The second Geographical Chapter Meeting took place on October 1 bringing together 9 Greek cities involved in the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) - (Corfu, Heraklion, Kavala, Palaio Faliro, Patras, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Tripoli, Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni). Amongst the participants, were present Mayors and Deputy Mayors from 4 of these cities as well as representatives involved in the project. The presentations and discussions focused on two major themes: Public Procurement, Citizen participation/engagement.
Babis Chatzis from the city of Thessaloniki provided a welcoming statement that was followed up by Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW at European Commission), with insights and lessons learned during ICC and a brief look ahead into ICC 2.0.
The meeting created a platform for the cities to share their progress and how they implemented technology and initiatives in support of their local economies and the environment.
Kostaninos Dimos (Director, Public Sector at KPMG in Greece) presented the Greek regulatory framework and how the use of public procurement can create efficiency and innovation. Mr Dimos emphasised the value of joint procurement among cities sharing an interesting case study - the Vorarlberg (Austria) eco-procurement case.
The cities in attendance presented examples of procurement and the strategies they used to make it a more effective practice. The city of Patras emphasized the real-world difficulties of the process and indicated delays as a major barrier to smooth procurement and opened the conversation up for solutions.
Costis Mochianakis (General Manager at HERAKLION Local Government Development Organisation) shared a case involving four Cretan municipalities that joined forces in three separate procurements. Whilst these procurements were only partly successful, the case saw smooth administrative coherence between municipalities and demonstrated a model that could be adopted by other cities.
Mr Mochianakis also shared insight into the use of Framework Agreements with the local university that facilitates innovation using ideas such as The Smart City Portal of Heraklion. This example saw cities suggest that a stronger emphasis is placed on Tech4Good in the future to help spark collaboration.
The second theme of citizen participation looked at ways to convert interest into action when community members were put under the spotlight. Citizen Participation was recognized as the goal for smart cities, but its challenges were also acknowledged, and several solutions were mentioned.
Yu-Yi Huynh (Governance and Social Innovation Officer at ICLEI) presented inspirational cases for participating Greek cities including plans and concepts used for increasing engagement and citizen participation. One of these strategies showed a large-scale example of this in Barcelona allocating 5% of their budget to Citizen Participation. As well as a more modest in the Municipality of Cascais where a smaller budget was decided by the citizens on the priority of projects.
All the municipalities shared stories of their citizens being keen to participate but being deterred as they felt their voices were not heard. A variety of good practices were shared such as the use of apps and social media to communicate with citizens. It was agreed that the most effective method for citizen participation starts with a long-term strategy aimed at winning trust and building on that trust with action.
In summary, the meeting was useful for participating cities and allowed for a valuable opportunity for cities to collaborate and exchange their common challenges and good practices. The Greek cities emphasised they would like to continue this collaboration by developing an electronic tool where they can report current events, issues and best practices among each other. The cities further proposed two regular meetings each year, like this Geographical Chapter Meeting, to continue the connections gained during this meeting.