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New solutions for smart cities thanks to open data: Enel X awards challenge winner

New solutions for smart cities thanks to open data: Enel X awards challenge winner

Enel X launched an Open Innovability® challenge to support sustainable urban transition and improve the sustainability of smart cities through open data, while contributing to SDGs 9 and 11. Enel X has awarded one winner for their innovative and sustainable solution.


In 2021, 56% of the world's population lived in urban areas and were responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. In its World Cities Report 2022, UN-Habitat estimates that around 68% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, highlighting the importance of so-called smart cities in leading the energy transition.

To support the evolution towards sustainability and smart cities, we must be aware that open data has been and continues to be the cornerstone of these developing smart cities that are quickly becoming part of our daily reality.

Enel X Global Retail is the Enel Group’s global business line active in the areas of energy supply and efficiency, with a portfolio of products and value-added services to encourage more independent and sustainable energy use. As a global leader in the development of innovative solutions to support the energy transition, Enel X Global Retail provides consumers, businesses and cities with a modular and integrated offer built around customer needs, promoting electrification and digitalization as drivers for creating unique value. The global business line offers energy services to around 64 million customers every day endorsing a sustainable approach, based on the principles of the circular economy, inclusion, accessibility and innovation, in order to provide communities, businesses, and institutions with the necessary tools to drive the energy transition.


Challenging cities for a sustainable future

Enel X's objective in launching this challenge was primarily to support a sustainable urban transition, applicable to all municipalities regardless of their size, by leveraging open data and institutional references.

When defining the challenge, Enel X focused on four main areas: Firstly, street lighting: improving performance and/or simplifying operation and maintenance. Secondly, architectural lighting evolution: enhancing the visual impact of historic and valuable buildings. Thirdly, urban mobility: supporting improved mobility in urban areas, including electric buses. And lastly, city analytics: generating analytics of actionable indicators and insights to help the public administration plan and manage its services in the most effective way possible, improving the quality of life of citizens.


Challenge winner: 15-minute city topic

The winning solution proposed a concept based on the 15-minute city topic: Cities in which everything you need is within a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride. The winners and Enel X worked on a new prototype to explore the data and after validation of the pilot, Enel X investigated new sources, data and models, and devised algorithms from scratch to address the scope.

After a beta version to collect feedback from municipalities and end users, the new 15-Minute City Index solution designed by Enel X was fully published on Enel X's YoUrban portal in December 2021. The solution was made available free of charge to all registered Italian Public Administration units, to support municipalities in their urban planning, policy and actions. Through an interactive and user-friendly map, Italian cities have the possibility to assess their situation in order to progress towards a 15-minute city model, while identifying areas of improvement through a data-driven approach.

The solution supports sustainable urban transition by leveraging urban planning to increase proximity to reduce travel and therefore emissions. Moreover, this model helps to raise the city’s resilience and the quality of life of its citizens.


Together for a smarter open data use

Through this challenge, Enel X guides the ecosystem on the path of open data valorization to generate benefits for cities. Helping administrations create a sustainable urban environment is one of Enel X's main objectives. The winner of this challenge is fully aligned with these goals.

“This is why after the awarding we decided to start a collaboration to reshape the concept in a pilot project – and successively we re-engineered the solution to reach the nationwide scale up, and we keep on bringing them on board for the scientific validation of the outcomes,” explained Sergio Gambacorta, Head of Smart City at Enel X.

To overcome obstacles and move towards a sustainable future, we need cross-cutting solutions that integrate sustainability throughout the value chain. Smart cities are no longer futuristic: they are becoming a reality that is here to stay.

Through our Open Innovability® model, we collaborate with startups and entrepreneurs to imagine a more sustainable future. Want to join us?

Check out our open challenges!