COVID-19 has shown that urban areas have become the battlefront because of their high concentration of inhabitants and interrelationships between them. These two factors have made cities particularly vulnerable to this pandemic.
In this scenario, it is necessary to respond to the crisis in an appropriate way in order to continue the recovery and reconstruction of the welfare state. In this scenario, local authorities play a very important role and become the first line response agents.
In the current situation, there is a concept that is becoming more and more important: urban resilience, which is defined as “the capacity of a city to anticipate hazards, absorb impacts, respond to crisis, recover and learn from experience.”
Terrassa Prepared and Resilient was born with the vision of turning Terrassa into a resilient city, foreseeing threats, facing challenges and overcoming impacts, leaving no one behind.
Its mission is to train the municipal organization, citizens, companies and entities operating in Terrassa to be prepared to face future crises, recover quickly and learn from them.
This requires effective collaboration between the different agents involved in the resilient management of the city, promoting among them the development and adoption of the best strategies, measures, methodologies and technologies that contribute to the improvement of the urban resilience of Terrassa as a whole.
And all this process with the aim of safeguarding safety, welfare and quality of life, through the management of public services as an interconnected and interdependent network.
Within the framework of the European Commission, the city teamed up with the UPC and CECOT to present its vision of the city within the Intelligence Cities Challenge (ICC), achieving the acceptance of its candidacy. So, Terrassa will receive expert advice for two and a half years in order to prepare the necessary transformation that will allow us to face the new challenges that the future holds.
The ICC is a European Commission initiative that brings together more than 100 cities to achieve smart, socially responsible and sustainable growth through the use of advanced technologies.
Perhaps we wonder how technology can be a determining factor in improving the resilience of a city. However, during this health crisis, we have several of the best examples: many companies have been able to continue their activities thanks to the interaction of their workers via telematics (videoconferencing with Skype, Teams, Zoom, and others); also those municipalities that have opted for the digitization of their services have been able to continue supporting citizens.
One of the challenges of the ICC is to ensure that cities become the engine of economic recovery, create new business opportunities, improve sustainability, and also that they are able to recover their industries and SMEs; and for this it is essential to undertake digital transformation as a transversal key to achieving all these objectives.
With the participation of Terrassa in this initiative, and through a city collaborative process in which the different relevant agents of our municipality are involved, it is intended:
• To promote the health and well-being of citizens.
• To increase urban resilience, related to climate resilience, as well as emergency and disaster management.
• To improve and promote citizen participation, connectivity and community.
• Increase the city’s entrepreneurial fabric in related to startups, SMEs and innovative companies in social and collaborative economy.
As part of this collaborative process, on January 20, 2021, a first workshop was held with the participation of a large number of representatives of key entities in our city, which, due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, and as a protective measure, was devised and carried out telematically, in order to address two key topics:
• To identify the weaknesses and strengths of our municipality, the threats to which we may be exposed and the opportunities that we are presented with.
• To think and discuss about the future of our city, and think about how we want it to be, ideally, in five years.
In this way, knowing what our starting point is and where we want to go, we can define the actions that must be taken to turn this probable future into reality.
This first session was followed by the workshop on January 27, 2021, also via telematic, where even more people participated than in the previous one; this is, without a doubt, a good indicator of the involvement of the several agents of the municipality in this initiative.
Based on the results of the initial workshop, we worked on different aspects, such as the definition of an agreed general vision, the results we want to achieve, indicators that allow us to verify that we have really achieved them and the essential strategies that allow us to develop the necessary actions to be successful. Always without forgetting where we have started from and what our strengths and weaknesses are.
Finally, to show that there is still work to be done, and that a process like the one we are talking about – the transformation of our city towards a more sustainable, socially responsible and resilient future – implies the participation of everyone.
- Urban Resilience. [www.terrassa.cat]
- Intelligent Cities Challenge website
- ICC Concept Note
- Blogs [terrassa.cat]
- COVID-19 in a urban World [United Nations]