Innovative knowledge exchange & replication at SCIS’s Project Coordinators Meeting
How can we share knowledge about what works and help others do the same? This underlying question gathered together project coordinators, city representatives, the European Commission, and experts involved in smart cities and energy efficiency projects co-funded by Horizon 2020 and FP7 programmes at the second SCIS Project Coordinators Meeting in Brussels.
Taking an interactive approach through the use of participatory format called Open Space, the workshop triggered lively discussions among participants who shared know-how and came up with recommendations for projects, the European Commission and the Smart Cities Information System (SCIS).
The projects REMOURBAN, SMARTER TOGETHER, CITyFiED, ZENN, REPLICATE, SHAR-LLM, TRIBE, EU-GUGLE, SmartEnCity, CELSIUS, NEXT-BUILDINGS, CITY-ZEN, READY, PITAGORAS, GrowSmarter, SINFONIA selected a range of topics to discuss including citizen engagement, targeting end users, policy challenges, replication of joint strategies, communication, data privacy, technical monitoring and tendering.
Whilst brainstorming on how to effectively share project experience, one participant noted that ‘Just producing data does not tell the whole story of a project. We need to create a framework for reflecting the real experience we have gained.’
To effectively replicate, said participants, the targeted end-user’s needs should be understood, so unique needs and experience can be tailored to fit. Some suggestions to SCIS included the introduction of an easily filled-in factsheet that encouraged points of collaboration between similar projects with mutual interest and also the hosting of a ‘failure’ conference to highlight and discuss the challenges that have occurred in the life-cycle of a project.
A topic of discussion was the experience by projects of challenges related to policy barriers in certain countries. Some mentioned, in particular, prohibitive national energy tax laws. Hence, the importance of linking up with authorities, ambassadors and acquiring national support for projects was stressed. The European Commission was suggested as a possible interlocutor between governments on national legislative barriers. The SCIS team strongly encouraged participants to share their experiences so that changes could be made at policy level.
One of the overarching objectives of the SCIS is to develop a project database into which monitoring data can be uploaded from smart cities initiatives across Europe. This database represents a repository of valuable project implementation experience, ultimately promoting the replication of smart cities best practice throughout the EU.
‘We need to find a good balance between minimising the amount of data required from the projects and keeping sufficient information to make it useful for decision makers. Creating an effective tool where projects can upload information easily and efficiently is one way we can help, ’explained Eric Lecomte, European Commission DG ENER and Project Officer for SCIS.
In addition, at the meeting the SCIS team announced the launch of a new self-reporting tool – a tool that will offer a simplified method of upload of monitoring information by projects into the database and a new way of visualisation of results through the website. Future training webinars will be offered to projects to ensure they are up to date in the techniques of the self-reporting tool.
The SCIS platform has been launched with support from the European Commission. The aim of the platform is to monitor and analyse EU co-financed demonstration projects and encourage replication of the demonstrated solutions across Europe, within the context of the European Union’s energy and climate change objectives.