At the initiative of CampusX and The Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), Vladimir Danailov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development, participated in a network meeting with Sofia’s technological and startup community. He presented the goals and the first initiatives of the new department of Sofia Municipality which will operate under the name Innovative Sofia.
Issues that the ecosystem itself sets as priorities for the city were discussed during the meeting. Among them were the opening of data for the city; the provision of machine-readable data; opportunities for using Intelligent Process Automation to extract information from a text or images and analyzing it through artificial intelligence (from document templates to street traffic); can the Municipality participate in the regulatory framework at a national level; what is the procedure through which businesses can offer solutions for implementation at the city level; what are the ways to achieve a more structured collaboration between the city and the business; what are the financial resources of the city and how will it fund digital and innovative solutions; are there legal acts that impede the provision of facilitated electronic services and will such be updated; will new e-services be established in areas where they are not currently available; is there a plan for the implementation of new solutions, etc.
We would like Sofia to be one of Europe’s technology leaders, with a good environment for living and starting a business. We would like the city to be recognized as a testing ground, as a place where intelligent urban solutions are developed, a place where products and services are launched for the city by local companies, Deputy Mayor Danailov said and outlined the first three steps in which the new department will focus on.
A priority for Sofia Municipality is to reduce the administrative burden for citizens and businesses by increasing the number of electronic services to 170 over the next two years, as well as the implementation of modern technologies, since the current electronic system was created 5-7 years ago.
Another task is the opening of the data of the city and its use by the business. This year the Municipality plans to invite local startup and technology companies to test solutions. More pilot projects should be supported, and when there is a new developed solution available, it should be implemented more easily in the city. This is where the important role of Sofia comes into play – the establishment of a data policy so that data can be provided freely under clear rules.
Part of the activities of the new department will also be related to the acceptance of proposals for urban environment innovations created by the business. Companies will be able to propose solutions, and then will be directed to a municipal enterprise or a department in the Municipality which is the most appropriate partner for the project in order to monitor it, build a proof of concept, measure how pragmatic the solution can be and whether the municipality can suggest the scaling of the proposal if it proves useful enough for the city.
We would like to focus a little more towards the practical side of things and act in a more customer-oriented way. Intelligent urban solutions from which citizens can benefit could be suggested by the strong technology sector in Sofia, and only in partnership with the business will we be able to successfully complete the process of digitization of the urban environment. There is an understanding of the need for this and support at the highest level of the city – by the Mayor Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, Vladimir Danailov said during the meeting.