SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.


SDA Trains the Ministry of Public Administration of Kosovo

On April 15, 2019, the Kosovo Ministry of Public Administration delegation came to Sofia on a study visit on the topic of open data, hosted by the State E-Government Agency. The study visit programme, coordinated by the administration of the Council of Ministers, included a session for Sofia Development Association to present its work in the area and to show the results and outcomes available online.

Sevdalina Voynova presented the process of opening data in Sofia Municipality, demonstrated examples of instruments used for data visualization and data based applications, explained the approach of Sofia and SDA to promote opening data by municipal hackathons and datathons and by supporting NGOs through the grant-making municipal programmes. The opportunities for better regulation and financing of open data, provided by the Digital Transition partnership of the European Urban Agenda, coordinated by Sofia, were also discussed.


The first Sofia Innovation Camp – part of the series of the Joint Research Center (JRC) initiative Science Meets Regions - took place on March 29 – 31, 2018 with the broader theme of cleaner air. It brought together close to 100 participants, ranging from academia and politicians to civil society and business representatives, from secondary school students to trade unions, from media to community organizations. Four generations worked together for three days in Sofia City Art Gallery to innovate, network and produce the first ideas and rough solutions developed jointly in response to challenges put forward by Sofia Municipality.

Lorita Radeva, Chairperson of the Environmental Committee of Sofia Municipal Council, proposed the challenge of combating energy poverty. The citizen response were two prototypes. The first envisions more efficient support to energy poor households by introducing an energy contract between the recipients and the municipality and establishing the figure of energy mediator (based on the model of health mediators). The second proposes to establish an Innovation and Demo Center for Smart Energy with real life demonstrations of different technologies and solutions, plus educational and consultancy activities for better energy efficiency.

Hristian Petrov, Director of the Urban Mobility Center, put forward the challenge of better urban transport. Participants who worked on this challenge, proposed to introduce school buses instead of parents driving kids to school. They also believe the public transport 365-day pass needs better promotion. Another solution proposed was to introduce mini-traffic modeling based on the city transport scheme, at the level of a crossroads, or parallel road repair works, allowing more efficient traffic regulation.

Doncho Barbalov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia, proposed the challenge of balancing technological innovations and their societal effects. The bottom-up citizen co-creating resulted in ideas for a new type of public cloud data connectivity; Solar City photovoltaic installations engaging disenfranchised citizens; career counselling center assisting young people to design a career path suitable for the future.

The challenge owners welcomed citizens to co-own the policy solutions and enhance the accountability of policy interventions. Sofia Innovation Camp, conducted as a partnership between Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association, Green Sofia and Sofia University, managed to establish platforms for on-going discussion on the evolution of proposed challenges, and the identification of new ones. To facilitate this process, Yordanka Fandakova, Sofia Mayor, and Charlina Vitcheva, Deputy Director General at JRC, signed a Memorandum for cooperation between Sofia and JRC in the areas of clean air, climate change, transport, digital transformation, cybersecurity.



Predict the Air Pollution by Geo-locations in Sofia

Scientists from Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University presented study for prediction Air Pollution by Geo-location in Sofia at the beginning of the Sofia Innovation Camp. The Air Pollution Predict Model was developed with the JRC financial and expert support.
This study is organized in cooperation with the Science meets Regions event (Sofia InnoCamp) on Energy and Climate Change and Social Effects of Climate Change, organized by Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association) in March 2019. The premise here is that the study would foster the debate on Sofia’s air quality - one of the biggest environmental issues of the city in later years.

The ultimate objective of this analysis is to deliver forecast for the next 24 hours per station using data from citizen and official science measurements. Firstly, there is bias correction of citizen science measurements, checked against the official measurement stations. The official comply with the EU directives on air quality monitoring can be used for regulatory purposes, but are limited in number (only 5 in the whole city). Citizen science stations have very good coverage of the city, but may carry instrumental biases – due to different measurement methods, different interaction with meteorology, etc.

Secondly a prediction model for next-day forecast of PM10 is built, using additional factor from meteorological parameters (from a weather forecast) and topography satellite data. When there are qualitative prediction results, the data is mapped over geo-locations of Sofia.

The authors of the model Assoc. Prof. Boryana Pelova and Assoc. Prof. Angel Marchev shared that “There is a lack of confidence from a certain group of citizens to the data from the official sources. At the same time, the popularity of the civil air quality sensors system is based mainly on the fact that the data is locally oriented (the quarter of the neighborhood) and they give to residents of Sofia some local context and understanding. It is important to emphasize that no one challenges the immense technical superiority of official measurement stations over civil network sensors, but the popular opinion is that the five official stations do not meet the needs of citizens to predict time and place.”

Also, the Prediction model uses additional meteorological data (weather forecast) and topographic satellite data. When the qualitative results are predicted, the data are mapped in geo-locations of Sofia.

"These are well-spent money," said Charlina Vicheva, Deputy Director of the DG Joint Research Center, European Commission (JRC) after hearing the presentation of the Air Pollution Forecasting Model in Sofia through geo-locations. The data and methodology are already published on and can be used by everyone.


European Dialogue for Sofia Smart Office

Leaders of the cities of Prague, Vienna, Tallinn, Aspen (Austria), Tampere (Finland) met on March 26, 2019 in SofiaLab with Sofia municipal councilors, representatives of Sofia Development Association and Green Sofia, municipal enterprises and structures, to share what they have learnt on their road to smart governance. The development and modernization of big cities bring about new types of problems. The best solutions are to be found in the “smart city” concept.

Dominic Weiss, Head of Smart City Agency for Urban Innovation Vienna; Toomas Sepp, Head of Tallinn City Office; Michal Kraus, Head of Prague Smart City Department; Seppo Haataja, Director of Smart City Tampere; Frans-Anton Vermast, Smart City Ambassador, Amsterdam; Marco Steinberg, Helsinki, offered advice to Sofia representatives on what to take into consideration in developing Sofia’s smart city and smart office vision.





Sofia Development Association presented the Sofia Innovation Fund as Good Practice at a Partnership Meeting under the "Finance for Social Change"

On 21st of March 2019, in Karlsruhe was held a meeting under the project „Finance for Social Change“. The topic of the training of trainers event was „Knowledge exchange on public benefit support to foster social enterprises“. Partner organizations from Hungary, Austria, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Moldova presented good practices that have led to a change in policies at local and national level. As a partner in the project, SDA presented the Sofia Innovation Fund, which is a good example of public-private financing of social innovations. The participants exchanged experience and discussed in details the strengths and weaknesses of the practices. The practiced presented and lessons learned will provide a basis for assessing the readiness for socially-oriented investments in the Danube region of the European Union.

Project co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI). 
More information can be found at


Sofia Develops a New European Instrument - Digital Neighbourhood

СAs one of the coordinators of the Digital Transition Partnership in the framework of the Urban Agenda for the EU, Sofia together with the city of Oulu, Finland, and Estonia, developed a joint Action Plan with pilot projects the results of which will serve to improve the European policies in the area of legislation, funding and education in the digital era.

One of the instruments Sofia took the leadership to develop and test is entitled Digital Neighbourhood. In a society where we are increasingly defined by our access to information, no access to technology and skills to use technology well would leave one in the digital dark ages. This is what the digital divide is about, and sealing this gap is critical for the local development.

Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association and Sofia City Library held an extended consultative meeting and workshop on March 21, 2019, at SofiaLab, which brought together 30 experts from the local administrations, relevant ministries and national authorities, academia and business. The aim of the seminar was to start the development of specific measures to overcome the digital divide like more renters for community access to technology and digital services, more trained technical staff to serve the citizens, programmes for training and skills building.


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