Six Questions to our Replication Cities: Warsaw


Six Questions to Marcin Wróblewski
Head of Sustainable Development Unit, Air and Climate Department, City of Warsaw

Tell us about Warsaw’s journey towards becoming a smart city

Warsaw’s smart city journey began in 2010-11. At the time, our mayor was part of the high-level group working on the EIP-SCC consortium framework, and then on its strategic and operational plans. When we joined Sharing Cities in 2015, we had already done a lot research and thinking around our smart city priorities and how these would feed into Warsaw’s urban revitalisation plans.

What were, in your opinion, the programme’s key successes?

We pride ourselves in our thermal building retrofits and e-mobility measures.

The city has launched a €70 M programme of subsidies and grants for citizens, housing cooperatives/associations and municipal units. The programme includes assistance for RES installations in buildings, removal of solid fuel furnaces, water retention schemes (a novelty in Poland), and for thermal retrofits of municipal buildings. A new pilot programme of thermal retrofits of municipal buildings through public-private partnership is also underway, with 81 buildings selected for the programme.

Warsaw is part of SONNET, a Horizon 2020 project on how social innovation can bring about a more sustainable energy sector in Europe. The City Lab to be created in Warsaw will focus specifically on private residential buildings and to some extent on public buildings. We’re currently looking at how a citizen engagement tool such as Sharing Cities’ Digital Social Market could benefit this initiative.

Warsaw’s private e-car sharing scheme has been highly successful and is now the third largest e-vehicle car sharing scheme in Europe. We’ve also implemented 100 e-bikes.

E-mobility measures require greater alignment with national government especially as we’re looking at strategies for mass deployment, charging points infrastructure and energy security. We also upgraded more than 8,000 lampposts to LED, and plan to add photovoltaic panels in selected locations, so that the lampposts can be powered 24/7 and support a wider range of smart street services.

Tell us about some of the challenges you’ve encountered

We faced both financial and legal barriers with some of our e-mobility measures. In Poland, energy providers are legally more involved than municipalities in the development of EV charging infrastructure – this has been challenge in terms of implementing a cohesive mobility strategy.

However we’re now expecting to see the number of charging points rapidly increase after a new e-mobility law entered into force in 2018. The law requires Warsaw to have 1,000 public-access charging points by the end of 2020. Warsaw is using this opportunity to engage with citizens through public consultation on the Location Plan for EV charging points.

What has enabled you to achieve your targets?

Being part of a large network of partners through the Sharing Cities consortium was hugely valuable, and learning from the lighthouse cities has greatly influenced our smart city vision for Warsaw.

Last year, Warsaw was awarded an ISO 37120 platinum status. The standard relates to sustainable development of communities with indicators of city services and quality of life.

What advice would you give to other cities interested in replication?

I would encourage cities to join a collaborative consortium, such as Sharing Cities, from the outset.
I would also recommend having a cross-sectoral team who can bring in different types of expertise into projects. In our case, smart city developments are coordinated between our energy, climate, and digital departments, allowing us to break those internal municipal silos. 

What does the future hold for Warsaw, and Poland?

Successful pilots in Warsaw have opened new possibilities for replication on a much larger scale.
The city is now establishing its own building standards, which will include provisions on energy efficiency and other aspects of sustainable development.

We also plan to develop more advanced smart city solutions through public-private partnerships. Whilst PPPs are still very rare in Warsaw, I believe they can greatly facilitate knowledge sharing between public and private stakeholders and enable solutions from the private sector to benefit communities at large.

The concept of smart cities became very trendy a few years ago, but its applications still lays ahead of many Polish cities. We have been disseminating our knowledge gained through the Sharing Cities programme and hope to see some of the successful measures implemented in Warsaw materialise in other Polish cities in the near future.


About Sharing Cities

The Sharing Cities ‘lighthouse’ project is a testbed for finding better, common approaches to making smart cities a reality. By fostering international collaboration between industry and cities, the project aims to develop affordable, integrated, commercial-scale smart city solutions with high market potential. Sharing Cities is a part of a family of projects that make up the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP SCC01 – Lighthouse Projects).


Replication Webinar Series: SEMS
Replication Webinar Series: Building Retrofit
Replication Webinar Series: E-bikes

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N°691895

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