Publication - Barometer

Smart City strategies and projects in Belgium (2018)

Our Belgian municipalities are bursting with ideas and projects!

June 2018 - The Smart City Institute reveals its second barometer survey of Smart Cities in Belgium. For this occasion, the 589 Belgian municipalities have been surveyed to better understand their perception of the phenomenon as well as their strategies and projects in this field.


One year after the first national quantitative research, what is the situation today at the Belgian level? Through this new study, almost a quarter of the Belgian municipalities have taken the opportunity to express themselves.

The survey has shown that the development of a Smart City approach is not a simple trend in Belgium, and that it is not limited to improving the brand image that municipalities wish to convey. A real awareness is emerging, allowing the progressive implementation of an inclusive dynamic, putting the human being at the heart of the matter

This study also presents national statistics while highlighting perspectives at the regional and provincial levels. Throughout the report, the rural and urban character of our municipalities is also highlighted.

Discover now the results of this second study !


Some observations and key figures

State of progress - An ongoing process

Through this survey, the Belgian municipalities give themselves an average score of 3.64 on a scale of 0 to 10 when it comes to their state of progress in this area. In fact, 35% of them consider that they are at least halfway through the process of becoming an accomplished Smart City. The region of origin of the municipality does not seem to have an influence on these results, since the averages vary between 3.53 (Flanders) and 4/10 (Brussels Region), while Wallonia has an average of 3.72. However, at the provincial level, the difference is more marked (see report).

Digital city - An image still strongly anchored

What do our cities and municipalities really mean when we talk about smart cities? The study shows that the term is generally associated with the digitalisation of our society. However, in the strategic reality of the municipalities surveyed, it emerges that they deviate from the purely digital approach of the smart city, since they place the human (1) and institutional (2) factors slightly above the technological (3) factor. The technological factor is therefore somewhat lower than in 2017, when it was in second place, still behind the human factor.

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Dr. Djida Bounazef, Researcher at the Smart City Institute: "Contrary to certain preconceived ideas that are still well entrenched, the Smart City is not limited to digitalisation and the municipalities have understood this. As we have been talking about at the Smart City Institute for several years, (digital) technologies must be seen as a tool for improving the quality of life, creativity, citizen participation or governance in a given territory. »

Essential prerequisites

In addition, 3 essential prerequisites for the implementation of a Smart City strategy are evoked by our municipalities:
  1. a shared vision of the global strategy
  2. political support for the approach
  3. flexible and participatory leadership
In reality, while political support appears to have been acquired by a good half of the Belgian municipalities, barely one municipality in three applies flexible and participatory leadership and one municipality in four has a common and shared vision.


Although there is still room for improvement regarding the prerequisites mentioned above, the study nevertheless shows that 35% of the municipalities have already formalised Smart City objectives in their overall strategy. Moreover, these strategies are mostly driven by local public authorities. Concerning the implementation of projects, it is also the public authorities that are recognised as the main initiator by our Belgian municipalities (70%), just like in 2017.

Jonathan Desdemoustier, researcher at the Smart City Institute: "Municipalities continue to commit themselves to the implementation of the Smart City in a Top-Down way by favouring the development of concrete projects on their territory. In order to be in line with the essence of a "smart" vision, i.e. a vision based on the involvement of all stakeholders, one of the next steps could be to take greater account of the impulses coming from these other actors."


These figures are very interesting because they show that Belgian municipalities are gradually becoming aware that the Smart City phenomenon concerns them all, regardless of their location, size or urban or rural character! We note a real progression from 2017 to 2018, both in terms of awareness and understanding of the phenomenon and in terms of project implementation. Smart City ecosystems are therefore boiling over on Belgian territory and this is very promising for a real transition in the coming years.

Want to know more? Discover in detail in our report and/or the infographics the main themes and smart city axes under development, the obstacles perceived by our municipalities, the types of funding used or applied for, and much more!


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