#24 Southern Regional Assembly, Ireland: "There Is Always Something To Be Gained In Projects"

Episode 30 January 18, 2023 00:43:31
#24 Southern Regional Assembly, Ireland: "There Is Always Something To Be Gained In Projects"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#24 Southern Regional Assembly, Ireland: "There Is Always Something To Be Gained In Projects"

Jan 18 2023 | 00:43:31

/

Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

We start 2023 with our very first co-hosted episode with Alessandro Gaillard, Communications Campaign Officer at the Solar Impulse Foundation and host of the Solutions for Cities Podcast. 

With our host Tamlyn Shimizu, they had a fascinating talk with David Kelly, the Director of the Southern Regional Assembly in Ireland, about collaboration between organisations, local authorities but also regions in Europe, as well as Smart Specialisation strategy goals for this region. 

 

Have a look at the Solar Impulse Foundation's Solutions Guide for Cities on the BABLE platform. Make sure to check out our feature on page 208!

 

Overview of the episode:

01:35 - What does the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) do and what does it cover from a geographical point of view?

5:15 - Teaser: in what other region in the world besides the Southern Region in Ireland would David like to work?

6:45 - What are the goals of the Southern Regional Assembly with their Smart Specialisation strategy?

09:30 - Collaboration and learnings from other regions and cities.

13:20 - What can be gained from Smart projects?

16:36 - What can be "lost" from Smart projects? What are the risks?

18:35 - How can public entities work with private ones?

21:28 - What are the specific challenges the Southern Region is facing?

25:23 - How can regions bring together local authorities effectively?

28:40 - How do cities collaborate with each other in the Southern Region?

30:31 - How are the smaller towns in the region working differently than bigger cities?

34:50 - Flip the Script: our guest asks the questions

40:57 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?

 

Like our show? Remember to subscribe and rate it!

Want to join us for an episode? Contact our host Tamlyn Shimizu.

 

And for more insights, join our Smart City Community!

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:06 Welcome to Smart in the City, the BABLE podcast, where we bring together top actors in the smart city arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope that you'll enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to drive the change for a better urban life. Smart in the city is brought to you by BABLE Smart Cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co-creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE [email protected]. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:47 So today in this special edition, we're diving into Ireland and many of the smart programs the southern region is working on. And, uh, yeah, this is not only an extra special episode because of the extra special guest, but also because I have a fantastic co-host with me today from the Solar Impulse Foundation and the Solutions for Cities' podcast, Alessandro Gaillard. Um, hi Alessandro. Hi. Welcome, welcome onto the BABLE Podcast, <laugh>. Alessandro Gaillard 00:01:13 Oh, thank you very much. Um, well, I'm very happy about the, the conversation that we just had. Um, I think that the listeners will really enjoy and about our collaboration on the guide, but also on the, on this podcast, and hopefully we can keep working together on a, on new exciting projects like this one. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:27 So we've recorded a very interesting episode for you altogether. So without further ado, let's get into that conversation. Alessandro Gaillard 00:01:35 Hello everyone. So today we're David Kelly, who's the director of the Southern Regional Assembly in the Republic of Ireland. Um, my first question, David, will be how are you, obviously, and my follow up question would be, can you describe what the assembly does and what it covers, uh, from a geographical point of view? David Kelly 00:01:51 Sure, yeah. Look, hi to everyone. Uh, delighted to be here. Um, yeah, the, the Southern Region Assembly is one of three regional assemblies in Ireland. Um, we were established back in 2014 under the reform of the local government act, which kinda restructured the local and regional structures in in Ireland. Um, we've a, I suppose, a pivotal role to play in two key areas. One is around regional spatial and economic planning, which effectively translates our national planning framework to the regional level. Um, and then is it facilitates and allows for our local authorities then to align their county and local development strategies. With that, we also have an important role to play in the management of EU funded programs. So we we're managing authority for a regional program, which is funded through the, the European Regional Development Fund. We've been managing authority now for almost 20 years. David Kelly 00:02:47 Um, so we've quite a lot of e e experience in that probably building up our capacity on the, the regional space economic planning set of teams. Our, our region is, um, as I said, it's one of three regions in Ireland. Um, it has a population of about 1.5, 1.6 million people. Um, it covers the, I suppose the southern third of the country or about 40% of the, the land, mass of the country. Um, we have three of the, um, of the, I suppose, five cities, um, of Ireland are, are based in, in our region, so cork, limerick and, and wallford. But other than that, it's probably predominantly quite a rural region. Um, you know, agriculture's quite strong. Uh, agritech indu industry is quite strong, but it has a broad, um, industrial base. Um, I would say o overall, um, it, it's interesting as well that, um, our, we've quite strong ports and harbors as well in that we've quite a number of tier one, tier two, tier two ports in, in the region. David Kelly 00:03:52 So, uh, economically and dynamically, it, it is quite quite a, a, a strong region, but still very much, I suppose, competing with our capital region in, in, in, in, in, in Dublin. Just maybe just maybe touch on, on the governance piece, uh, I think is quite interesting in our region as well and, and the regions in Ireland in comparison to maybe regions a, a across Europe in that the, the governance structure is, is probably less developed, less, less evolved if, if you like, we don't have, um, a directly elected assembly in, in, in the regions in Ireland. Our, uh, political dimension or our board are made up of, um, locally elected politicians who are elected at to the local level in the local authority and local government, and then are nominated to the regional assembly. So we don't have a, a directly elected government of our region. So in a sense, our powers are probably slightly different to what, what you would, um, experience across, across the rest of Europe. Um, which I suppose impacts a little bit on kind of how we do our job and how we, how we, um, implement our, our, our, our policies. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:05:03 Yeah, that's really interesting, David. Uh, and I'm really excited to also speak with you so much because, um, BABLE and sra, Southern Regional Assembly, we have some history together. Um, but before we dive into some more questions, um, I have a little teaser to get us warmed up, um, as we like to do on the Bible podcast. Um, and, and that's, if you were to pick any other region in the world besides the southern region in Ireland, where would you choose to work? David Kelly 00:05:32 Oh, God. Wow. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:05:33 <laugh>. That is an interesting, I opened it up for you. Yeah, yeah, David Kelly 00:05:36 Yeah, yeah. I suppose you could look at it from a number of different perspectives, um, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, professionally, you'd probably look at it in one way. Um, I think the, the, there, there are regions in Finland, which I think are, are very interesting in terms of how they, how they set them up, set themselves up in terms of how they, yeah, they operate in terms of the, uh, I would say the Democratic subsidiary, if you like, that that applies to them and the strength of the regions. Um, so I think from that perspective, from a professional perspective, absolutely. Um, maybe from a, a social or or family perspective. Um, I, I quite like Tuscany in Italy. Um, it's a place I really like, like, like the holiday. And again, you know, from, from a regional governance, you know, the Italian regions are, are quite strong as well. Um, so yeah, I suppose it really would depend on <laugh>, which perspective? Um, you're, you're Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:34 Good options David Kelly 00:06:35 Asking me that question. Yeah, <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:37 Yeah. Yeah. Really interesting. Um, so, uh, as I mentioned already, we, we've done some work directly with sra, um, as BABLE and, um, I know how motivated, motivated you all are as terms as smart specialization, um, and I was wondering if you can give, um, some words on what your goals are with this whole smart specialization scheme and the strategy behind that? David Kelly 00:07:02 Yeah, sure. Um, look, I, I think the work that, that you guys and BABLE did for us was, was very interesting and, and very pivotal as well, I would say, um, in Ireland has always been a very, I suppose, um, national approach to our innovation and smart specialization policies down through the years. And look, there's, there's a, you can understand the reason why there's an argument for it. In a sense, population of Ireland is quite small. It's, you know, Ireland could be considered a region, you know, in comparison to other regions, uh, uh, uh, across Europe. That being said, I suppose we still have very strong regional disparities across, across Ireland. Um, and in fairness, the European Commission has always highlighted this through the semester reports, through its country specific recommendations. And those disparities have probably been increasing over the last number of years, rather than, rather than decreasing. David Kelly 00:07:57 And look, from our perspective in, in, in the southern region of 70, we've always seen smart specialization as an opportunity or a tool to try and address this. So we've pushed quite strongly over a number of years that, okay, whilst we may not effectively, um, develop a reasonable smart specialization, eh, for in its own right, we would like to see our national strategy at least taking on a reasonable approach to its smart, the national smart specialization strategy. So the work that that, that BABLE did for us was to, I suppose, begin that process and to really look at that in, in, in the context of how we could shape the national strategy, take on a regional approach to really, I suppose, to recognize the, the regional differences, the regional specificities, and how we can utilize that then to, um, to really try and address the innovation capacity and opportunities that are, are within the region. But I suppose for us, one of the key aspects was to start the conversation and then to see how the funding will begin to follow the policy after, after that. So for us, that that has been a key aspect of, of the approach, um, and I suppose the key ambition for us in, in driving that over, over the last period of time. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:09:18 Yeah, I'm really excited to see how the SRA develops over time. And I'll, I'll stop talking now and let Alessandro also ask some questions. Um, I know he has some, uh, important ones to ask you too, so, Alessandro Gaillard 00:09:30 No, I mean, I, I was really interested in what you, you, you mentioned as, uh, also in your, uh, in your teaser question about, you know, other regions. And you seem to know, for example, about the, the, the finished regions. And a lot of what you do, if I understand correctly is, is connected to your programs. You also mentioned this master, you know, the analysis of, uh, of a territory of all territories, but do you cooperate with other regions in Europe? I mean, I saw that in particular you're focusing on scaling up investments, uh, to improve, uh, energy efficiency. That's something that is obviously very much linked to what we do at the foundation. Um, is there anything there in terms of collaboration with our regions where you can maybe cite a few examples of where you've learned something, um, from another, uh, European region or that you are helping someone with something that you've put into place in, in Ireland? David Kelly 00:10:20 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, look, you're right. I mean, cooperating with other reasons has, has been a, I suppose, a core aspect of our work for quite a number of years. Um, I suppose one thing that I've learned from, I suppose working in this area is that nobody has a monopoly on what's the best thing to do, what's the best practice, what's the right thing to do? And there, there are always opportunities to learn from what other regions across, across Europe are doing. Um, and it's something that we, we've engaged in quite strongly over, over the last, I would say, 10 or 12 years. Um, you know, sharing ideas, sharing best practice, engaging with, with, with other regions. Um, and, you know, you mentioned the energy efficiency, and that's just one of the areas that, that we have actually, uh, gotten involved in directly with, with some other regions through InterG primarily. David Kelly 00:11:10 Um, we've, we've become a, we were a partner in a, a project called Empower, which was looking at the whole energy efficiency, um, piece in residential properties, primarily large residential properties, apartment complexes, flat complexes, and so on. Um, so I suppose under our national Climate Action plan, um, we have some really ambitious targets to try and, and, and meat in terms of reducing our, our, our carbon footprint, our carbon outputs, and this, this is very much source in our, um, in our housing stock as well to try and, and reduce that. So through that <inaudible> project, we looked at, um, I suppose various, um, different practices across a number of regions, um, in, in, in Slovenia, in Germany, um, and other regions I suppose, and how best to, um, not only, I suppose, retrofit the buildings, but also how do you monitor the, um, I suppose the, the benefits of that, that, that, that, that efficiency in terms of ensuring that you're, you're, you're doing the efficiency measures correctly, but also about the behavior change piece. David Kelly 00:12:27 So ensuring that the occupants understand the benefits of it, and then how we can change, change their behavior, uh, to align with reducing the, the carbon emissions. So in a sense, it's very much kinda a smart approach adopting a smart approach to, to achieving that. Um, it's also a key aspect of our new regional program as well, uh, in terms of, uh, retrofitting, um, private residential, uh, units, um, which, which are probably poorly built stocky for like, down to the years, um, and particularly tho for those that are at risk of fuel poverty. So again, it's picking up aspects of what we're learning from, from our partners across Europe and trying to implement that in, um, in, in, in, in. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:13:16 Yeah, I, I actually have a follow up to that as well because, um, you, you mentioned one of the projects in Power, I believe, um, you said, uh, do you have any other projects, um, that you, you want to highlight today and maybe some of the biggest lessons learned and different challenges associated with those? David Kelly 00:13:34 Sure. Yeah, no, look, I suppose there, there's quite a number of projects that we, we, we've been involved in. I, I would say look, all have been very, very successful in, in, in, in, in, in their own right. Um, and we've gotten involved in projects across a whole range of, of policy areas, um, I suppose primarily to help support the implementation of our regional space economic strategy, and that, that that high and basing of the, the greenest region in Europe, the most creative and innovative region in Europe, and the most liable region in Europe. So there are a number of different areas that we've, I suppose we've sought to partner up with other regions to help us deliver on those. So look, I mentioned Empower, um, matchup was another project, um, where we looked at, um, I suppose smart and sustainable mobility transport options, which was very successful. David Kelly 00:14:29 Um, our Bluegreen city project, which was looking at nature-based solutions to, to, um, to, to address challenges around, um, uh, um, issues in our cities and, and, and towns. And we developed a, a, a Blue Green City framework. Out of that, we developed a, a 10 minute town framework from our, our matchup project, but then also, I suppose our, our cohesion project, um, which has been, uh, I suppose very instrumental in driving our, I suppose our smart agenda. It supported the work that we, we did with you guys around the, the smart specialization, but it also helped us develop a, a framework for what a smart region might look like. So I think that that was, that was, that was really, really interesting. Um, I, I, I think, I suppose the lessons from working with, with, with other partners and, um, uh, across Europe and getting involved in these projects is, I think first of all, you have to be with a, with an open mind and be willing to, to, um, I suppose to share what you are doing, but also to take on board what, what, what, what, what other partners are doing. David Kelly 00:15:40 I think for me, one of the interesting things is sometimes it's the, maybe the little small little nuggets that you pick up from an approach when you look at the bigger picture of what they're doing and say, oh, well look, we've kind of been doing that for a number of years, or that wouldn't work in, in our region. But then when you start delving underneath the hood of what they're doing, there are some tiny little pieces that say, oh, yeah, you know, that just that little element could really work for us. I think that's one of the things that we picked up, particularly in the context of, of cohesion project around, around developing our, our, our framework for, for, for the the smart region. So yeah, I think, um, I think the, um, the experiences are always fruitful. Um, you know, and the, there's always something to be gained, um, to in, in involvement in, in, in, into projects. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:16:36 Is there something to be lost? I don't know if that's a, if that's an odd follow up question, but I, I guess, uh, you know, you talked a lot about the benefits, but is, is there, uh, what are the risks, I guess? David Kelly 00:16:50 I'm not sure. Use the word lost, um, <laugh>. Yeah, look, I think there, they're always risks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, there are risks when you're, when you're entering projects with, with new organizations, new partners around Europe, um, that look, you, you may not just, it may not just work well, you may not get on. There could be cultural differences. Um, you may find that, um, administratively it's eating up a lot of time, a lot of resources, um, and the direction the project travels may not have been what you had invis from, from, from the GetGo. Um, you know, so sometimes that, that can be a challenge. Um, but I, I think overall, um, I think by sticking with it, I think there's always a benefit. And e even if projects don't deliver what you expect them to deliver, in my mind, there's a learning and that in itself, um, and I think the one thing that's very difficult to measure is what I like to call the collaboration capital that you gain from working with different organizations that may not necessarily work for the particular project you are involved in now, but there could be something there that could happen in a year or two years time. David Kelly 00:18:12 They say, oh, yeah, I worked at that particular agency in, in, in, in Spain. They were specialists in how to monitor, um, energy efficiency. We're now moving into that area. Let's just give them a call and see are, are they still working in that space? So I, I think, you know, I I, I definitely think there, there, there's always something to be gained. Alessandro Gaillard 00:18:33 And, and you mentioned, you know, collaboration with other organizations also in, in abroad. Uh, but I'm always interested, you know, in knowing how, um, public entities work with private ones. Um, because everywhere, every time I ask this question in, in, in our episodes in our podcast, I get a different, a d I get a different answer. Sometimes it's a frustration, sometimes it's a very, um, healthy relationship between say, the city of, of Prague with local food organizations or agriculture and everything and transport. So I'm wondering what's your experience, and for example, when it comes, you know, to, to mobility or transport or buildings, you mentioned buildings a few times. Um, do you see a sort of fruitful cooperation or is it also frustrating for you sometimes where the business doesn't see, uh, the benefits that it can gain from the alo the green transition in in particular? David Kelly 00:19:32 Yeah, it's, it's an interesting question. I suppose from the perspective where we work and where we sit within the overall, the overall structure, most of our work tends to be with other public authorities. So we're dealing at the, at the policy level. So we're, we're, we're, we deal directly with, with other, um, public bodies who are directly involved in implementation. Um, and then it's through them that the, the engagement happens, if you like, with, with, with the private sector entities. But I suppose when we're developing policy, we're also always, and also very conscious of what the impact of what we're doing will have at the private sector level. Yes, some of the work we do involves implementation directly with, with private sector, but for us, that tends to happen more through, um, maybe kind of contract or procurer processes or that type of approach, rather than directly engaging with the private sector on a day, day-to-day basis. David Kelly 00:20:38 But, but I, I, I, I do think we have to be very conscious of what we do and how we do it in the context of that wider, that wider piece. Um, I would say particularly around that whole, as you mentioned, that that whole transition to the low-carbon economy, um, that whole digital digitalization, um, you know, and that, that whole smart agenda, I would say, um, you know, cause that that's obviously critically important, um, in terms of how we, how we, how we do things better, how we do things more efficiently, how we do things better. And to deliver on that, you need the private sector moving with you because we in the public sector, yeah, we, we can develop the policies, but we can't it. So I think we, we need to be, we need to be conscious of that as, as, as we, as we move forward. Alessandro Gaillard 00:21:27 And what would be the, the main obstacle specifically in, in, in the southern region for you? Um, because I know every time there's a different issue, uh, Paris had different issue, uh, Waterloo, Waterloo, very different issue. What's specific to the southern region where you think, okay, this is our biggest obstacle in moving forward in our, in our transition or in anything else? David Kelly 00:21:52 Yeah, it's, it, it's an interesting question. Um, look, there's probably a whole range of big issues that, that are, are impacting, impacting the southern region that no different to any other region. I think one of the things that, um, we're trying to address is the fact that we are quite a new region. Um, you know, effectively we've, you know, we've only been around since 2014. It's a reconfiguration. Um, how do people associate with our region? How do people recognize our region? Um, how do even all of the local authorities within our region think about the region? Um, I think historically, um, our cities, our local authorities, um, tend to kind of compete for each other, which is good, which is healthy, they need to do that. But in terms of that wider critical mass piece, there are times when collaboration makes sense. Um, so how do we bring them all together to, um, I suppose to work together and think around that in a cohesive manner that makes sense for the southern region. David Kelly 00:23:12 So I suppose because we're, we're, we're a new region building up that, that, uh, idea around collaboration and identity is, I suppose one of the big obstacles we're trying to, trying to address over the last number of years. And there's, there's probably, there's a couple of things, well, a number of things we're doing, but there's probably two things in particular that, that I, that are kind of jumping out. One is trying to develop this concept around what a smart region is. And that's, that's something that has fallen outta the, the cohesion project that we spoke about a while ago. Um, and we see this as an opportunity to, I suppose, brand the southern region as a smart region, and to bring all of these key players along on, on, on that journey. I would say there probably are a lot of smart initiatives taking place at local level across the region. David Kelly 00:24:03 Um, all happened probably individually all very good in their own right. Um, but it's that sense of coordination across the piece that probably isn't, isn't, isn't really happening, um, uh, all altogether. So part of this, this, that we're trying to, trying to roll out on is, is as suppose it's re really start a conversation, get people talking about it, and get people working together and sharing what they're doing in a kind of a, in a cohesive kind of manner, I suppose. I don't think you can expect, um, everybody to try and do the same thing, because I think even though we are a region, there are sub regions with sub-regional, uh, differences and everybody needs to focus on what their priorities are. But I think that that the whole sense of, of coming together and collaborating around it and the sharing of their experiences, um, in a cohesive manner, that we can say that this, you know, we are operating towards a, a smart region building on our, our smart cities and so on. Um, is is, I, I think it'll be, it'll be transformative in a, in a, in a sense or catalytic, catalytic in a sense, in, in terms of bringing all of that together. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:23 Yeah. And, and regions really have that and have that task, right, of bringing, bringing all the local authorities together. And, and we saw that also when we, we did a training with your assembly and you had a very wide participation. Um, maybe do you have any words for other regions that are, you know, struggling with activating the different authorities, bringing them to all together effectively under the kind of regional branch? Um, do you, do you have any words of advice on, on how to do that effectively? David Kelly 00:25:55 Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:56 Um, <laugh> or learning sir? Yeah, yeah. David Kelly 00:26:00 No, I, I think, um, I think ours was, was quite effective. I think it was effective from the point of view of, I think primarily because the topic was quite interesting. The topic was quite engaging, the topic was relevant for everybody. Um, like obviously smart cuts across everything we do. Um, you know, from mobility to smart mobility, from economy to smart economy, from low transition to smart, smart low carbon transition to smart low carbon transition. So, so that, that whole idea around trying to, um, make how we deliver our, our services more effective, smarter, better for our, our, our citizens. I think that probably, um, resonated with, with, with all of our local authorities. So I think from that perspective, um, I think that was a really useful catalyst to bring, bring our local authorities together in the first instance, but also, I suppose demonstrating to them how that whole collaboration piece, that whole working together, um, in a region as I suppose heterogeneous, if you like, it's a southern region, but can actually, um, bring about, uh, potential and opportunities by working together as well in terms of, of, of sharing experiences, but also the, the critical mass of, of the, the, the, the local authorities working together in, um, in trying to address similar challenges and similar opportunities. David Kelly 00:27:40 Um, so I, I, I think there, there is, is the, that kind of icebreaker that's needed if you like, to get people working together. I think when they, when they begin to see that look, yeah, look, yeah, we do have to compete in terms of resources, we have to compete in terms of finances, however opportunities do exist where it does make sense for us to, to, to work together and, and, and deliver on, I suppose, the bigger picture, uh, at at at scale. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:28:08 Yeah. And I think that's really great about the work that regions do is providing that bigger picture. So, um, yeah. Good, good work done on that. Um, maybe Alessandra, do you have any more questions to close us out of the main, and then I have some, uh, of our fun segment to get into too, to, uh, switch things up. So, Alessandro Gaillard 00:28:28 Um, yeah, I was just curious to know if maybe David wanted to mention something that we didn't touch upon, uh, that he think might be relevant. Um, I was particularly obviously interested in, uh, in, in how you, because you, you have a, this, uh, cities in the, in the region, how do they collaborate with each other, um, in terms of, you know, in the mobility, in terms of, um, everything that's really transport, not only of people, but also of, uh, products, et cetera, et cetera. Is there, do you have a, a specific example maybe of collaboration between the cities? Because as you had just mentioned, there is this cooperation at the regional level that was facilitated by, by, by the assembly. David Kelly 00:29:11 Yeah, as I said, that that's something that we're really trying to, to to work on, is to bring our cities closer together in terms of, um, in terms of collaborating. Um, and look, we think this, this smart city, smart region, um, piece is a really strong opportunity for them, for them to do that. Um, on a more probably structured, um, cohesive way, um, as I said, there is always that, that, that, um, that good instinct amongst the cities to, to, to be in, in computation with each other, um, but having them work together on, on, on particular aspects like this, I think is, is critically important. So, so that smart region piece, I think is, is is going be crucial for us, but also for them in terms of, of, of how, um, I suppose how we mobilize that, how we, um, really get the conversation started, um, around the opportunities of, of, of collaborating and working together. So what's the best city now you have to tell us. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:30:14 <laugh>, David Kelly 00:30:17 They're all brilliant. Okay, I'll take Tamlyn Shimizu 00:30:20 That. Good answer. Yeah. <laugh>, you can't pick favorites, <laugh>, yes, absolutely. But the biggest, the biggest city is Cork, right? David Kelly 00:30:28 Cork is the biggest city in our region. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:30:31 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so do you see the, the smaller, you know, towns kind of, um, uh, working in different ways as Cork does, or or do you see them, uh, really on the same level? David Kelly 00:30:45 I know AB absolutely, of course, the, the, the, the work differently, but they all have a very important role to play in, in terms of the, the, the opportunity and the potential that they have. Um, like, you know, as I said, obviously Cork is, is, is the biggest city. It has a particular dynamic, but it also has particular challenges, whereas some of the other, I suppose all our towns and even rural villages play a completely different role in their, in their areas, but they're also opportunities for them to, to, to work together to find their niche and, and, um, I suppose play an important role. One of the, I suppose the key aspects of our, our regional space and economic strategy is around looking at that and how our urban centers, three cities, but also our network of, of towns and villages play an important part in the evolution and and development of our region. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:31:38 Yeah, yeah. Really interesting. Do you have anything else that we, we didn't touch on yet, but you really want our listeners to know about SRA or about, um, any of the work that you're doing or any specific, uh, any specific points? David Kelly 00:31:52 Uh, no, we, we've touched on quite a lot of it. Maybe just maybe just to high reiterate the whole piece around the, the, the smart region. Um, we've done quite a lot of work on us, um, o over the last, last 12, 18 months. Um, we were lucky that we were able to secure some funding through the Cahe project to not only do the work with you guys in, in BABLE around the smart specialization, but also to, uh, procure Manuia University and the International Center for Local and Regional Development to, to develop app, I suppose, a framework for what a smart region might look like. And we think this might be maybe first of its kind, it's building on, uh, our, our smart smart cities, but to, to roll that out to our network of towns and villages and, and across, across the region. So, so it's really, um, I suppose elaborating on one of our regional policy objectives within the, the region space economic strategy. David Kelly 00:32:46 Um, we're doing a, a launch of our, our smart region. Um, next Wednesday is Wednesday the 18th of, of, of January. So we're doing, we're doing a launch of, of the smart region, uh, an online launch with our, our, our key stakeholders. Um, and we're gonna be launching, I suppose, to three reports that the university did. So they, they developed three reports through three work packages, one around, I suppose, consultation what the smart region looks like, one looking at best practice across Europe, and then the third one then about developing what the maturity framework looks like, and then setting out a, a number of, of key steps. So they're all gonna be launched, uh, next, next Thursday. So look, um, I suppose really what we're trying to do with that launch is really to try and identify what are the key next steps to, I suppose, mobilize this to build on the momentum and the energy that has been built up. David Kelly 00:33:37 So really about see, can we get stakeholders together to, to look at maybe what a, a, a co-create vision for a smart region for what a smart region in this certain region might look like. Bringing together all of the key stakeholders that need to be there to do the, the, the mapping exercise. Um, and then maybe looking at what, uh, kind of a, what are the key priority or thematic areas that it might focus on in the first instance that might make sense for the region. I know I said earlier that, um, because of the, I suppose the sub-regional differences will obviously be, uh, slight nuances in that across the region, but I think having a number of high level teams might, might make sense, and then also maybe to look at what a, what a governance structure might look like. And that doesn't necessarily mean a, a kind of a hard governance structure, but just how do you keep the conversation going? How do you keep people engaged? Oh, I think that's, that's gonna be a, uh, an an important but interesting, uh, piece, um, next week. So, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:34:42 Uh, cool stuff and, and I think our release of our podcast should be aligned with that. Well, very good also. So you'll have to watch out for the results of that. Yeah. Um, now, uh, is time for one of our classic babble segments, and it's a segment called Flip the Script, flip the Script. You are the one asking the questions, and I'll be the one answering them. But today, of course, you have two hosts that you can ask questions to. Um, so, uh, do you have any questions for Alessandro and I? David Kelly 00:35:17 Okay. Fairly interesting. Hadn't I hadn't followed this at all or prepared, but yeah. Um, maybe just based on what we've just been speaking about, are there any particular hints or tips that you could give from, I suppose, other regions that you've seen, um, across your, particularly around, um, that smart region piece, what we can do to, um, I suppose maybe push that a, a agenda forward? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:52 You want me to answer first? Alessandro, you have something. Okay. You're gonna piggyback off me then? Yeah, yeah. I'll see how this goes. <laugh>. Good. Um, based off of what you were saying, I, I think it's really interesting, of course, for all regions, um, I think in particular the specialization is, is of course, the topic that we've, we've worked with you on. Um, and I, I think one of the main kind of tips, uh, is, is this openness to, um, engaging the local authorities on a very specific thematic topic that is, and showing them the relevance and the importance of everything, um, how it directly relates to their goals within the city to really get this overall collaboration going. Um, and, and I think you touched on that perfectly with the, with the smart specialization and how the, the topics really finding the topic that, that fits, um, the goals and, and working together on it. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:53 Um, I think it's an interesting topic as well, what you touched on with the competitive aspects, um, because we do see that within, like, you know, fighting for EU funding within cities, and I actually asked, um, other podcast guests about this as well, of how they see this competitive landscape versus the collaborative landscape. And I mean, the overall tone is at this collaboration is like, competition can create some good, um, some good things. Obviously people vying to be the best, but overall the collaboration in the EU landscape is, is important. So, um, I'm not sure if that answered your question or not. David, I'm, I'm used, you know, I'm used to be be the one asking the question, so it's, it's a tough exercise, but I'll say if Alessandro has something better Alessandro Gaillard 00:37:40 <laugh>, let's see. Um, no, I was, I was thinking of, uh, of, of some of the, of the work we do with, uh, with our partners. Um, and two, two example came to mind in terms of, of good practices. Um, we've ran last year and we run it again in April with the <inaudible> region, so the Paris region in France. Um, so obviously our focus is around solutions. So clean technologies. Um, so there are two example, this one with the Paris region is basically we do a kind of a speed dating, um, between local entrepreneurs. We have these clean solutions labeled by the foundation, um, and local public entities. Um, so the cities, the region itself obviously, but also other entrepreneurs. And what we do is we organize speed datings between, um, both groups. Um, so 15 minute meetings where, for example, a mayor gets to meet, um, a technology specialized in let's say wind turbines for urban environments. Alessandro Gaillard 00:38:40 Um, and what we realized is that it's a lot of, um, elected officials don't know about, uh, some of the technologies that are present in their own territory, uh, simply because obviously there are other priorities. They can't know all the technologies that are out there. Um, so we found that it was very interesting to basically have them talk, like they meet, they discuss, and a lot of the time it ends up in implementation. So a city's interested in one of the solutions, they come together, uh, and that's basically what we do at the foundation. So that was one thing is get to, you know, get to know your region, all the entrepreneurs that are there that have all these from really like tiny startups, but sometimes it's really big international groups. Um, so that was one example. The second one is what we did with Luxembourg, so not a region, even if in size wise, and I'd want to insult any listener from, uh, from Luxembourg, but it's quite tiny. Alessandro Gaillard 00:39:33 Um, what we did there was a bit drifted. We didn't go and look at Luxembourger solutions, but we basically brought, um, solutions from around Europe. And what we did is we organized with the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg, um, kind of, uh, elevator pitch. So we had, I think, 20 or so solutions, and they had, uh, two minutes to present the solutions to more than 200 business people from the local area area. And it was incredibly interesting, also led to a lot of, uh, good exchanges and meetings and, and future collaborations. So that were, those were two examples that came to mind when, in terms of what you can do to kind of discover more solutions that can obviously help, uh, overcome all the obstacles and challenges that, that the, the southern region might have. David Kelly 00:40:18 Very Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:19 Good, great examples. Yes. Did we, did was that, uh, how was the interview, um, or spot for you David? Was that, was that nice? David Kelly 00:40:27 It was, it was, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely would like more time deeper into that, particularly the speed, speed dating piece. I think that, that, uh, it's very interesting approach. Um, Alessandro Gaillard 00:40:39 Yeah. And we have solutions from Ireland, so, you know, yeah, yeah. There are some, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:43 Yeah. May might be interesting to touch on this after, after the podcast as well. Um, uh, I, I have a question for you, David. Now you're back. Sorry, you're back as a interviewee now. Um, sorry for that, but, um, it's a question that we ask every single guest and, um, that, and I'm also very interested to hear your response here, coming from the smart region perspective. Um, but the question is, to you, what is a smart city? David Kelly 00:41:10 Hmm. Yeah, interesting question. I think a smart city is one that works well for its citizens that improves the quality of life for its citizens so that our services, um, our decisions are taken effectively, clearly services are delivered well, quality of life is good. So if it works well for the citizens, to me, that makes it a smart city. Cause everything should be about improving the life of the citizens. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:40 Is it same for smart region? David Kelly 00:41:42 I think so. I, I, I think so. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think the very same principles apply. Um, if you're not doing it with the, and, and sometimes the, the word citizen, kinda employees something different, I think it should be more the people living there. If it doesn't work for the people who are living there and involve them to make things better, well then why are we doing it? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:06 Very good. I I think that's a lovely note to end on. What do you think, Alessandra? Alessandro Gaillard 00:42:11 It's perfect, positive, optimistic, <laugh>. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:15 Yes. I, I, I like leaving. And on that note, um, thank you so much, David, for, for taking the time today. It, it's really been a pleasure to, to learn more about your, your way of thinking and, and how you, how you plan to bring the region forward. So David Kelly 00:42:30 Thank you. No, I enjoyed that. Really good. Thank you. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:33 Thank you for listening. Um, and yeah, we hope to see you all next time. Thanks for, uh, to our listeners for, in getting to experience this new format with us, with the, with the double host that you had today. Um, and I also want to invite everyone, uh, to take a look at the Solutions for Cities Guide, uh, by Seller Impulse Foundation. Um, and, uh, Bobo was a partner there and that's really how we started our work together. So, uh, please take a look. We'll link it in the show notes and everything. And, um, yeah, thank you so much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

Other Episodes

Episode 35

April 05, 2023 00:36:18
Episode Cover

#29 The Happiness Research Institute: "A Human-Centered Approach" to Smart Cities

In this episode, we learn how the happiness of citizens can be measured and quantified to inform decision-making in urban planning with two guests...

Listen

Episode 12

July 27, 2022 00:39:43
Episode Cover

#12 Rostock: a "Smile City"

At this new stop on our journey toward a better urban life, we discuss digitalisation, citizen engagement, mobility and more with Claus Ruhe Madsen, ...

Listen

Episode 50

September 27, 2023 00:38:25
Episode Cover

#44 Bristol & UK Urban Futures Commission: Building Efficient Cities For A Just Transition

In this episode, our journey leads us once more to the United Kingdom, where we met and discussed with Marvin Rees, the Mayor of...

Listen