The European Commission and Smart Cities and Communities network (SCC) are increasingly aware that strengthened cooperation between SCC projects and other smart city projects will create more impact. This was reflected already by the conditions in the call text that projects should spent at least 5% of the budget on external collaboration.

The University of Applied Sciences leads this work within ATELIER. As a new kid on the block, we have started our work by mapping and engaging with all existing and new collaborative platforms on smart cities in general and Positive Energy Districts (PED) in particular. We have learned how other ongoing SCC projects have interpreted this task and which activities are carried out. Most importantly, we are developing our own vision and approach to collaboration, the objectives and benchmarks.

This article summarises our findings. How can the collective SCC projects best serve the SCC objectives and impacts?  How can ATELIER profit from collaboration and what can we bring to the SCC community? How can this be best organised? We will illustrate our approach to a key area in collaboration, namely harmonising of monitoring and evaluation of PED projects.


From individual SCC PED projects to SCC PED R&I portfolios

As a first step towards a portfolio approach we need to harmonise the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)  approaches. Across all SCC projects, about 15 PED demonstrations will be implemented, covering a range of innovations. A portfolio approach means that we take an overall perspective across PED demonstrations. This will allow us to compare the results and conclusions from all PED demonstration projects and the other innovation related project activities, such as the lessons learned from PED roll-out, scale up and replicability approaches, the exploitation of PED innovations, and stakeholder engagement. This does not mean we should all use the same list of KPIs, but it should be possible that on the basis of the M&E results of the individual projects, a meta-assessment could be done on the basis of the full portfolio.

Collaborative platforms

A growing myriad of European and global platforms aims to promote and facilitate collaborative learning on smart cities, and more particular PEDs. The SCC community has established several Task Groups on replicability, communication, business modelling and financing, data, and monitoring. At the same time, the EERA Joint Programme Smart Cities runs a PED programme. New are the JPI Urban PED programme and the research programme of IEA Annex 83 on PEDs. ATELIER will actively contribute to the (emerging) research, knowledge management and communication activities both as leading and contributing author. Obviously, we will support the essential efforts to coordinate these programmes.

Knowledge management and exchange of information

We note that much can be still be improved in the access to the results and experiences of past and ongoing SCC projects. The project websites are first key access point for information on ongoing projects. A quick scan of the SCC projects websites shows large differences between projects. Some have published extensively, while other websites of projects, ongoing for years already, remain ghostly empty. We welcome therefore the initiative of platforms to collect these deliverables (e.g. SCC), but we will take own initiative to individually contact projects for further information on specific areas. One of the tasks of our WP on collaboration is make this information available to the project partners within ATELIER. In ATELIER we aim to practice what we preach by making (interim) results available in the form of discussion notes, topical papers, videos, posts and draft reports through the website and other channels.  Also, we would welcome any request for information from ATELIER (see contact email below).

Multi- and bilateral exchange and cooperation between projects

The more projects are involved in a platform; the more difficult the actual collaborative work becomes. Also, we notice the large differences between SCC projects in type of PED innovations and different city contexts, as well as different interests in collaborations. Therefore, we will establish smaller scale collaboration with a selection of like-minded SCC PED projects. For instance, a SCC community of practice is established among SCC cities in the Netherlands, and, even more closely, between the three Dutch cities with a PED demonstration (Amsterdam, Groningen and Alkmaar), and through similar initiatives among SCC lighthouse cities in the Basque region. This will allow peer-to-peer cooperation between partners in different projects, for instance those that develop the monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

Mark van Wees

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences