraine

 Disasters: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Climate change related natural disasters throughout Ukraine

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Disaster management system (including improved medical capacities)

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Overly concentrated migration as a result of non-coordinated settling in cities
  • Loss of green areas, soil sealing
  • Waste disposal hot-spots

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Quantitative information about migrants

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Hilly urban terrain in Ukraine hinders monitoring or construction rules
Leipzig, Germany

 Air Quality: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Poor air quality at roadsides
  • Winter fine particulate matter mainly from small residential heating in Germany
  • Too much individual traffic on the city streets
  • Wild fires plumes 
  • Near gas stations and recycling companies 

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Low cost sensors for citizen AQ monitoring 
  • EO data to identify important/unknown sources of pollutants, graphically displayed on maps

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Winter days with sources of wood heating that emit particulate matter such as soot and polycyclic hydrocarbons
  • Diffuse sources of industrial plants, opencast mines, urban areas, arable land, etc.
Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Air Quality:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Traffic related air pollution

Q: What are specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Inadequate collaboration between authorities and academic institutions 
  • Need of a more detailed spatial-temporal information about air quality
  • Inadequate collaboration between authorities and academic institutions

 Disasters: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Floods, earthquakes, and the release of dangerous substances due to industrial accidents 

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Disaster management information and communication technology (ICT) system for accidents and natural disasters
Monopoli (Bari), Italy

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Illegal building 
  • Diffuse urban expansion and urban sprawl 
  • Loss of green urban areas
  • Urban densification 
  • Illegal dumpsites
  • Inadequate and old infrastructures

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Monitoring activities reinforced by EO technologies
  • Introduce rewards and positive incentives for reduced land consumption

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Integration of crowd-sourced imagery with satellite data, integration of soil sealing products and flood related indicators, and highly potential illegal building maps 
  • Lack of resources – infrastructures and qualified professionals – for monitoring activities
Nanjing, China

 Air Quality: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) pollution, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) pollution and ozone (O3) pollution

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Open access of national stations data, real-time dissemination of air quality and air pollution warnings

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Pollutant emission inventorying needs to be more accurate
Naples, Italy

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Illegal building
  • Diffuse urban expansion and urban sprawl
  • Loss of green urban areas
  • Urban densification
  • Illegal dumpsites
  • Inadequate and old infrastructures

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Monitoring procedures for the territory against illegal building
  • Monitoring procedures to protect the environment/green areas
  • Monitoring of the urban transformations/expansion
  • Citizens should be involved in city planning decision making
  • More and better trained employees in the municipalities

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Lack of technical (IT) competences of the municipal employees
  • Insufficient collaboration between the offices in charge of remote sensing of urban areas
Trieste, Italy

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Diffuse urban expansion and urban sprawl
  • Loss of green urban areas
  • Unmonitored change of land use

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Monitoring infrastructure network and distribution of green areas
  • Citizens should be involved in city planning decision making
  • Mapping of hydrogeological risk areas
  • Census of abandoned industrial land or buildings
  • Mapping of land use and land cover

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Many deviations from the intended city planning make it difficult to control urban growth
  • Public perception of the limitations on land consumption
Venice, Italy 

 Urban Growth and  Migration:

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • Land consumption to build airport, railways, roads, arenas, etc.
  • Decontaminated land with reduced ecosystem value

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Combination of both the urban plans and maps with remote sensing
  • Indicators of the degree of fragmentation and connectivity of ecosystems 

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Better collaboration between institutions on the local/regional/national level
  • It is difficult to reuse abandoned spaces due to their sizes and fragmentation

 Disasters: 

Q: Most urgent urban pressures?

  • High risk of flooding

Q: Suggestion of solutions to mitigate the current urban pressures?

  • Mapping of built up areas for directing water flow in case of hydrological emergencies

Q: Specific city requirements (due to geographic location and local particularities)?

  • Improve collaboration between municipality and regional environmental agency