Michael Bloomberg's Bloomberg Philanthropies revealed the winners of its first European edition of the Mayors Challenge. More than 150 top cities from 28 European nations entered the competition, which asked participants to send their most innovative ideas that address Europe's timely pressing issues like unemployment, energy efficiency, obesity, aging, and improving government efficiency.
Out of 21 finalists, Barcelona took the Grand Prize for Innovation and €5 million to support their proposal to create a digital + community "trust network" for each of its at-risk elderly residents. The winning cities also include: Athens, Greece; Kirklees in Yorkshire, UK; Stockholm, Sweden; and Warsaw, Poland -- who will each receive €1 million for implementation of their ideas.
Michael Bloomberg congratulated Barcelona via a surprise phone call from Paris:
In addition to prize money, each winning city will receive technical assistance, expert coaching, and a trophy specially designed by renowned artist Olafur Eliasson.
Learn more about the winning ideas below.
Winning cities were selected based on four criteria: their idea’s vision and creativity, potential for impact, transferability, and viability of implementation. Their evolving ideas reflect a diverse array of complex and common challenges facing cities today.
Barcelona, Spain: Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging "More than one in five Barcelona residents is over 65, and by 2040, one in four will be. As lives grow longer, Barcelona – like many cities globally – is grappling with new health problems and debilitating social isolation. To address this growing problem, Barcelona will use digital and low-tech strategies to create a network of family members, friends, neighbors, social workers, and volunteers who together make up a "trust network" for each at-risk elderly resident. This will help identify gaps in care, enable coordination of support, and promote quality of life."
Athens, Greece: Synathina, a Public Platform for Engaged Citizens: "The devastating economic crisis has affected employment, infrastructure, as well as life in urban centers in Greece. Athens will create an online platform that will connect the new dynamic input of civil society with local institutions and local government to collaboratively devise solutions to local problems, ensuring solid foundations and sustainable policies for the revival of Athens’ neighborhoods."
Kirklees, United Kingdom: Kirklees Shares: "City governments everywhere face tightening constraints on resources alongside rising aspirations from ambitious citizens. Kirklees wants to stimulate and operate a new sharing economy to maximize untapped local resources and do more with less. The city will pool idle government assets – from vehicles, to venues, and citizens’ skills and expertise – and work with non-profit sectors to make these assets available through an online platform that will organize and allow for borrowing, bartering, and time-banking to benefit both programs and residents."
Stockholm, Sweden: Biochar - for a Better City Ecosystem: Stockholm, like many global cities, is confronting the effects of climate change. Stockholm will create a citywide program that activates citizens as front-line change agents to curb this escalating problem. Together, the city and its residents will produce biochar, an organic substance that increases tree growth, sequesters carbon, and purifies storm water runoff. Citizens will bring their green waste to locations across the city for conversion to biochar and, ultimately, redistribution.
- Warsaw, Poland: Virtual Warsaw - Urban Information System for Visually Impaired: 'The blind and visually impaired are too often cut off from their peers and forced to spend huge amounts of time getting around cities. To facilitate mobility for the visually impaired, Warsaw will place thousands of beacons around the city that communicate with users through mobile apps. These tools promise to transform lives, saving the visually impaired hours of travel per day and allowing them greater self-sufficiency."
"The 2014 Mayors Challenge is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first in Europe after a successful inaugural competition in the United States. Cities that entered have resident populations ranging from fewer than 250,000 residents to more than 1 million, and represent 28 countries across Europe. Finalists were selected from 155 applicants and their proposed solutions illustrate both complex challenges and common urban issues across cities and regions. The selection committee is comprised of experts in innovation and urban policy who also are from 11 countries across Europe."
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