About two years ago a strategic process was begun aimed at turning Eilat into a smarter city. Eilat is guided by an inspired vision: as Israel's southern gateway, an international center of tourism and sports, a hub of diverse employment, a university and research center, a tourism industry incubator, and a strong, 'smart', and sustainable city whose attractiveness draws a quality population.
In keeping with that vision, Eilat's mayor contacted Uri Ben Ari, a strategic consultant in the area of smart cities. Thus began a process for formulating a multiyear strategic plan for turning the city of Eilat into a 'smart city' in line with international criteria.
In the plan's first phase, Eilat underwent an intensive evaluation process in order to assess the city's existing systems, level of technology and the manner of its use. Additionally, various surveys were taken in order to ascertain the city's parameters, including a survey of residents' satisfaction in different areas such as level of education, personal security, the city's cleanliness and its transportation situation.
Various processes occurring in the city were examined, starting with the Southern Gateway Plan and establishment of a new airport and seaport canal, to looking into replacing Eilat's streetlights and installing solar panels on the roofs of local schools. One of the key findings was the character of city's economic situation, which relies mainly on the tourism industry. Eilat is Israel's leader in tourism, with more hotels, more visitors than any other city in Israel and more overnight stays per year exceeding Tel Aviv and Jerusalem combined. Furthermore, it turns out that Eilat is an international R&D leader in the fields of biotechnology and mariculture as well as in renewable energy. The evaluation process for Eilat covered dozens of indicators connected with six core areas of 'smart city' operation, all based on a model developed through the collaboration of three European universities and to be implemented by Ben Ari's professional team.
The action plan for converting Eilat into a smart city includes plans and proposals for each smart city area of operation based on internationally recognized parameters. In the first phase, three issues were selected for each core area and assigned top priority. A 'Smart City Team' was established, staffed by senior administrators from each area of city management. The team is led by acting mayor Eli Lankri, with professional guidance from Uri Ben Ari.
During the Smart City Conference held in Barcelona in November 2014, Eilat was chosen to be one of the first cities to join the EU's "Internet of Things" platform, developed with the support of more than 80 million Euros in investments. Eilat was also awarded an EU grant worth more than 500,000 Euros for the purpose of establishing a 'smart neighborhood' model comprising all aspects of the smart city.
In the first phase, it was decided in to set up an Internet cloud across Eilat. It should be noted that Eilat, as Israel's first city to engage in the City "without Violence program", already has over 70 cameras installed across the city, with plans for the installation of an additional 100 cameras.
For the purpose of smart governance in Eilat, an advanced municipal website has been built that allows city residents to conduct a various transactions via the site, including registering children for kindergarten and paying for municipal services. The city has set up smart call center systems connected to the cell phones of residents, who can report on problems at any time, including transmitting photos to a call desk in the city's IT department. A smart business intelligence system (BI) is planned which will monitor all sensors in the city, gathering the information into one system that can show the city's leaders exactly what's happening at any moment and in any municipal domain. The city's entire communications system operates under the Internet protocol (IP), with significant savings of millions of shekels to the municipal budget.
In the area of environmental quality, Eilat is a leader in trash disposal, including separation and recycling. It is worth noting that Eilat is one of the least polluting and one of the cleanest cities in terms of air pollution in Israel.
Regarding the area of water consumption, the city planned, and succeeded, in saving 40% of water used for watering gardens and parks through the use of smart technology. The Local Water Authority also established advanced monitoring and control systems that employ water controllers and water meters, both in sewer pits and in private homes.
In the area of electricity, Eilat has already succeeded in supplying 44% of daily electricity consumption via solar energy. The aim is to achieve 100% of Eilat's electricity production from solar energy sources within two years. The city is about to replace lamps on the city's lampposts and thus save approximately 50% on annual costs for illuminating city streets.
In the sphere of municipal transportation, the city is publishing a tender for bicycle rental operators in Eilat; the aim is to allow visitors and residents to use bicycles in getting around the city, thus saving energy and reducing air pollution. Furthermore, the city is looking into the installation of smart bus stations as well as a reform of Eilat's taxi services.
Deputy and Acting Mayor of Eilat