Is IT Innovation the Sustainability Game Changer?
Unlike some of the essential elements of life such as sanitation and transportation, energy use in the city is inherently invisible to the naked eye. That’s rapidly changing as energy management services are quickly improving by making better use of new tools and technologies. New information and communications technology solutions make it possible to visualize and quantify sustainability — in energy, transport, infrastructure etc. — in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago. What are these new IT innovations? How, through public use and attention, are they helping cities address their seemingly intractable challenges?
- Moderator: Nicola Villa, Senior Director, European and Emerging Markets Public Sector Practice, Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco
- Emilio Frezza, CIO, City of Rome (via Telepresence from Rome)
- Josep Roig, Secretary General, United Cities Local Governments
- Ger Baron, Cluster Manager ICT, Amsterdam Innovation Motor
Welcome back everybody. It’s late in the evening in Rome. I have the pleasure of introducing this panel to you because it’s my attempt to try and start identifying as we proceed through the day, start identifying the elements that can help us address all of the above.
This morning we had the big design scenarios; how the design revolution is changing everything that we know. Then we looked at the transportation and mobility, we looked at the energy infrastructure, we looked at the building systems and now we’re going to attempt to try to tie together these different pieces and ask a question: what might it be – perhaps it’s information technology and information and communications technology innovation – what is going to change the game for cities that makes it possible to transform the way our cities work, to transform the way we work, to transform the marketplace?
We have a panel moderator, Nicola Villa, who is an Italian based in Amsterdam, works for a company headquartered in San Jose, spends a lot of his time in China and Korea, so we’re lucky to have him with us in Boulder and Nic has suggested, very enthusiastically received by us, that we ask the Chief Information Officer for the City of Rome to join us and he’s joining us by video conference. So, Nic, please.
Gordon, thank you very much and good morning everybody. The session of this morning is, Is IT Innovation the Sustainability Game Changer? And we were having a conversation over coffee which was quite interesting. We speak about innovation as an abstract term. And with my friend Ger was last week in Amsterdam on a very large digital media fair called PICNIC and I was invited to go and witness a hack-a-thon, which is a hackers’ marathon, where a bunch of hackers basically get open [inaudible 0:02:22] and they start creating applications in the green sustainability space. And they created like twenty-five or thirty of them in a couple of days. And to me it was very clear how we think about innovation as something abstract, well those gentlemen and ladies, twenty to thirty or so, just do it. They don’t think whether this is innovation or not, they just basically get on, use the network to create great ideas and great services for the communities in which they live.
So the question really is today, what is the role of IT into unleashing this type of bottom-up innovation that we see emerging in our cities? We have invited three esteemed panelists. All of them happen to be from Europe.
First of all, from Rome, I would like to welcome Emilio Frezza. Emilio Frezza is the Chief Information Officer of the City of Rome, Roma Capitale as we call it in Italy. Emilio’s going to speak about one specific angle from an innovation perspective which has to do with the innovating ways of deploying infrastructure capabilities into large cities. Emilio is today the CIO of the city, in his previous role in the government in Italy he was basically responsible for the national broadband deployment strategies from a central government perspective, so he was working for CNIPA which is the information society agency in Italy. He created the policy on how to deploy the infrastructure and that is a proactionary move into the City of Rome and basically made it happen. He’s going to give us a central and a local government point of view.
We’ve asked, also have Ger Baron – I’m learning how to pronounce the Dutch names in the correct way. Ger is the program manager of the Amsterdam Innovative Motor which is the Innovation Engine, a very innovative NGO which is working in Amsterdam at the intersection between government, the business world, and the local communities. He also has an interesting personal story; he started his career in Accenture in the corporate world, he then moved at the labor party, the National Labor Party in the Netherlands, and looked into running campaigns and supporting politicians in winning their elections, and then he started to basically get into a practitioner role into the city by basically managing the special purpose vehicle that Amsterdam has created in this space.
And of course, our third panelist is Josep Roig, a very old friend of all of ours and a big friend of Cisco, Secretary-General of UCLG which is the United Cities and Local Governments, the largest association of cities in the world, and until recently the Secretary-General of Metropolis which is the large association of mega-cities in the world. And Josep is going to speak more about the government’s role and how we basically use innovative public-private partnership constructions to unleash innovation from the bottom.
Without taking any more of your time I would like to hand over to Emilio. We’re going to have three brief introductions by the panelists and then we’re going to open it up for questions. Emilio, the floor is yours.
Thank you, thank you for this opportunity.
You stated our evolution in ICT field of City of Rome, but inside the evolution of ICT of the public administration in Italy. In Italy the public administration has a long tradition of sharing for structural ICT and in 2000 started a few important projects. There was one network, IT network, dedicated for the public administration. All ministries in Italy use this network, IT network, very important for us in the field. After, started a new project in international field, so in 2005 started a new project for a new network IP/MPLS. In every part of the world our science – so the ministry of defense, ministry of foreign affairs and also ministry of international trade – were connected in this network. But the most important technology project was SPC. SPC is our important infrastructure for all public administration: central and local and regional, every.
This project started in 2003 with an important bottom-up process of consensus building. There were important working groups with more than 300 managers from ICT industries, universities, and also managers of public administration. It’s important that you know that this project is very innovative because it’s not only a software framework and the ICT infrastructure but it’s also a legal and organizational one. For SPC the government, in 2005, made a specific law. Our law is – the name of this law was Code of Digital Administration.
The infrastructure of SPC is in this picture. We have an important network with two carriers, different carriers, IP/MPLS. And this network had at the moment 50,000 accesses of central administration and also local administration. This network is mandatory for central public administration, and there is an opportunity for the other administration. This is very important for us. There is also, an important part, a menu of services like a data center which is possible to use hosting/housing of our portal, portal for public administration. There is a specific data center for messaging. And another important part is interoperability, interoperability between the different administrations. We are participating in a European interoperability framework. Another part is Voice over IP. Voice over IP mandatory for public administration but is a specific law also in this case, and all administration at the moment have the specific order to integrate in Voice over IP. Other important part is the security services.
This project, it started in 2006. At the moment it is an important project for Italy and we are working with the central government for an evolution after 2013.
Rome. Rome is the capital of Italy. At the moment there are more or less 3 million inhabitants, 10% foreigners. This is official data; the reality, I think, is very different. It’s interesting to note that there is a car for one people – one person – every person in a car. This is very – in Rome there is a lot of traffic. But at the same time it’s a green city. The area of Rome is very – 129,000 hectare, and the green area is very, very important. It’s a young city, with 51.6% citizens are less than 45 years old, and there are more than 500,000 students; two hundred in our university. In Rome there are four important universities. Rome is also an industrial city. There are 230,000 enterprises. It’s important for the tourist, that our forecast here is important, but we think there will be more or less 10 million tourists in Rome this year.
My role at the moment is to realize an important infrastructure for the management of all applications of the municipality. For this reason we have an important infrastructure. We have data center, we have 200 sites connected with optical fiber and 1,300 schools connected with a network in cable. In the same time we have more or less 26,000 employees and these employees are also the teachers and municipal employees. And we have 16,000 PCs and 270 LAN. We have also an important portal. Our public access portal is 14 million accesses per year in this year. And we have also an important call center, its name is 0606 and there are more or less 5 million calls per year. This is our infrastructure.
This infrastructure is compatible in SPC project over the government. So we are also queue network with a queue operator, faster than telecom, faster – they use Swisscom at the moment, and Telecom Italia. And with the value added services like our portal is SPC, our messaging is SPC. At the same time we have the first services: interoperability with the other ministries like justice, like defense, and the security service and the voice over IP are also in SPC. For the voice over IP there is at the moment, after a period, the important period when I realize the pilot – we have at the moment spread in every part of the city and I think in one year our infrastructure will be in voice over IP.
This is the infrastructure and the services for all our employees but I think it’s important also and I think at the moment to speak also about the services for the city’s enterprise. We have at the moment an important project about open data that I think we started at the end of this year.
Thank you very much, Emilio. So we’ve looked at the way national IT and broadband policy is driving local infrastructures into city. And we’ll take questions for Emilio later on at the end of the introductory speeches.
Now, a number of cities are starting to deploy infrastructure, and the next big question is – the planning is done – is to say, “What am I actually going to be developing to my cities in terms of value?” There has been a large trend that we came across in the last four to five years of governments moving away from top-down design of the services to the citizens into crowd sourcing of those services to small and medium businesses and to communities themselves. And the classic example of this is how Amsterdam has developed again the special purpose vehicle called the Amsterdam Innovative Motor that Ger represents. I’d like to hand this over to Ger and basically ask him to talk to us about what happens on top of those networks when they are deployed.
Thanks, Nic and thanks for the opportunity to share some insights. I’m going to react a bit on the speaker before. It’s – we did a whole rollout of a fiber network to schools as well, we’re now doing households and same thing for smart energy grid, but we’re now in a phase that we discover that people will not start to use infrastructures without helping them to use them.
So I’m going to tell something about shaking hands and hopefully – when it gets to more technical I’m open for questions but I would like to tell something about collaboration, about shaking hands. But well, isn’t shaking hands the best thing you can do with people? I mean, when you meet someone you shake hands. You shake hands as well when you make an agreement; show we agree on. And later when you meet again and you’re becoming friends you shake hands. So hand shaking is very important and it’s very underestimated, I think.
I work for the Amsterdam Innovative Motor. We’re a public-private partnership between the universities of Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam and a whole bunch of companies. What we try to do is organize in a fashion, streamline in a fashion by creating public-private partnerships; isn’t always that easy? I mean the hand shake part seems easy, meeting each other. Well once it comes to collaboration, you really want something from each other, it’s harder than it seems. And in a fashion it’s maybe even harder. I think it’s serendipity and we try to organize it.
First a bit about the City of Amsterdam and a bit of our culture, because I think it’s relevant because in a fashion, about cities, it’s very context-dependent, I think. City of Amsterdam every – well, seventh century it was the richest city in the world. Traditional trading city, went to the East, went to the West, got everything into Amsterdam. And we evolved a bit. We have the same infrastructures basically; we use the canals nowadays to party on. The homes you see at the side of the canals used to be used for – to stock the goods that will be in trade, as trade houses. Now people live over there. So we have the same infrastructure but we try to become innovative by using the same infrastructures in new forms.
Same – in a fashion, basically, when you start to innovate a city it’s not only sitting in the lab, I mean, this is – well, people from Philips over here; probably they can tell all about how this happened. It’s the invention of the light bulb. It’s not invented by Edison actually but by a German guy a bit earlier; had a problem that he didn’t have any electricity yet. Which is true. So it’s – in a fashion – but the demand was pretty clear. This guy saw there was a need: we want to have light without candles. Stopped to think about a solution, experiment a bit, and there is an invention; sounds very simple. But I think nowadays it works a bit different. Also other types of inventions, the invention of the wheel; people had big rocks, they want to do something with it so they start to roll with it and they discover that a round rock was easier to move than a square. And you have this big piles of stone in the Netherlands called Hunebedden which is sculpture but they’re all round because you could roll them. And afterwards [inaudible 0:18:4] but nobody thought of it, you needed a wheel to drive your motorcycle, so it’s also inventions sometimes develop a bit and end up being used for all types of other things.
And now, so we have this idea of a city which is old and getting used in new ways, infrastructures you’re going to use in other ways. You have innovation which is very hard to manage much of the time; sometimes it’s very easy because you want to solve a problem, but most of the time it’s accidentally or based on serendipity. And then all the smart city things again, I mean, smarter, connected, intelligent city, smart world, depends on your favorite vendor. And we started a smart city program. Basically we wanted to see how those infrastructures we were rolling out could be used for smart solutions, mobility, connected cars, use your fiber, use your smart meters and so on. And we started the smart city program and we invited basically all the companies in the world; “Please help us. Shake hands with us.” And we tried to make our city a bit smarter; that’s Amsterdam’s smart city platform.
The essence is based in collaboration. I don’t believe that technology is an issue nowadays. I mean, we have someone from Rome listening to us in HD quality – went pretty well, no latency and so on, so technology’s not really the problem. Collaboration is the problem. And this Morten Hanson wrote a book about collaboration. The essence of this book basically is: don’t collaborate with everybody, because we collaborate too much. When you do it, do it right. So that’s a very interesting lesson. And we wanted to start this collaboration to start telling smart stories. To start to tell about how we think a smart city would work like, how these collaborations could happen, how you return the investment, and your investment can maybe be aligned when you start to collaborate. So it’s about shaking hands, and it’s not only about shaking hands between party A and party B but it’s more like, this is the world records handshaking in Belgium. It’s over 2,000 people at the same time shaking hands and when you talk about smart cities, it’s very comparable actually.
Big mistake lots of big companies made until four, five years ago, felt that, “We have a smart city proposition. We’re going to sell a smart city to the mayor of the city because he’s the boss of the city.” And they went there with their slide deck and said, “Well, here’s our smart city, please order one.” And for some reason – this really happened in several cities, I can give examples. It doesn’t work that way. It’s about organizing an ecosystem, not only on the solution side, but also organize your ecosystem on the various sides: you need the grid company, housing agencies, banks, whatever. It’s very hard to organize these things.
Comes with it that a city’s not just a model you can play with a bit. I mean, I show you the picture before but it’s – well, this is more like the city. People are not doing logical things and this is brilliant because this is a brilliant sailing event and you see what happens? This is on our main canal. Didn’t have a single accident; there were over 800,000 people on the water and didn’t have a single – well, nobody has rules or signs and so on. So it’s – in a city it’s not always logical because so much you have this one traffic light, and people drive through it and there’s another car and there’s an accident, and other situations there are no accidents. It’s very hard to predict how things are going to go in a city.
Coming back to our smart city program, within a year we had, well these are a few of them, we – now we have over 80 partners all doing pilot projects that are relevant for logical rollout of the infrastructures we are currently doing. And I’ll name three examples and then, because I’ll have to get out of time. And what’s the use – what’s the need for such a platform, and organizing such a platform? I’ll give you two, three examples.
First of all, everybody is aware we need energy feedback, because we want to – Boulder is a brilliant example with smart grid city, totally failed. We learned from that and we did it differently. Wait, it’s brilliant – I mean, I have a few failures as well in a moment – it’s brilliant to learn from each other. The Google Power Meter – Google wants to give energy feedback as well. Who’s using the Google Power Meter. They stopped the project, which is one of the many projects that’s been stopped by Google nowadays, but I think it’s – we tried to give energy feedback as well so we invited SMEs to come up with solutions, and there were five SMEs that came up with [inaudible 0:23:06] feedback displays and three of them failed, two of them went through, and the one that’s now being rolled out on a large scale is this one which is – not too much, it’s more app-based, it looks like a small iPad, big iPhone. And I learned from all the failures of the other displays. I learned from Google, I learned from – now this is a model based on replacing a thermostat instead of getting something new into your house because people don’t want new things in their house; they already have all these machines. It’s interesting to see how it works when you try several things and some fail, but some winners learn from the others.
Also, a new way of thinking – sorry, it’s got some Dutch on it, it means car-sharing. But it’s car sharing in a new way. This is not only a normal car sharing program; Zip Car it’s named the U.S. I’ve learned yesterday. This is the people hand over their own car and rent it to other people and somebody takes care of the insurance and takes care of that it’s fueled up again, and when something goes wrong they take care of repair and so on, which is very interesting because 98% of the time, you’re not using your car. And other people can use your car when you want them to, and it’s – and this type of concept needs some organization because it needs the government to support it. It needs some finance, government should say this is a good thing, because you want even more, get a parking spot maybe because you want availability everywhere. And all these ideas came up based on logical sense and smart city ideas.
Other great example is smart working center. Well, this is not really one in Amsterdam to be honest, this is one in Seoul, but it looks pretty good. And we started out working with smart working centers, build a new building right next to the highway, because we thought when people come in a traffic jam – together with a whole bunch of other people among Cisco which was – thanks for the effort, it was brilliant. We all thought, people want to avoid traffic jams. Go left, get into the smart working center and get in the car again two hours later and start driving. Well, that was probably in the U.S. it’s probably true, and in Holland it’s not today. A smart working center needs to be an alternative to getting in your car. The new philosophy is it should be a place to work within five to ten minutes cycling of your home. But we didn’t thought of that, we thought well, people get in their car, see a traffic jam, go left, work for two hours, get in the car again and drive away. But once people are in the car they stay in the car and put on the music and start doing their phone calls and so on. So nowadays, new philosophy: on your cycle, within ten minutes you should be in a place where you can work, where you could meet people, where you have telepresence and so on.
It’s all these things you learn from failures. But the only way to organize these things is to do a whole bunch of them, learn results, bring them together, and do it better. And well, from this perspective, in a fashion you have this horizon but you don’t know exactly where you’re going to. I mean, this is a beautiful view though but when you stand over there you don’t have a clue to go to, or you have the clear horizon but you don’t know really where to go to and it’s very hard, especially for government organizations, to understand – for large firms most of the time as well – that you’re not sure yet where to go. Maybe you need to go left or right and you need to be pretty manageable and quick respond to things that are happening, and for large organizations it’s very hard. So we believe you need some small organizations who could adapt fast and facilitate entrepreneurship.
And then it’s collaboration, and this looks a bit like – stupid picture maybe, it’s a stupid picture – but logically, the women on the right, for you, are carrying it because they are used to doing this. It doesn’t look fair but actually it is because they do it with more ease carrying it on their head then other people could do there. And sometimes you give something back in another way. It’s – collaboration is not always logical. Sometimes people need to work harder on a certain moment and then other moment people do something back for you. And also, this is very hard to understand, like Deutsche Bank told a moment ago, I mean, the return on investment is not always in the place where people invest so it’s very hard to organize these collaborations and sometimes you need unusual parties to help doing that and to avoid if you only talk about technology, only about solutions, without implementing them on a large scale.
Bottom line, it’s all about hand shaking. So hopefully we – rest of this conference, we all shake hands. Hopefully – maybe we can do a practice of the – no; get this world record because, well, we could win. No, but it’s all organizing the people meet each other, organize the people start to collaborate with each other because it isn’t only match-making as well. You can introduce two people, they say, “well good idea, good idea,” and then go home again. Sometimes you need help as well to bring things a step further. And I think you try to, as a city, you need to organize these things as well. So infrastructure is brilliant, as I understand a moment ago, and now you should make sure it’s open for everybody and you should make sure that entrepreneurs get the opportunity to work with it, and sometimes they need some help. Thank you.
Thank you, Ger. Learning from mistakes and organize serendipity are the things that need to go on top of those large infrastructure investments. I’d like to hand it over now to the third speaker, Josep Roig, and I ask Josep to basically take it a step back and looking to what works from an organizational and governance perspective on those type of implementation and progress. So how does the public and the private and the cities come together in a sort of, again, organized serendipity. Josep, the floor is yours.
Okay, thank you Nicola. Well, as Nicola said, I have changed from Metropolis, this association of metropolitan governments, to UCLG, that is the association of local governments; just started first of September. And the first meeting with my team they were asking me, “Who are we?” And well, probably we are a local government network. I think the network is also very useful as a term for our association, but we are global. In fact, what we try to be is a global action network of local governments. In a sense we are moving in that space sometimes called “glocal” and it’s very difficult to understand.
So what do we really do? And I gave them an image of what I think we are doing. I said, “Well, we are really are launching UFOs.” We are trying to launch unidentified flying objects that in a sense they are trying to give the message from local governments to global governments and also to the same local governments. So what we are trying is to bring some ideas, some action through using some best practice to learn from other stakeholders and then use our network to send message back, sometimes to international institutions. I must say that we are not very successful sometimes when we send message on sustainability or on other issues.
Just imagine that the – to the United Nations we are – when we queue on one of their events, they put us on the line of non-government organizations, so it means that they don’t think we are government. Okay? Fortunately I think that if you look at, you know, new electric vehicles or water or trying to solve energy problems in buildings, I’m not so sure that – you’ll have to go through local governments, so you need local government and I think it’s better if we start putting local governments from the beginning on the discussion of those big global issues because if not, when you get at the end, you find that you are not able to implement your solutions.
I would like to review very quickly one of the groups we set up, one of those unidentified flying objects that sometimes are committees, working commissions, etc. This time it was what we call a partnership for bringing innovation. We tried to set up a group between local governments, some stakeholders, private companies, to help us think a little bit about how innovation is being approached by local governments. So we did two years ago a commission where Cisco was very active and we kind of started discussing the issues from the point of view of the local governments. So in fact we realized that there were two things. One problem was how to foster innovation in cities, and the second one is, well, to strengthen and publicize innovative solutions amongst the – spreading innovation in a sense.
We look at both things, but first of all, I think in the case of Amsterdam was very clear. We need to have a kind of framework of thinking about the process of innovation in local government. Local governments are not like private business. Sometimes the idea of innovation is a little bit different. It’s difficult to introduce the idea of innovation sometimes on a more bureaucratic structure like local government. There was a kind of thinking on that. We thought that it was very important to emphasize the idea of public-private partnership for innovation. If you look at any innovation nowadays, you cannot expect local governments do it alone. They have to work together with the private companies they want to be really effective introducing innovation. So this is one of the key issues.
The other thing is that when you look at the type of innovation that is going on in local government, it’s even though done in the private sector, we find the same ideas are sometimes coming from technology, sometimes they are coming from changes in the demand side, sometimes they are coming from changes on the value chains on the supply side, so the local governments are not that different. They are providing services and they need innovation in the same way than private companies.
And we have stressed very much the idea that some way that adds a role that the association, we have to play. We have to create communication and promotional channels. That’s an important idea that came.
And another thing that came out of the group is that there are barriers to implementation of innovations and I think here, I think that the main idea that came out, and it’s not a new one, but I think it’s good to remember, is that to implement any innovation you probably have to work in four things at the same time. You have to change the values of individuals. You have to change their actions. But you have also to change collective ideas and collective actions. So any of the cases you have mentioned – on mobility for instance, I mean, you have to change the ideas of citizens on how they use their own mobility, but then they have to change. It’s not enough to say that, “Well, it would be better not to use the car,” and then use the car. You have to change your actions. And at the same time you have to make sure that local government and all the other levels, they are also changing their mind and their systems. You cannot, you know, change the way people is using mobility if there is no strong policy on public transportation in a city, for instance. Those four things have to be brought together. And sometimes the barriers I think this is that sometimes we are advancing in one of the quadrants but not on all at the same time. And the difficulty of implementing innovation in cities is that you have to approach the four things at the same time.
Another thing that we wanted to try in our group, and that was especially with Cisco, we wanted to try a pilot project. So we had the pilot project on IT infrastructure, Cisco in Barcelona, to see how city like Barcelona could improve the – what I would say, the infrastructure platform of the city to make sure that IT technology is utilized in the same way by the different departments of the city. So this is a project that is going on now and I think that we’ll learn quite a lot on that. Not only on the technical point of view; I think that we are learning a lot of lessons on the legal and institutional problems that we may have. I mean, it’s very difficult for a city to implement a project with a company and to make sure that this is open to all the rest of the companies; that there are no problems, legal problems, on these type of things. This is the objectives of the project in Barcelona. But let me go to the more general activities that association like ours can do to help improve innovation.
In fact the question, I think it was raised here, in a sense it’s the question that we start. It’s why it takes so long to transfer innovation from one city to another. And this is a key question that keeps being asked by our members and it’s not easy to answer. Sometimes it’s legal and economic regulations that not allow for standardization and scalability of solutions. But sometimes there are different reasons on that.
Then let me go very quickly on the summary of recommendations, very simple recommendations. One of the ideas is that in local governments there is no, yet, clear introduction of the idea of innovation management. I think that we have to work strongly on that. It will require training. It will require some individual skills and organizational abilities. So this is not yet in many of the local governments, so I think that should be a key point for local governments. We insist that also integration of the idea of a CTO or CIO in a sense very much linked to organizational changes. It’s not the technology itself; it’s the technology as a facilitator of changes in the organization, so this is a key issue. And not many cities have really a chief information officer linked to the organizational change within the local government.
Public-private partnership, that’s another key message. We need leadership for innovation. That’s sometimes difficult. Some of the mayors, they face probably so many problems that they don’t have enough time to look for the future and to introduce new ideas or innovation. So that’s the vision about the future of the cities. It’s a very important thing, and sometimes it is lacking.
Open innovation and shared experiences, and participating in international networks. And then we have pilot innovation projects; that’s a very good learning experience. So I think this is some of the message we send. For the associations, we thought that creating a network of innovative professionals was a key activity. Knowledge pooling was another one. Following pilot projects and then changing best practices, training and education in cities, awards of best innovation, promote discussion and reflection on cities.
Those are ideas that raised, but let me just make a – three comments about the spreading of innovations amongst cities, because I think this is an important – it has – it came out in some of the iterations before. If we look at cities, we have to look at kind of decentralized, diffusion networks or systems.
The first thing we realize is that if you look at local governments, and I think Amsterdam gave an example, the first thing is peer-to-peer diffusion. So when a mayor or a local official starts to be interested in an innovation is when he meets with someone from another city that says, “Well, this is good.” So they trust more the information coming from the other local governments, then the one coming from the technology companies. So you have to be aware of that.
Then the second thing is that for local governments, innovations come more from experimentations by non-experts, that is, users and citizens, than not by experts. So they have a high level of incredulity, I would say, so they don’t trust technology by itself. They need to see it and see that it works.
Then the other thing, and I mentioned that before, local governments, mayors, are problem-oriented. So if you are not trying to solve them a problem, then you’re not going to work with them. If they don’t think that the energy in buildings is a problem, they will not work on that. They need to have a problem to really be active on that.
And finally another thing that was very clear in our discussion is that there is a high degree of local adaptation on any innovation. So let’s take the car sharing. I’m sure we’ll end up with one solution in each city. Maybe the initial case will be the same, but then the behavior, the social organization, the urban planning – I’m also coming as an urban planner – so all the design of the city is very important. So you can not apply general solutions independently of the structure of the city.
So these are a few of the questions that were raised in the group and that – I’m just leaving it here. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Josep, and thank you to all the three panelists. We’d like to open up for questions now for the last twenty minutes of this session.
I have one myself, if I may pose it, and the question really is – it goes back to the discussion we were having before coming into this panel, and we started to think about the city as a sandbox. I have small kids back in Holland who play a lot with those Dutch, famous sandboxes. And in many ways we were looking into the role of government and businesses as providing a box, you know, walls, a network as we call it, as Emilio was mentioning, on top of which sand is poured. And sand is financial means, like the ones that the Deutsche man was speaking of before, as well as data, which are produced by networks. And we started to think about moving away from this top-down view of government and businesses coming together and building this castle into asking citizens to build up – to play with the sand and build the castle themselves. We’ve seen some examples over here.
So the question, this perspective is, what is the role of the government in building those boxes and how should they be pouring sand into it? What is the role of the government should be taking? Is the government investor into infrastructure? Is he an orchestrator who is a stimulator through policy? So what is the role of government in developing innovation infrastructure? Who wants to go first? Emilio, maybe, from Rome?
Yes. But also in this field I think there are important news because until we think that it’s important that you [inaudible 0:44:07] the city, you create optical fiber network, etc. It’s also important today. But in the same time I think there are new important scenarios, and a new scenario is tablet, is smart phone. In Italy we have more or less 80 million, more than 80 million cellular phones with 60 million inhabitants, and in the first part of this year, the people acquired more smart phones than cellular phones usual. In the same time, it’s important that more or less 20% of the cellular phones used at the moment, their connection: data. This is a big evolution in a short time, a very short time. Every month the change is data in our situation. So I think in Italy we have four operators, mobile, very important, Vodafone, Telecom Italia, etc. And I think the possibility to use mobility in every moment – the connection with internet, with service, is very important. For this reason change also the way to do the services for citizen enterprise. Until now when we projected the services, we don’t put great attention to mobility. I think we started with the project we’d been connected with desktop; we’ve been connected with PCs. But at the moment for me it’s very important to use this new way to accessing the network. I think our solution is to concentrate in this different way to for the services to citizen enterprise, so the solution is that you promote development with industries, with universities. This is our solution because it is very difficult for the administration to follow every day the evolution in the ICT field. This is my opinion.
Thank you, Emilio. Any reaction by the rest of the panel?
I think it’s – well, you have the types of activities that the city could do. First of all, well, there’s a role of the city and that is why it’s tremendous that Rome is over here showing leadership. And that’s one of the issues, I think, in our cities, that – I don’t know is there anybody within the City of Amsterdam who can tell about the things that our colleague from Rome just did. I mean, creating leadership; we should go this way with all of us. It’s what the companies want as well; they want to join something, and you’re not sure where we’re heading, because governments tend to change their policies once every three months, and that isn’t very, well, a good situation for innovation on the long term.
Secondly, I think it’s about making sure that you have open infrastructures everybody could use and good access; open up your fiber, open up your networks. Make sure your grid and energy company don’t close the network for themselves. So create open networks.
And third maybe that’s most important but you don’t see it too much, especially also in Asia where you have all the smart city projects: create open networks of companies and give SMEs opportunities to do the piloting, showcase what they could do. Help them by collaboration with knowledge institutions and so on and show what they can do with the new innovations, because in the end, smart cities are about smart people. You should facilitate the smart people to come up with new solutions.
Thank you, Ger. Josep?
I agree that one of the first things that local governments do normally, it’s common infrastructure. That’s the first thing. I think they have to be active on that. But it’s true that this has to be open networks, for sure. So I mean, if you look at the streets, the streets are there but they are used for many, many things and many different services and activities. This is a key issue. And I think, I like to use, lately, a new word that he used in Smart Amsterdam: I’m using the word ëserendicity.’ Okay? It’s the serendipity in the city. And I think we have to – we cannot forget that all this infrastructure we put, we don’t know who will use it. It has to be very flexible and very adaptable and in a sense what we are doing is creating unexpected opportunities. I think Gordon was telling something about expect the unexpected. The city’s where you create the opportunities for economic, social, political, cultural opportunities. And sometimes I think we forget this idea that we have to be very clear that cities are the places where those things happen. And at the end, the last stage of this, common infrastructure and open networks is that new activities will go on.
Josep, thank you. Questions from the audience please.
Good morning, everyone. I’m Cathy Garner; I’m Chief Executive of Knowledge Economy Innovations but for the last six years I’ve headed up a partnership in Greater Manchester in the U.K. where we’ve basically focused in on a word we heard earlier today: the ëand’ word. We worked with city fathers but also worked to enable bottom-up innovation.
My question is really about the nature of the change of leadership. I’m very pleased to hear that word coming up now in this conversation because I believe that leaders of cities are in a very interesting place at the moment and smart cities will have smart leaders, but they’re in a very difficult place. Their finances are challenged, they are challenged by moving from leadership by command and control and capital investment to leadership which is orchestration and working with many partners, and they’re challenged from the bottom up. There is no way they can actually control the innovations that are happening in cities, as we heard in Rome. So the really smart leaders will both work with other partners but also enable that bottom up innovation, which in a sense could really threaten their power base. So I’m interested in what do you think the nature of leadership for a smart city really is? Thank you.
Ger, you collaborate, by the way, a lot with Manchester?
Yeah, Manchester, they copied our fiber to the home network.
Well, you know the best flattery – copying, you know, is the best form of flattery.
Borrowed it with pride.
We collaborate quite a bit with Manchester. And I think – how to organize – Manchester is a great example. I mean, Manchester even wanted to be a candidate for the Olympics just to get all the – they didn’t want the Olympics, really, it’s much too small to organize the Olympics, but it made a bid book and organized everybody to see if they could align with all companies, all government institutions, to work on the same thing. And that’s why they built a new airport and so on.
You could do a few things as a leader to show what direction we should all go to, and I think Manchester’s a great example of that. But also other examples – well, not so enough for the mayor of Chicago who really liked birds and had all these bird houses hanging in the city; there are over 2,000 bird houses in the city and all these birds came back to the city because he liked it.
Maybe the best example of showing leadership is that you – as an example, this exmaple I’ll give, what California does with rules and regulations, they say, “Well, in ten years this is going to be the rule,” or “in five years this is going to be the rule.” Make your innovation happen. I mean, this is some sort of leadership as well that goes over the barriers of your elected period and goes a bit further. You dare to look in ten to twenty years; I think that’s part of the leadership issue.
I don’t know, sometimes I’m a little bit skeptical about individual leadership, and I think that we should look more for a kind of shared leadership. So I think this is a – and when I say shared, it’s not only within the city, but also with all the stakeholders. Sometimes I think that it’s true that local governments don’t trouble often enough to learn what’s going on and share the leadership of some of the subjects that are – some are global issues. They have to share this global leadership as well if we want to solve some of the problems that we have now.
Thank you. Any comments from Rome, Emilio?
Yes, I agree with the colleague that put the question, very interesting, and in Italy our experience is this: the position of the local government in strategy of the government was less important than the central government. I don’t know in the other countries in Europe. Also I work in the European Union community, the European community. And I think this is the situation also they have in the other countries in Europe. So the project for big government, big services for the citizen enterprise are always services that are projected for the central administration. In Italy we have 8,000 municipalities and the role of these municipalities is very low in the new project for cities and enterprise. At the moment I’m working to change this. In collaboration with the other cities – we participated for example in major cities in an organization to exchange experience, etc. And also I work every day to also with the government to put in evidence the important role of the municipality. I think at the moment that this role was very, very low in comparison of the central administration. So there are more taxes, health, more and etc., but local government, at the moment, is very, very low in this position.
Thank you, Emilio. I would like to take maybe the next three questions all in one row and then we’ll try and answer together for the sake of time, if you please.
Thanks. My name’s Alec Appelbaum, I’m a writer in New York. I’m just trying to understand the push and pull here between constituents and governments doing this innovation investing. So are we – is the model that you guys are celebrating one where government invests in fiber – not so for microphones – where government invests in fiber or whatever other network technologies you identify and then sort of unleash innovation that then makes city services better? Or is there also a model worth thinking about where there are needs identified in communities that might be disenfranchised, and then there’s a technological fix that applies to that, either in your experience or in ones you’ve seen?
Thank you. Can we have the next question?
Building on that same theme – by the way, I’m John Coleman from Ford Motor Company – building on the same theme, I’m interested in your views on how to engage people in cities or around cities that are on the margins; the people that are not financially able or not currently engaged in the formal economy. How do you bring them on board? Looking at the opening keynote, some of the best examples were where they engaged people in favelas and slums and places that otherwise we would not look for solutions, and I’d be interested to build on the idea of ëserendicity’, that serendipity and simplicity together are part of that solution. But I’d love to hear your opinions.
Hello, my name is Ziona Strelitz. I’m from London where I run a practice called Responsive User Environments. We study building use and how that interfaces with the demands that cities make and urban performance. And one of the key resources that has not been much headlined to date is space. So I’m wondering how you can really talk about creating better urban performance unless we get more granular and look at the resource load of how much space is used, how much space is serviced with building servicing. And I’m wondering what the panelists have to say about the opportunities that changes in technology and changes in mobility patterns bring to their organizations to allow them to take leadership in more efficient space use in the way they operate as large organizations and space users themselves.
Thank you. We have two questions. One is about the intersection between spaces and mobility and connectivity in many ways. The second one is innovation at the edge or the margin. The third one is the push versus pull model. Who wants to give it a try first?
Well, obviously the demand is – you should listen to people and give people the opportunity to act smart. Means the government has a role that you provide things that’s needed for people that want to come up with improvements of the quality of life in some kind of ways. On the other hand, it’s – when you talk about infrastructures, like the example I gave with the light bulb, I mean, there really was a German guy, Goebel, who invented a light bulb earlier, but he didn’t have electricity on a commercial base. So it’s a bit of both, I think. I think the fiber network in Amsterdam is a good example. The city invests $2 million – $5 million I think in the project and private sector invests half a billion. But they are equal partners in some kind of way. So there are models thinkable of what’s the need and how to collaborate in these things. But you’re absolutely right that the need from people is most important. But when you think about healthcare issues and elderly people getting older and older, come up with e-health solutions – that’s not something they think of themselves at first sight. So in a fashion it’s also giving people insight in the new innovations.
Secondly to make it open for everybody and involve everybody, I think that’s a key issue. When you talk about energy savings, everybody sees that also people that – well, when they still own a house but when they save energy it’s interesting for them and help them with it, but they don’t have the mobile phone to use the thermostat maybe. It’s very hard to do this inclusive kind of projects and the only thing to do that and to help these people to do their innovation, social innovation, is to facilitate them in helping them to get access to the things they need. Well, the Netherlands is a socialist and labor party, so we give free connections to broadband, example given, to lots of people and make access points for all types of things.
And the last example – the question, sorry, is when you talk about mobility: yeah, I mean, it’s going to change. When you have people moving through a city based on the mobile telephone signals you could easily start to think about how can we make these things better. You can make new balance like the working place thing I mentioned. It’s very successful now in Amsterdam the going to bike to a place to work instead of getting into a car. But there should be really real alternatives available before people start to change, but I think we are a paradigm shift moment in work, I mean 30-40% of the people doesn’t need to go to one place every day, so this is the moment to change, I think, for that perspective and governmental organizations could give a big example by changing themselves. City of Amsterdam is reducing their office buildings at the moment by 40%; going from 200 buildings to 120 example given, and I think most organizations could have such impact.
There is by the way a very interesting program called Smart City in Amsterdam. We’re going to cover it this afternoon in one of the breakout sessions for those who are interested. What is your view, Josep?
No, and so a little bit on the second question. The idea that people go to the city and nobody can stop that, you know? That, when you look at Lagos or Nairobi or any place, people are going there because they have expectations and they hope there will be serendipity there. And I think that in a sense if you could really kind of have an index of serendicity in – that would work also in the slums. I think if you look, for instance, at the policy of slums in Brazil, there was a key moment where, you know, slums were considered not being part of the city. Once you think that the slum is part of the city, then what you have to do is to increase the opportunities there. And I think that was one of the successful parts of the slum policies in Brazil that now, in some cases we have quite a successful job now linking together African cities and Brazilian cities because they learn from each other. And this idea of having slums considered as part of the city and they have also opportunities there, and that we should increase the opportunities economic, social and political and cultural there, that’s a key point for our slum policies.
Josep, thank you. We’ll expect you to come back to the next Meeting of Minds and present the serendicity program from UCLG, this plan you’ve been mentioning a couple of times. Last words from Rome, Emilio, before you close?
Okay. After these questions my opinion is this: for example, for mobility, until now, when a manager of the city think about the project, about mobility, the solution was in the past satellite sensors, etc., no? Today I think there are new important news and the news are the new applications. If they are used every day – iPhone, iPad, etc., Android system – it’s possible to have a simple application for mobility. And it’s impossible that the government on the local, the local government, promote these applications to solve the problem of mobility. It’s the citizen that, with the message every day in the network, designs the situational traffic. For this reason I think that our mentality must change and the most important care is about the new application with the new connectivity and the new portal. This is my opinion.
Emilio, thank you very much. We are finishing in time in a very un-Italian way between you and I. I would like to end by basically thanking the esteemed panelists for their active participation, thanking the audience for their attention and for their questions, and I’d like to give it back now to Gordon. Thank you.