2022-03-03 15:53:14

A Breakthrough City and Serves as an Example to Many Local Authorities When It Comes to Urban Innovation

The Israeli city of Netanya brands itself as a smart city that places its 250,000 residents in the centre. It is constantly improving its services, developing advanced technologies, and promoting new ideas and projects on sustainability, with the ultimate purpose of raising the quality of life of the residents.

One of those is a digital literacy project backed by the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. In an increasingly digital world, more and more government services are moved online. However, this efficiency-increasing tool can sometimes do the opposite, for those who are not learned in this technology. To solve the problem, the city has established a digital centre. Apart from basic computer knowledge and skills, the centre also teaches residents of all age how to access government services and online databases. In this way, the residents become aware of the various services the municipality offers and are saved the trouble of going to a government office in person. 

Netanya also values input from its residents. In addition to the traditional methods, the city employs various digital channels, including the website and social media, to understand residents’ needs and fine-tune its services accordingly. For instance, in the transportation sector, this has sparked the introduction of a ride-sharing service and a major public transportation programme, Sky Train. The programme was born out of the need to connect the western and eastern sides of the city in shorter time. The goal is to encourage transportation changes and reduce air pollution.

Another connectivity programme focuses on the wild residents of the city. The two natural reserves in the city used to be separated by open spaces. However, due to increased human migration into the city, massive construction around the reserves has completely cut them off and expose endangered plants and animals in this combined haven to graver risks of isolation, genetic drift, and extinction. To ensure long-term health of the ecosystems, an artificial underground passage is being built. It will renew the connectivity between the two sites and create an ecological continuum, promoting the preservation of endangered species.

The city is in constant pursuit of utilisation of new technologies and improvement of its institutions for better changes. It is working towards the realisation of all SDGs, and the listed projects are highly relevant to Goal 4 (quality education), Goal 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), Goal 10 (reduced inequality), Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and Goal 15 (life on land).