has announced the winners of the 2014 , which for the first time focused on European cities working to solve major challenges and improve urban life.
Barcelona, Spain, was awarded the €5 million grand prize for its plan to create a digital and community "trust network" for each of its at-risk elderly residents. The New York City-based foundation also awarded innovation prizes of €1 million each to Athens, Greece; Kirklees, United Kingdom; Stockholm, Sweden; and Warsaw, Poland. The winning cities were selected based on four criteria: the vision and creativity of their idea, the viability of its implementation, its potential for impact, and its ability to be replicated elsewhere. The winning cities will use the funds to implement or expand their efforts to address some of Europe's most critical issues, including unemployment, energy efficiency, obesity, aging, and the effectiveness and efficiency of government.
Athens, for example, will create an online platform that helps civil society, local institutions, and government to collaboratively devise solutions to local problems, which in turn will help ensure the development of sustainable neighborhoods; Kirklees will pool idle "assets" such as lawnmowers and trucks, unused space, and citizens' skills and expertise and make them available through an online sharing platform; Stockholm will create a citywide program that activates citizens as frontline change agents in the fight against climate change; and Warsaw will ease mobility among the visually impaired by placing thousands of beacons around the city that communicate with users through mobile apps.
"To meet the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century, city leaders must think creatively and be unafraid to try new things — and the Mayors Challenge is designed to help them do that," said former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The decision for our selection committee was not easy, but the five winning ideas we announced today represent the best of the best, and all have the potential to improve lives. Cities are shaping the future of our planet, and Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to helping mayors pioneer new innovations — and to helping their most promising ideas spread around the world."