The Energy, Water and National Infrastructures Ministry wants to promote holistic approach to urban planning.

The smart city of the future must supply all of the needs of its population, rather than focusing simply on niche areas of expertise, stressed an Energy and Water Ministry official at a Tuesday conference.

“There is no holistic perception, and the holistic approach is what we’re trying to promote here,” said Eddie Bet-Hazavdi, director of energy conservation and smart cities at the Energy, Water and National Infrastructures Ministry.

Bet-Hazavdi was addressing participants of a conference focusing on smart cities, held under the umbrella of the 18th Annual International CleanTech Summit and Exhibition for Water Technologies, organized by the Mashov Group at Airport City.

Although municipalities all over the world claim to have become smart cities, most of these cities are actually simply integrating niche areas of smart technology rather than implementing a more holistic approach, Bet-Hazavdi explained. What is crucial instead is an integration of the many subjects associated with building a smart city, such as environment, energy, water, information communications, economic resources, quality of life and emergency preparedness, he argued.

“The smart city aspires to optimal use, sustainable use, of all the resources while maintaining balance in the social and economic systems,” Bet-Hazavdi said.

While Bet-Hazavdi’s ministry is in the process of developing plans for Israel’s smart city future, he stressed that programs must be implemented cautiously, and with the cooperation of all government ministries, as well as NGOs and corporations.

“The greatest challenge we are faced with is how to take so many fields – each of which is a world in and of itself … and bring them all together,” agreed Prof. Avner Adin, president of CleanTech 2014 and chairman of the Environmental Sciences Department at Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences.

The ultimate goal of smart city must be “providing better services to its population,” explained Amir Peleg, founder & CEO of TaKaDu smart water technology systems and chairman of Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN). In Peleg’s eyes, such a city – which connects all the puzzle pieces necessary toward achieving such comprehensive service improvements – does not yet exist. “I haven’t seen one smart city in the world – we are seeing buds,” Peleg said. “There are attempts, there are connections of systems.”

Following the smart cities discussion session, a panel of judges from cleantech fields unveiled Israel’s 10 greenest local authorities for 2014. In the large cities category, the winners were Ashdod, Holon, Kfar Saba and Rishon LeZion. Meanwhile, Yokneam and Shoham were the winners of the small- and medium-sized cities category, while the greenest regional councils were Emek Hefer and Gush Etzion.

The authorities were selected following a detailed examination of their activities over two months, in energy efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, waste separation, sewage treatment, encouragement of public transportation use, green building, gardening, environmental education and other categories. All in all, 40 local authorities partook in the competition, the judges said.

The CleanTech Summit and Exhibition will continue on Wednesday, with a conference hosted by the Economy Ministry’s Israel NewTech program, during which the country’s water corporations will introduce various new techniques that they are undertaking.