For large cities, urban air pollution and the urban heat island effect are among the most present and acute environmental issues challenging urban populations. In New York City alone, air pollution is estimated to contribute to more than 2,000 deaths and just under 6,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations each year. At the same time, NYC annually experiences an average of 450 heat-related emergency department visits, 150 heat-related hospital admissions, and 13 heat-stroke deaths. The City also averages about 115 excess deaths from natural causes exacerbated by extreme heat annually.
As part of the Smart Cities NYC expo May 13-15 2019, New York City is announcing a new Open Innovation Call in partnership with the Access Cities program targeting Air Quality and Urban Heat Island solutions.
Access Cities is an international, public-private program, which aims to strengthen sustainable urban development in five progressive cities – New York, Singapore, Munich and the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. The project connects stakeholders working with sustainable urban development in the pursuit of game-changing solutions to common issues confronting cities. Access Cities is funded by the Danish Industry Foundation and co-financed by State of Green (program lead), the Confederation of Danish Industry, Quercus Group, Climate-KIC, the City of Copenhagen and the City of Aarhus.
”We are excited about the partnership with Access Cities for this Open Innovation Call as it is a great opportunity for NYC to work with international partners on topics that affect cities around the world. The City has been hard at work tackling the issues of air pollution and urban heat island effect and now we aim to attract innovative technologies and solutions from both our own urban tech ecosystem and from abroad. This will enable us to more quickly deliver on the City’s ambitious targets for increased quality of life and equity for all New Yorkers”, said Paul Rothman, Senior Product Manager in the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. As part of the due diligence for the call, the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer conducted interviews with a variety of NYC Agencies, who provided feedback on which challenges are the most pressing for them in order to deliver on NYC’s sustainability development plan, One NYC. Air quality and Urban Heat Island emerged as connecting points to many of the top concerns.
Call for innovative technology and design solutions
With the Access Cities Open Innovation Call, New York City is looking for new and innovative ideas, technologies, and approaches to reducing the negative impacts of urban air pollution and the heat island effect. The proposed solutions can approach the challenge from a mitigation perspective (reduce ambient air pollution or temperatures) or from an adaptation perspective (help New Yorkers cope with the negative effects of air pollution or heat). Where possible, the aim is to address the areas of the City which have the highest rates of heat-related illness and mortality and known air quality vulnerability issues.
True to the nature of an Open Innovation Call, both companies and individuals can apply through two different tracks: 1) Technologies, solutions or services that can improve air quality and/or reduce ambient urban temperature or their harmful effects, or 2) design solutions that reimagine aspects of city life that will improve air quality and/or reduce the intensity or harmful effects of Urban Heat Island effect. By appealing to both manufacturers and architects/urban planners with this competition, the aim is to attract resilient holistic solutions that can inspire the New York City to marry impactful technology with aesthetic design fitting for its urban landscape.
Parallel Open Innovation Call with the City of Copenhagen
Underlining that the Access Cities program is about finding and sharing solutions to similar challenges that cities face, this competition is designed as a parallel Call between New York City and Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen (CPH). “Copenhagen has benefitted a lot from collaborating with other progressive cities, sharing our solutions and concerns as we are faced with similar challenges. Although we are a relatively green city, air quality is also a huge challenge for us, and if we look at future temperature rise predictions caused by climate change, we have to start future proofing our city now against increasing urban heat island impacts”, said Lykke Leonardsen, Program Director, Resilient and Sustainable City Solutions, City of Copenhagen.
First Access Cities Open Innovation call
The parallel Open Innovation Call is its first of its kind in the Access Cities program. ”We see the challenge-based approach that lies at the heart of the Access Cities Program as a path for accelerating knowledge exchange between cities, and for companies it offers test beds outside of traditional city procurement processes”, said Klaus Lehn Christensen, Director of Danish Cleantech Hub, which is the New York lead of Access Cities.
The Call is developed together with another Access Cities partner, EIT Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest knowledge and innovation community, working towards a prosperous, inclusive, climate-resilient society founded on a circular, zero-carbon economy. “The aim of joint Open Innovation Calls is to pool knowledge, experiences and innovation in a way that similar challenges are solved through collaboration, instead of wasting time and resources on individual solutions, as climate challenges in big cities often are of comparable nature”, said Jakob Stolt, Senior Project Manager at Climate-KIC.
The competition portal will be launching May 27, 2019 and stay open for submissions until July 8, 2019.
Up to 5 finalists in each track will be selected to present at the final on September 24, 2019 during New York City’s Climate Week.