Insights on Urban Digital Transition and Sustainable Computing
|05 Jun 2023
On 24th and 25th May, Vilnius University (VU) hosted the second of the two Arqus R&I workshops on “Bridging the Green and Digital Transitions”. The event brought together researchers from Arqus member universities and experts from other public and private sector organizations. Presentations ranged from the climate-neutral impact of cities to the sustainability of cryptocurrencies.
Dr. Holger Hoff, a researcher at the University of Graz (Austria) started the event with a presentation on the digital urban twin transition concept and its potential for coherence with the green course. Out of 112 cities participating in the EU Mission for climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, Vilnius, Tauragė and five other cities hosting universities in the Arqus alliance take an active part in it. These are Dublin (University of Maynooth, Ireland), Leipzig (University of Leipzig, Germany), Lyon (University of Lyon 1, France), Padua (University of Padua, Italy) and Wroclaw (Wroclaw University, Poland). Cities signing the Climate City Contracts will be awarded a “Mission label” to help them access additional funding from EU programmes, the European Investment Bank and private investors. Mission Cities will also benefit from opportunities to apply for international cooperation projects in science and innovation activities and to share experiences between cities across EU Member States. The EC’s European Horizon programme will invest €115 million in mission-related projects for the 2023 calls.
According to Dr Hoff, the interlinked green and digital transformation should occur in cooperation between city governments, bringing together experts, academics and the private sector and involving the public. Inter-university synergies are currently being promoted by the Arqus Living Labs organized by the Arqus Alliance in three clusters – Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation, Climate Change and Green Deal, and European Heritage and Identity.
Professor Remigijus Paulavičius from the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics at VU discussed the prospects for the sustainability of cryptocurrencies. One of the biggest problems with bitcoins is the use of energy from non-renewable sources. However, Prof. R. Paulavičius presented a more sustainable way of using cryptocurrencies. An example is the second largest cryptocurrency infrastructure, Ethereum, which implemented a software update called Merge in September 2022. This shift is due to adopting a ‘proof of work methodology instead of the energy-intensive ‘proof of stake’ methodology previously used to record transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.
Bogdana Oliynyk, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science from Kyiv Mohyla Academy, discussed the situation of her fellow academics during the war. According to her, Kyiv had only four quiet nights in the first three weeks of May. During all the others, the citizens were under Russian attack. The Mohyla Academy also suffered during the war. However, the highest losses were sustained by higher education institutions in the east and southern areas of the country, closer to the front line. According to Prof. Oliynik, academics not fighting on the Ukrainian front are subjected to constant physical and emotional fatigue, stress and uncertainty. Many are exhausted due to the lack of sleep, as the attacks occur at night. The continuous power cuts in the cities make it difficult for them to use the technologies.
The invited stakeholders introduced their activities on urban sustainability. Agnė Eigminienė, Director of the Public Institution “Climate Neutral Vilnius”, presented the coordinated areas related to the creation of a climate-neutral city and the implementation of the transformation of Vilnius towards a climate-neutral city by 2030, as foreseen in the mission mentioned above “100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities”, which is financed by the European Commission.
Eligijus Bujokas, a data analytics expert from “Vilniaus Planas”, presented the services of the Drones’ Airspace Observation Centre. This centre not only analyzes traffic in the capital but also implements surveillance of waste container sites. A representative from a public transport platform, “Trafi” Tomas Smagurauskas spoke on “How Mobility as a Service (MaaS) empowers future mobility” about the public transport app Trafi and the changes it is bringing in Vilnius and other cities. The app aims to improve getting around the city, and the implemented solutions allow real-time information on public transport, ticketing and journey planning for different modes of transportation.
The event also featured a presentation on EC funding opportunities in Horizon Europe. Furthermore, participants were introduced to Arqus funding opportunities and available tools: Arqus Seed Funding launched in June 2022 is available until October 2023 to finance mobilities and events conducive to the development of joint research projects; also the Arqus Innovation fund for collaborative projects, the Communities of Practice, Twinning mobilities and, Individual partners’ initiatives. Vilnius University introduced the initiative to fund 2 secondments of its researchers for 7-10 day stays at Alliance universities bridging AI and CC and encouraged other Universities to join this action.
On both days the participants were given the opportunity to work in two topic-based groups on Urban Transition and Sustainable Computing, moderated by Dr H. Hoff and Prof. Dr R. Paulavičius accordingly.
Over 30 people attended the event, including VU Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies researchers – Assoc. Prof. Ernestas Filatovas, Dr Marco Marcozzi and Dr Mindaugas Juodis, VU Institute of Informatics (MIF) representatives – Prof. Dr Aistis Raudys and Assoc. Prof. Linas Petkevičius, VU Šiauliai Academy researchers – Assoc. Prof. Laura Šukienė and Assoc. Prof. Jūratė Valuckienė.
The first workshop was organized by Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 in March. These two events in Lyon and Vilnius aimed to foster collaborations between researchers from the Arqus universities and an interdisciplinary approach integrating different research fields such as natural sciences and engineering or computer science. The purpose was to bridge insights from various disciplines and connect research on green and digital transitions in a mutually beneficial manner. Topics were open to input from different viewpoints and backgrounds, combining expertise and offering interdisciplinary exchange on selected focus topics.
The Arqus Research and Innovation project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 101017448.
News prepared by the team of the Science and Innovation Department at Vilnius University.