ELISE webinar: Location Intelligence for Cities and Regions

Presentation: Location Intelligence for Cities and Regions: preparing the ground for smart places of the future

Published on: 03/09/2020
Last update: 12/05/2021

Check out the recording and supporting slides for the Location Intelligence for Cities and Regions: preparing the ground for smart places of the future.

If you are interested in knowing more about ELISE Webinars you can find further information here.

Structure of the presentation

  1. What are "smart places"? Technical and policy context
  2. Understanding the role of local and regional governments in the provision of services
  3. Location intelligence for smarter local and regional public services
  4. Location Intelligence supporting transformation in smart local & regional projects
  5. Strategies & actions shifting towards smart places


Summary of the webinar

The webinar on Location Intelligence for Cities and Regions presented state of the art and future perspectives on the use of location data and technologies by local and regional governments. The webinar aimed to demonstrate how location intelligence is vital for turning subnational governments into smart places.

The webinar started with an introduction on the concept of smart places by looking first at different perspectives of “smart places” and “smart world”. 

Afterwards, the policy and technological context in which smart places and smart subnational governments operate were illustrated. In the context of this webinar, the EC definition of smart cities was adapted for smart subnational governments: “Smart municipalities, cities and regions are places where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of its inhabitants and business”. 

Regarding technological context, it was stated that local and regional initiatives are rapidly developing and leveraging disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), 5G, robotics, blockchain, and others. However, it is important to understand the local and regional governments’ capacity to deal with these new technologies and deliver new solutions varies greatly. Moreover, to develop smart cities sustainably, a shift in focus is required from a technology-dominated approach to a more human-centric and holistic approach. 

The key message on the policy context for smart places is that digital government and interoperability strategies can only be successful with a solid sub-national component. The latter requires policy alignment between different levels and between generic and more thematic policies.

The second part of the webinar presentation focused on the local and regional governments’ role in the provision of – digital – services. In Europe, there are more than 80.000 local and regional governments, which together are responsible for 50% of public investments, receive 25% of tax revenues and are major public employers. These subnational governments have a wide range of responsibilities in crucial domains such as education, spatial planning, economic development, social affairs, health, culture, recreation and public transport. While there are important differences between municipal and regional governments, but also between governments in rural areas and those in urban areas, all subnational governments play a key role in tackling various urgent challenges: mobility, housing, ageing, climate action, social segregation, environmental footprint, etc. 

From a service delivery perspective, these subnational governments are supporting and interacting with citizens during many key life events, such as birth, starting school, starting higher education or training, transitioning to work, marriage, having a family, retiring, caring for someone, or the death of a loved one. Especially in recent years, they strongly invested in digitalising their services in a drive to modernise, increase their internal efficiency, improve citizen experience and facilitate access to information.

In the third part of the webinar presentation, the study team had a closer look at location intelligence’s role in the delivery of digital services by subnational governments. Local and regional governments increasingly rely on location data and technologies to design and deliver services around key events in citizens and businesses’ lives. Starting or changing schools, starting up a business, building a house and reporting a crime are all examples of location-enabled services provided by subnational governments. 

The recent European Data Strategy enhances geospatial opportunities. Many existing initiatives in the geospatial domain – such as INSPIRE and national Spatial Data Infrastructures – already support many of the key elements proposed in the strategy. Also important is the strong local and subnational component in many of these elements, particularly in the creation of common European data spaces. In this light, the initiative is taken to create a ‘smart communities’ data space.

Location intelligence supports subnational governments in transforming into digital governments, enabling new ways of delivering public value and making services and government procedures digital by design. 

In the fourth part of the presentation, three cases were presented in which location intelligence enables digital transformation in smart local & regional projects. Each of these cases addressed a particular type of challenge in the realisation of smart – local and regional - places:

  1. The ObjectTypeLibrary from the Flanders Regional Public works Department focused on the challenges related to the “physical infrastructure and standardisation
  2. The FINEST Twins platform for cross-border collaboration between Helsinki and Estonia addressed the establishment of a “collaboration ecosystem
  3. The IIsac-Watts smart energy solution in France illustrated how location intelligence is critical to improving the “quality of Life citizens and the competitiveness of a rural area”.

The fifth and final part of the webinar presentation provided a set of recommendations on how to make the shift towards more intelligent subnational governments. While the subnational governments themselves clearly play a role in this transformation process, national governments and the European Commission can support this process greatly.  


The webinar concluded by emphasising the role of location intelligence in transforming local and regional governments into smart governments. Changes and innovations drive this transformation in the way governments are dealing with geospatial data, using geospatial technologies and organising their processes.

  • Traditional governments are characterised by a higher number of closed data silos, including independent data formats and data models and a lack of mechanisms to enable effective data sharing. To become smart governments, local and regional governments should become data-driven organisations, relying on near real-time data from many different sources and delivering open data through open standards
  • Traditional governments make use of more traditional GIS solutions to support the management, analysis and visualisation of location data. Smart governments take advantage of technological advancements that significantly change how they collect, manage, exploit, and share location data. They rely on relevant emerging technologies in the geospatial domain, such as automation, IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, immersive technologies, etc.
  • Smart government organisations also establish and rely on solid data ecosystems to fully unlock location data's value in collaboration with other key stakeholders. In this way, they distinguish themselves from the governments relying on the traditional top-down models of decision making and service delivery. 

These transformations were demonstrated through three different cases of location intelligence for smart local and regional governments. What these cases also showed was the decisive importance of location interoperability for realising smarter governments. Data from various sources and different standards need to be combined, integrated, and shared with relevant stakeholders, including citizens. The interoperability challenges go beyond the semantic and technological interoperability and include several organisational and legal interoperability aspects. 



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