Just over two weeks after the third Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) Lab kicked off in time with the EU Green Week, cities have made it to the end of this flagship event. With sessions spread over the period of 17 days, this City Lab allowed for creative collaborative to span for even longer than previous Labs. At the start of the city lab, the ICC cities were joined by members of the public at our EU Green Week partner event on the zero-pollution city and the city of the future. The launch of the ICC Tech4Good Martketplace and a discussion on the green urban transition were also open to the public. After that though, our cities got to work behind closed doors, supported by our team of international experts. Much of their work focused on the Thematic workshops and peer review sessions.

Green economy and local green deals

Hauke Engel, Partner at McKinsey and the Thematic Network Coordinator led this session with the support of Elsa Durieux, Senior Officer at ICLEI. The workshop was divided into two parts, the first on Local Green Deals which was presented by ICC representatives - Lena Tsipouri, ICC lead expert for the cities of Patras, Tripoli and Corinth and Katrien Rycken, Director, Leuven 2030, Leuven.

Ms Tsipouri explained the success of the Local Green Deals in Greece, with 13 cities having developed theirs so far despite the obstacles of limited budget and human resources for several cities. Meanwhile, Ms Rycken discussed how the action and initiative from concerned citizens and scientists pushed greater ambition for Leuven’s climate goals. Leuven has now pledged to become climate neutral by 2030 and has designed a roadmap – that can be adapted by other cities – to achieve this. The city will also join the mission area on climate neutral and smart cities launched by DG RTD.

The second part of this workshop heard from three key voices on the topic of retrofitting. Focko Imhorst, Associate Partner at McKinsey shared data on the impact of heating and cooling in overall GHG emissions. He revealed that by using renewable energy in heating and cooling devices, a reduction of 70% of the current emissions will be observed. Mr Imhorst emphasized the importance of a holistic approach in the different phases of the construction lifecycle to ensure full coverage. Joshua Ciba, BIM Manager at Hamburg Port Authority, Hamburg then discussed how Building Information Modelling (BIM) – like the one currently used in Port of Hamburg - can be implemented in the public sector. Finally, Sebastian Holmgaard Christophersen, Innovation Consultant at ITK LAB, Aarhus, provided a brief overview of Aarhus’ current project that uses robots to clean the city river   amongst other interesting and innovative developments in the Danish city.

Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration

As cities gathered for the next thematic workshop, they were welcomed by the Thematic network Coordinator Thomas Weber, Associate Partner at McKinsey. Core cities then provided presentations before diving into an open discussion on common pitfalls and challenges of implementing new measures.

Su-jeong Lee, Deputy Director, Global City-to-City Cooperation Team, City Diplomacy Policy Division, Busan who demonstrated several of the cities policies, apps, objectives and projects. Two representatives from Rijeka, Tatjana Perse, eGovernment Advisor and Kristina Dankic, Health and Welfare Programme Advisor then captured the audience’s imagination as they shared their cities’ work related to the digitalisation of the social welfare claims.

Mr Weber closed the workshop by exploring the challenges that cities are faced with when implementing policies under this thematic track. This highlighted three major issues: neglecting an enabling environment, a lack of project management and lost focus on citizen experience.

Upskilling and reskilling

This session consisted of three relevant topics, the Pact for Skills, designed tailored re-skilling initiatives and the future of work in Europe. The Thematic Network Coordinator Niels van der Linden from Capgemini introduced the workshop and provided a short overview of the Guide to support reskilling initiatives in cities which will be published later this year. Vanya Hristova and Valentin Spendzharov from Haskovo summarised the Pact for Skills and described their city’s local ecosystem efforts for their pledge for the Pact.

Angelika Marning and Anne Marie Frederisken from Aarhus then presented a policy introduced by their city which reskills the unemployed for green companies. The focus of this project was to improve social inclusion by getting people who were unemployed long term back to work. The ICC cities of Derry/Londonderry and Pori have engaged in cross-city collaboration to reskill their workforce to be fit for Industry 4.0.

These were outlined by Saverio Romeo, ICC Lead expert for Derry/Londonderry and Prita Ihmaki, International Business Development Manager Robocoast DIH, from Pori.

Finally, a research study based on the future of work in Europe performed by Tilman Tacke from McKinsey Global Institute was shown. It revealed distinct regions in Europe which they labelled as “dynamic growth hubs”, “stable economies” and “shrinking regions”. Mr Tacke further explained how future automation will transform most occupations across Europe, despite only 10% of occupations being able to be fully automated currently. Further, the possible serious implications of Europe's ageing population especially in the shrinking regions were discussed.

Green and digital transition in tourism

Thematic Network Coordinator Dolores Ordonez, General Director of AnySolution began the workshop by underlining the increased interest in the tourism sector and the critical need for tourism data before diving into the three part agenda. Misa Labarille, Policy Officer – Tourism, DG GROW, European Commission, discussed on the topic of tourism recovery and smart tourism strategy and shared the Commission’s actions so far such as the Green Pass, Safety Seal before presenting the guide for EU funding for tourism.

Three of the ICC cities then took to the stage for the Green and Digital Solutions in Smart Destinations segment. Susan Floyd-Matar from Nice spoke about the different aspects of Nice’s tourism industry, the protected green assets and the digital initiatives they are developing for tourism such as the Smart Destination Cross Border project. Whilst Marco Bettini from Venice impressed the audience with innovative solutions that use mobile phones to gather data and manage the city to tackle the issues caused by tourists in the city. Finally, Pedro Homar from Palma explained their efforts to encourage tourists to behave in a sustainable way – such as not parking in the city centre – so that the city can be better managed.  

Looking at tourism in a post-COVID world, Edoardo Colombo, ICC Thematic expert for Metropolitan City of Capital Rome gave an overview of the different initiatives such as the Rome Safe Tourism Seal and the Rome data platform ‘dashboard’ which manages key aspects of daily life of a large city. The session concluded with ICC Thematic expert for city of Valongo, Joao Moutinho, recalling the past, present and future of tourism in Valongo.

Supply chains, logistics and the economics of mobility

The last day of the thematic workshops saw Stephanie Haag, Associate Partner at McKinsey and Thematic Network Coordinator guide the two sessions on Urban Mobility, Freight and Industrial transport. Paola Chiarini, Policy Officer, DG MOVE, European Commission kicked off the workshop with an outline of the main European level policies on sustainable urban mobility and logistics and initiatives relevant for cities.

The main existing and future trends impacting urban mobility were explored by Luca Milani, Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company who also provided examples of how cities are keeping a balance between public and private transport. He also discussed trends towards micro-mobility and new business opportunities. Arizona’s mobility innovation efforts were showcased by Dominic Papa, Vice President at Smart State Initiatives, Greater Phoenix Connective who described how they successfully established a mobility innovation zone to attract companies to test automated cars. Chris de Veer, Strategic Advisor Smart Mobility, Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, presented how Alkmaar’s four sustainable hubs which will tackle growing CO2 emissions: logistic, public transport, parking and street/neighbourhood.

Discussions on the freight and industrial transport topic were opened by Anja Huber, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company who began with exploring the implications of increased e-commerce deliveries, which were accelerated by the pandemic. She urged for structural change to be made to avoid difficult future scenarios if the status quo is maintained.  Tim Vervoort, Consultant, Modal Shift, Antwerp then showed the freight delivering tool that uses data to help improve efficiencies in delivering and remove dangers of large trucks in the city of Antwerp. Finally, Milan’s sustainability mobility project and different policies such as full electric public transport, zero-emission zone and emission urban goods transportation programme were presented by Elisa Torricelli, Project Offer at City of Milan.

The ICC looks forward to seeing how the ICC cities take on the lessons learnt from these thematic workshops and apply them in their next steps on their ICC journey!

A session on Transversals for the ICC cities has been postponed and will take place on June 29 at 13:30 CEST.

In addition to all the working sessions, participants to the City Lab got a tour of the ICC Tech4Good Martketplace as well as a sneak peek of two upcoming ICC publications: our Local Green Deal Blueprint and the City Guide to Reskilling.  Follow this account for more news on them in the coming weeks. Also stay tuned for the fourth ICC City Lab which will take place in October 2021.