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.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:21 I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope you'll enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate the change for a better urban life.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:31 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 Bible platform at Babel Smart Cities eu.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:46 So welcome back to the podcast. I hope you all had a very rejuvenating holiday break. Um, to bring you all back into the flow of the podcast, we have the very first episode of a special collaboration with one of BABLE's EU funded projects called SMCNetZero, about SMCNetZero. So the SMCNetZero Collaboration Network supports small and medium sized cities to achieve decarbonization through co-creation, knowledge building, and digital resources. So, um, we're gonna be doing a bit of a series, but it'll be spread out over the coming year or so. So this will be the first of the series. You get a little taste, and then you're gonna have to wait a little bit. Um, but with me today, I have a wonderful crew for you to introduce the project. Um, I have three project partners from SMCNetZero, and I would very much like to introduce you to them. So first off, sitting next to me, a pro of the podcast, it's her third time on here. I was just, we were just talking that we think it's, uh, I think she's the person we've had the most on the podcast so far. Um, so it's Nikita Shetty, my lovely colleague who is our UK and Ireland lead for Bob. So welcome Nikita.
Nikita Shetty 00:01:56 Glad to be here again. Tamlyn. Thank you.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:59 Glad to have you. Um, and next up I have Graham Colclough. He's a partner at Urban DNA in the UK. Welcome, Graham. Thanks.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:09 And last but certainly not least, we have Rebecca Walsh. She's EU Projects Officer for the Southern Regional Assembly in Ireland. Hi, Rebecca. Hi. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So, um, if you've listened to the podcast, you know that we always start off with a little bit of a teaser question to get going, um, <laugh>, and this is an old favorite. Um, and so it is in the city that you're sitting in right now. So the city that you live in, if, if it were, uh, an animal, which animal would it be? Nikita <laugh>. I'm making you go first
Nikita Shetty 00:02:47 While I keep coming on the podcast. This is not my favorite part of the podcast. <laugh> <laugh>. Um, I would say horse fish, Stu Gut. I'm based in Stu Gut, and, um, uh, the name was of the city was also derived from a horse, so I think because there was a lot of horsing activity around it, there still is. So I would say a horse
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:09 <laugh>. Good, good answer. Um, good. Rebecca, you're the next victim. <laugh>, what would you like to, what would you like to pick?
Rebecca Walsh 00:03:17 Um, so I'm in Waterford City, um, in Ireland. Um, so I think I would pick, um, a seahorse. Um, it's Waterford, so we're on the coast. There's a lot of water. We've got the river. Um, also, um, we're most famous probably for Waterford Crystal. Um, and, uh, the logo is also a seahorse, so, yeah,
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:38 There you go. Perfect. I haven't had that answer yet, I don't think yet. Oh, great. I am so good. Good choice. Graham,
Graham Colclough 00:03:46 Try this one for size. So a meercat.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:48 Okay. You have to first say where you're located. Yeah.
Graham Colclough 00:03:50 So I'm based in a boyne. A boyne is probably something that nobody will know. It's a very, very small village rather than a city in Scotland. Um, and, and I would say it's a meerkat, um, because it's intriguing, it's agile and swift in motion.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:09 <laugh>, I, I'm gonna have to look up videos of Meerkat to, to prove this validity, but <laugh>. Um, but good answer. I've also never had that one. I actually never had any of them I think before. So, good. Some original answers. So now that we're all warmed up, I would love, um, you all to tell, uh, the audience a bit about your backgrounds. Who are you, where did you come from? What led you to your role today? So Rebecca, I'd like to hear from you first.
Rebecca Walsh 00:04:36 Sure. Um, so I guess, um, my previous roles have all been quite varied. Um, I've worked in sales communications events. Um, I've, I've traveled a bit. Um, so actually a lot of my previous roles were kind of anchored in tourism and travel, um, which is great. Um, I'm pretty new to EU projects. Um, I started my role with the Southern Regional Assembly in February. Um, so I'm loving it. Um, I am working on SMCNetZero, I've got another project, Robin, um, which is focused on the circular bioeconomy. So it's all incredibly interesting. Um, I'm really loving it.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:05:12 Cool. Really interesting background. So, uh, Nikita, please tell us,
Nikita Shetty 00:05:17 Um, I have a background in energy and environment. Uh, I previously worked actually in the automotive industry, uh, back in India, and then started working as a researcher at Fraunhofer in Stuttgart, actually, uh, working on EU projects, one of the first smart cities and communities, project Triangular actually. And, um, started off with babble, uh, when it was founded six years ago. I focus a lot on working with public sector organizations across Europe, focusing a lot more in UK and Ireland on supporting them in their decarbonization journey, in their smart city journeys. And, um, this actually project came up as an idea when we were doing some of these projects and realized that there was a gap for small and medium sized cities in terms of, um, available information and resources. So that's how, um, I started working on this project, putting together the proposal with everyone. So really glad to be here. I
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:09 Remember those initial conversations that we had too about this project. So it's, it's always really cool when it I when you see it happening. Yeah. Um, from very beginning stages. So, um, good and grim. I would love to hear your background.
Graham Colclough 00:06:22 Sure. So, uh, I guess, you know, the important thing, I'm a Scotsman, and we always tell the truth, <laugh>, um, there's a big difference between Scots and English. My, my, my career started way back in the oil and gas industry. So at the other end of net zero, I'm afraid <laugh>. Um, I did that for about a decade. Um, and I did it in various different continents around the world, working with one of the big, uh, oil and gas majors. And I moved from that transformational change in predominantly the private sector. So working, um, sector again, uh, across all parts of the world with large corporations, typically, um, in every sector doing big, big change. And then I realized, um, that actually the public sector was kind of a bit more interesting. So I got involved in a big, big engagement, um, back in Scotland, surprisingly, um, to do a, a transformation for the whole of the Scottish public sector. And that really caused me to realize how profoundly interesting local public services in particular was. So I went back to the group and said, um, I wanna get involved in, uh, in cities. And so I read the led the business that we did at the time for, uh, cities globally, um, and then set up the last 10 years or so, urban d n a with some colleagues, which is focused on city transformation. It's transformation of the market as opposed to transformation of individual cities.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:07:42 Yeah, yeah. Very interesting background as well. So, um, with that, I would love to get more into the project, of course. So for that, Nikita, I'm gonna ask you for a little bit of an overview of the project. What are its objectives, what inspired the project, a little bit more about that.
Nikita Shetty 00:08:00 Happy to kick that off, and Graham and, uh, Rebecca, feel free to jump in there. Um, actually a lot of the project ideation when we, we looked at a funding call that was from an Horizon Connect program. So not really traditionally the, um, programs which focus on, uh, supporting, uh, cities. It was more general, um, extending network kind of project, uh, uh, program. And, um, we had this need that, um, there were many cities, especially small and medium sized cities, who were lacking support in their decarbonization journey. They had unique challenges which weren't being addressed, and they weren't, um, included in many of these pilot European projects. Uh, we were in discussion with many of the partners. So a lot of the project partners are partners we've worked on, already worked with already on many different projects. And we realized that there is a possibility to extend the impact of the work that we are individually doing by creating this network of networks, uh, with the purpose of supporting small and medium sized cities, uh, in their decarbonization journey by providing them tailored support.
Nikita Shetty 00:09:07 So the project is an 18 month project with, um, seven different partners from across Europe. So we have, um, Babel leads the project, we have blocks hub, and we built Denmark from, um, Denmark, uh, Danish partners who are bringing in knowledge and insights from the work Danish cities are doing around decarbonization, uh, Graham from urban d n a, bringing in knowledge from, uh, the small giants network and the work Urban d n a has been doing the southern regional assembly with the work they have been, uh, doing on smart regions and decarbonization with many of the Irish small and medium sized cities. RAs, uh, which is our partner who leads the CB net network in eastern Europe. And amazing network with lots of, uh, cities who are currently facing challenges around their decarbonization journey. And then also the smart city plaster in Spain. Also with a lot of experience around, um, uh, working with cities and understanding their challenges.
Nikita Shetty 00:10:03 We all realize that we have already developed some resources, tools, have some knowledge, but have been focusing on only specific cities that we are working with. And saw this really as an opportunity to create this network of networks where we exchange, uh, knowledge that we have with many different, uh, cities across, uh, Europe, facilitate that dissemination of knowledge, foster collaboration between the small and medium sized cities. And, um, uh, companies, SMEs, knowledge institutions, really help them, um, engage, uh, with them and facilitate knowledge transfer. So those were sort of the main goals of the project, but happy for Graham and Rebecca to add in there.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:10:44 I also have a little bit of a follow up question to you, Nikita, just because I like to play devil's advocate a little bit. Yeah. There was a lot of buzzwords in there, collaboration, knowledge, sharing, all of these words. How do you actually make this a bit more, let's say, down to earth or practical?
Nikita Shetty 00:11:01 Good question. Uh, tamlin and apologies for using so many <laugh>.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:05 No, it's fine. They're good words. <laugh>,
Nikita Shetty 00:11:09 Actually, when we were developing the project, uh, one of the things, uh, during the proposal stage we did was we really tried to identify concrete actions and measures that we can take to support. And throughout the project, we have specific activities that we've planned. So one of the activities is developing a training program, uh, for supporting and providing truly tailored knowledge to small and medium-sized cities. Um, uh, urban d n a is leading an activity which is around supporting, um, cities, small and medium-sized cities to connect with investors. So we have programs like these, we have many workshops planned for facilitating knowledge transfer between SMCs and SMEs, um, and also a digital platform, uh, forum plan, specifically dedicated to small and medium sized cities where they can address, um, uh, you know, for, uh, where they can share knowledge with one another. So there are many different initiatives that we've planned, uh, which would help, um, collaborate more. And knowledge <laugh>,
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:12:13 You're really trying not to use that word.
Graham Colclough 00:12:16 You added another one in there in terms of, um, urban platforms and such. Like, now, if I could pick up on that tamlin, um, you, it's really important. You need to speak in very simple, plain English or plain language, particularly with public sector, and particularly with cities, and particularly with small cities, because, um, uh, it just works better. And I think the, the one thing for me that I really like about the project is that that very grounded aspect of let's pick a topic, let's pick a sector, let's pick something that people do, and see if we can tackle what the project is about in terms of learning and sharing and working together focused in the ground truth. And we've picked, um, mobility. How do you fundamentally change the way that people move around a city as a, a very grounded topic, everybody does it, whether it's a big city or a small city, the experience is are very, very different.
Graham Colclough 00:13:10 And what we do know is we need to change. We fundamentally need to change from, you know, using our own internal combustion engine. Cars drive around to using more healthy transport bicycles and such, like by using public transport and such, like, so that keeps it very grounded. And our hope is that we can sort of demonstrate how we can collaborate and work together better, how we can capture tools, methods, how we can teach each other, what works and what doesn't work, most importantly in that grounded sense. And then use that learning to work across some of the other sectors and, and areas of a city. And I think that's, and it's so important with smaller cities because they, they use plain language.
Nikita Shetty 00:13:56 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:13:57 Yeah, the communication mess message there is really important. Um, can you, Graham, can you elaborate a bit more on why you think SMCs really matter to reach decarbonization?
Graham Colclough 00:14:09 The answer's really simple. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, SMCs, small and medium cities represent the largest portion of the market, so we neglect them at our peril. Most people in Europe, in fact, most people in the world don't live in big cities, and these days they tend to live in urban, uh, environments rather than in rural. Um, so if, you know, depending on the limits of small, in terms of small and medium, and I'm living in six, no, it's less than that 3000 people, I would still consider that in scope. Um, it's a place which, um, which has all of the features of slightly larger cities and needs to change. And if you add up all of of those small places, then they actually represent by far the largest part of the market. That's point number one. Point number two is that smaller cities are less arrogant than the larger ones, which are self-sufficient and can do things.
Graham Colclough 00:15:07 But they have challenges. They have challenges, and it comes down to three. One is they don't necessarily have the capacity to solve all the problems. They may have a few experts, but they don't have experts on every topic. The second thing is they don't have access to money, and money matters more and more these days. So it's a capacity constraint, it's a money constraint. And the third constraint is they have difficulty engaging the market, the supply market. If you are a, in the market an industry, big cities are great because you're gonna get more business with them. Small cities are like kissing lots of frogs. It's quite hard to engage with them. So those are three really important blockers, which we must address. But the good news, the good news is that smaller cities are agile, they're closer to their people, they're closer to their hinterland and agriculture and such, like, and they can move in a more nimble manner. So if you do something in a smaller city, smaller city, you see the results of that far faster. And that's the opportunity. So, you know, the, the, um, Nikita mentioned the small giants earlier, that's our opportunity to identify those that are doing progressive and fun things and really make sure that the lights shine on them, um, in terms of the excellent work they're doing.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:16:24 Yeah, absolutely. Rebecca, do you resonate with some of those things, uh, Graham was talking about in your region?
Rebecca Walsh 00:16:31 Absolutely. Um, from speaking to, um, a lot of the cities in the southern region of Ireland, you know, their challenges are, are the same challenges as, you know, other cities. Um, and I think, uh, this project in particular, um, the, the activities that have been set out really do target a lot of those big challenges. Um, funding, as Graham said, is huge. And it was one of the first things that most of the city said first it was, it was their biggest challenge. Money <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. Um, and so, you know, through the digital platform, um, the project plans to, you know, create a fund finder, um, and telling any of the cities that I've spoken to about it, that they were super engaged, they were super excited about that. They thought, you know, how is it gonna be easier for me to find money?
Rebecca Walsh 00:17:15 Um, so that was one thing that was, um, yeah, definitely a big hit, um, capacity. You know, people don't have the, the time, the, the people, the resources. Um, and so I think in terms of giving real life experiences and, and showing them best practices and showing what's been done, you know, through the site visits, um, we plan to do a lot through kind of capacity building, um, uh, matchmaking, you know, connecting, getting the right partners. That's a real struggle. Um, again, as Graham said. Um, and so yeah, connecting SMCs with SMEs, um, who they might not have known about before. Um, and yeah, through the, through the innovation workshops we plan to do, um, hopefully we can, we can provide solutions.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:17:58 Yeah. Yeah. I'm really interested to see how, how that all works out. And Nikita, what do you think are the main challenges, um, towards decarbonization that SMCs are facing? Do you think it's the money? What else? What, what else is it?
Nikita Shetty 00:18:12 Yeah, I would agree with the points that Rebecca and Graham already mentioned, that, um, uh, funding is a challenge, um, uh, and often, uh, one of the first ones to be highlighted. But of course, as, uh, the secure funding, there are other challenges that come along the way. I think having skilled workforce is an important, uh, challenge. So resources, having capacity, but also having the right kind of capacity. We currently supported actually one of the cities in Ireland in securing fi, one of the small and medium sized cities in securing financing for their net zero. And now they're actually also struggling to kind of fill the open positions who would actually support in the delivery of this work. So, um, having skilled workforce who want to live and work from there, uh, is also a challenge that they face. Um, the second part is definitely economics of scale.
Nikita Shetty 00:19:02 So, you know, the demand is much smaller when you think about the number of, uh, say bike sharing systems that they want to, uh, put in place or, um, smart meters they want to, uh, have installed and so on. So collaborating with other cities is still not that easy. Uh, while everyone sees the need for it, there are still challenges around bringing all of this together. So I think, um, that is definitely an important challenge. Another challenge that I think is key with small and medium sized cities is the transportation infrastructure. So, um, in many cases, people commute to bigger cities for work and commute regularly in and out of the city. So there's longer distance travels. Of course, this has changed quite a bit with, uh, covid and hybrid working environment. But in many of these cases, having sustainable transportation infrastructure, which can really cater to the varying needs, um, is challenging while providing the accessibility and the comfort, uh, that you get while owning a car, uh, mobilizing the private sector, which is something, uh, Graham mentioned already.
Nikita Shetty 00:20:05 And I think definitely a challenge. We've, we've come across cities we've worked with where they've put out tenders and not gotten any response, uh, to these tenders back. So, uh, having a market and having access to the market who are looking at these standards from small and medium sized cities, uh, is also a challenge when it comes to decarbonization, because you want new and innovative solutions. Uh, but many of these ssm uh, SMEs or startups that are working on these areas might be in bigger cities, uh, might struggle with procurement regulations, which they have to address while working with smaller cities. So I think all of these, um, challenges come together, uh, when they're looking at decarbonization.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:44 That's a lot of challenges. <laugh>, it feels like a lot, right? Yeah. That's
Graham Colclough 00:20:49 The real of cities <laugh>. Yeah. I mean, the reality is it's a very complex environment with an awful lot of challenges. Um, and, and unfortunately the gap between the understanding and the industry of the sorts of policies and challenges of cities, there's a big gap between industries understanding about what cities are, um, that I think is a, is another significant gap between those two. So, so there's, this project is about trying to close the gap between, I guess, three parties. One is industry, two is cities, and, and three is the investor. If we can start to tighten and, and have a, a common language of how a means by which they can communicate, then they'll be able to deliver for citizens, which is what matters.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:21:33 Yeah. Yeah. Very well put. And Rebecca, so you, you, you mentioned it before on, on a little bit of these challenges that Graham mentioned, but maybe also going back to what Nikita had, had just mentioned, this mountain of challenges that we're facing. Um, how will the southern region in Ireland, um, how will, how will you, which are the priority challenges that you're trying to tackle with this, with this project?
Rebecca Walsh 00:21:58 Yeah, I think, um, I think best practices will, will be huge. Um, because a lot of the, um, all of the cities in Ireland are currently writing their climate action plans. That's kind of the, the first action, the first step that they're taking right now. Um, and so once they finish those, those will be completed in 2024. You know, they, they will wanna start taking action. Um, and so looking to, um, other cities who have come up with against these challenges previously, um, will, will really be able to help where they, where they start. Um, as well as that, um, yeah, the, the funding, um, particularly for small cities, you know, larger cities find it easier. Um, and so, um, that was really a, a key key area that came up, um, when, when speaking to my cities, um, in particular. Um, so, um, another challenge again that, um, Nikita also touched on already, um, was, um, that the skill workforce, and it was something that was mentioned, um, across the board.
Rebecca Walsh 00:22:59 Um, once everyone, uh, in, in Ireland in particular has finished these climate action plans, they're all gonna be looking for, um, the, the same suppliers. They're, they're gonna have similar actions. Um, and that was one, uh, worry that there's not gonna be enough people to, to help. Um, so, and, you know, are things gonna be delayed because we only have a, a small number of SMEs to help with these challenges. Um, so yeah. Um, it, it just goes back to capacity resources. Um, everyone has, everyone has the, the vision and everyone wants to, to do, um, these actions, but is it gonna be possible to, to do them with the, the workforce that we have?
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:38 Yeah. Yeah. Very good points. And Graham, you um, uh, Rebecca mentioned that, um, basically there are, uh, the best practices, exchange is really important for the southern region. Um, what do you think is the best way that the, this project can help facilitate those best practices? Um, how, how can the project really do that?
Graham Colclough 00:24:01 That's an interesting question. So, um, cities tend to respond to stories that they hear and see from other cities. So they don't trust, um, they trust other cities. They don't necessarily trust industry. Um, quite often, unfortunately, come up with very good answers. Um, so that aspect of being able to show, I, I always hover between best practice and good practice. I think good practice is sensible. Uh, best practice sort of tries to say, I'm doing better than, so good practice for me is a, is a sensible way of a pragmatic way of tackling things. Um, and by being able to, uh, to describe what it's, and also importantly how did I do it is really important, the opportunity for smaller cities, and it picks up on something that Rebecca says in terms of capacity is if we can understand and get cities to focus on their commonalities as opposed to focus on their differences, then they can actually come up with functionally common solutions for shared challenges.
Graham Colclough 00:25:05 If you have functionally common solutions for shared challenges and you can package those up, like in Lego, then you can effectively do something and show it, and it becomes something that can be adopted or adapted in another city. It's not one size fits all. It's actually providing the components that will help another city go with confidence. 'cause I saw it and it worked in that other city. Let me take that and tailor it from my particular context. And that's the, the, the working together bit, the collaboration bit, which is so vital. That's the, the building of capacity, that's the sharing of tools, um, to try and actually help this community work together to, uh, I hate this term. Um, you'll hate this term. I use it a lot, I'm afraid. Demand aggregation, <laugh>. So how can you get economies of scale by aggregating demand amongst small cities?
Graham Colclough 00:26:03 Um, the perception is that you can't do that because, you know, we're not paid to collaborate. We're not the procurement rules stop us from doing that. Those perceived barriers, quite often, more than real barriers and recent, um, discussions I've had in, in internationally on this does reinforce that actually a lot of the barriers are fake. They're assumed, and if you just press and push at them, you, there's ways around. So I think particularly, uh, public sector is, is stretched, is strained, and doing anything on the periphery different, you know, you're not motivated to do that necessarily. Um, and unfortunately we have to work at the very, we have to explore different ways of doing things. And I think that's gonna be one of the biggest struggles that we face moving forward. Not just in this project, but just in the overall market.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:01 Yeah. And, and going off of that also, I was wondering if Rebecca, you can comment a bit on what are your limitations, or as Graham might say, your assumed mm-hmm. <affirmative> limitations, um, or, uh, potential limitations of the SMCNetZero project, um, considering all the ongoing challenges of the SMCs.
Rebecca Walsh 00:27:19 Yeah. Um, well, Graham kind of touched on it, um, as well, but I, I think again, one of the biggest challenges was lack of capacity. Um, and so, um, there's a worry or, you know, I, I certainly would have a worry that, um, cities and, and SMEs will say, oh, it sounds like a great project, but I just don't have the time. And, you know, if they, if if they could engage, you know, we could provide the solutions and we could offer the help. Um, and, and I've seen it already, um, with, with some of the cities that I've reached out to, they said, you know, it, it sounds fantastic, but I just don't have the capacity. Um, so that is a limitation that it's potentially out of our hands. But yeah, as Graham said, maybe we need to, um, push, um, a little bit harder. 'cause we do wanna offer solutions. We do wanna offer help. Um, another challenge, um, again, you know, is kind of the legislation, regulations, procurement processes, um, I think, um, you know, we may be limited in, in what we can change. Um, certainly, you know, I would love to hope to offer best practices or success stories. Um, but, um, you know, um, I think it, it will be limited in how, how far we can, we can go with with that.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:28:32 Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Actually, Nikita, I have a follow up on that. You are very accustomed to cities saying, I don't have time. Right? What is your response?
Nikita Shetty 00:28:43 Yeah, it's actually one of the main challenges we see when we're supporting cities too. So I think what we are trying to do in this project and also in the work that we do, is while we, um, the project would require the specific individuals to invest some time and capacity to take part in the activity, the, our goal is that that time invested is going to lead to an acceleration in the work that they do later. Save
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:29:10 Time later on. Exactly.
Nikita Shetty 00:29:11 Save time and not just save time, but rather go beyond and really, uh, accelerate the things that they are doing, you know, also create a much bigger impact. So that's also something that we would focus on. So while they could invest their time, and I think it's also hard for each of us, right? When we think about our own capacity building, um, it's always that there's so little time available, but I, I felt that every time I have gone through such a program or taken part, exchanged knowledge with people, it has helped me improve, uh, and be more efficient. And that kind of leads to much bigger benefits, uh, over time. And that's, I think also, um, uh, taking your point there, Rebecca, I think, um, something that we need to make sure as we communicate the project activities to, that we really clearly highlight the benefit that it's going to bring, uh, and how it's going to make life easier in future because of the resources we are creating, also the tools that we are giving access to. Um, but I think that's a homework point for all of us to take <laugh> from here.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:30:14 Yeah, absolutely. Um, and also as we approach the conclusion of the discussion, I'm wondering if you can kind of walk the listeners a little bit through the milestones also, like already achieved, although I know it's a new project, um, but also some of the next steps in this journey.
Nikita Shetty 00:30:30 Um, yeah. We started off, um, six months ago, less than six months ago. So, uh, we still in the process of developing many of, uh, uh, the activities, I think one of the biggest milestones currently is over the past, uh, few months, each of the partner has interviewed, uh, SMCs, uh, SMEs and also EU programs. So existing EU programs that are supporting these, uh, decarbonization activities, uh, and are collecting a database of information and knowledge based on which all the other deliverables would be developed, which is a very important, uh, resource that we are developing, and which would be made available to everyone else too as we create this market report. So that's an important milestone for the project, which is happening next month. Uh, but after that we have a series of webinars and workshops, which are primarily focused on, um, facilitating matchmaking and knowledge exchange between our key target groups, which is the small and medium-sized cities, uh, the SMEs who are supporting decarbonization and the investment community.
Nikita Shetty 00:31:34 So this is something that, um, is going to be a big milestone over the next three months. We are also launching, um, a digital forum, uh, with tools, including the funding match tool that, uh, Rebecca mentioned earlier, and a catalog of, as Greg mentioned, having, um, good solutions and good practices. So having that kind of knowledge. So we are collecting this information now specifically for small and medium sized cities, because that's something which we clearly see as a gap. A lot of the good practices shared across, um, uh, many of the different portals and so on. Also on the bubble platform currently are tailored to bigger cities. And, um, it's important for small and medium sized cities to also see that there are success stories, um, um, of which other similar sized cities have done. Um, so that's also something that we are currently focusing on and will be soon, uh, launched very soon.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:32:26 Did you miss anything? Nothing. <laugh>, <laugh> covered the bases. Okay, good, good, good. And now I'd like to also allow a little bit of open floor for anybody that would like to take it. You don't have to to, but I always like to give you the opportunity. Now, may I, maybe I missed something in the questions. Maybe you really thought, oh, this, this idea I really need to, to make sure the listeners know about this. Um, does anyone have any, uh, additional comments before we close out the main interview part? Sure. I had a really,
Rebecca Walsh 00:32:56 Oh, sorry. No,
Graham Colclough 00:32:57 Go ahead. Go ahead, Rebecca.
Rebecca Walsh 00:32:59 It was very brief, um, and it was just because you had asked me about the limitations, um, you know, they, I am aware of that, but I think, you know, um, when putting the project together, um, it was, that was thought about. Um, and so, um, I wanted to also mention, you know, we're gonna be doing podcasts and blog articles. So although we would like hope to engage, you know, cities and SMEs in all of the training, in all of the, um, innovation workshops, we will have podcasts and articles that if, you know, you can't attend an hour and a half of, of a training, you could just listen to a podcast on your way into work. And then hopefully you are, you know, getting engaged, getting some information, and it, you know, it might lead cities then to coming to the digital platform or maybe coming to a training afterwards. So, um, you know, there's smaller ways to, to engage with the project as well.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:33:47 Yeah, listen to the podcast <laugh>. Um, thanks for that, um, promotion of the podcast. I always say that the podcast is great for busy people 'cause you can do other things while you're also listening. So yeah, <laugh>. Exactly. So Graham, you also had something.
Graham Colclough 00:34:05 Yeah, I was just thinking the, the, the question of, um, to, from most of these cities would be, what should I focus on and how should I do it? Um, and the simple answer to that is, um, there are two areas in terms of climate and such, like you can make a big difference. One is around mobility, and the second is around the built environment. So buildings. So those are two areas. Um, the solutions around those. If we can get, uh, the cities together to discover and create together what tools and, and what approaches work or do not work, then that's, that's the, the podcast, the webinars, all of that's the stuff that we'll be doing to actually tackle those two big, big areas of improvement. Um, and I think the second thing, it goes back to something Rebecca mentioned. Everybody's developing a plan. That's all very interesting stuff.
Graham Colclough 00:34:58 Um, and these tend to be long, long documents that go on the shelf and nobody reads them. I think one of the most important things that, uh, small and uh, practical, pragmatic city needs is a simple visual roadmap. If we can say what you work on, these two big areas will make a big start, what are the logical things that you'll do? And actually describe that as a roadmap, then that'd be really helpful. Produce those simple products, share them amongst the, uh, cities, start to actually open that up to the SMEs. And then we're starting to get people trusting each other, changing the mindset. And at that stage, I think people will take the choice to take the time rather than say they don't have the time 'cause they see the value from it. And that value is very real. And in financial terms, it's double digit savings or benefits.
Graham Colclough 00:35:51 It's not small single digit, it's double digit, and it can be very big double digit benefits. So there's a real, real potential, particularly for the smaller cities to, to work together. And it makes the market better for the smaller businesses. So it's, it's a win all around. Uh, and I think, uh, you know, back to, there's a limited amount that this project can do, but there's a lot if we connect with other initiatives that are around to make it simple, to make it clear how, if I'm a small city in any European country, um, how do I actually access that knowledge across Europe? How do I compare context? How do I compare what they've done and learn from the ones that make sense? And understanding what vehicles will help with that is really important, which is why I think this project is practical, focused and, and, and will add value.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:47 Very good point.
Nikita Shetty 00:36:48 Uh, maybe just to conclude there, um, and as Graham mentioned now, um, the goal really is to create this network of networks to make all of this information accessible, right? So, um, I would just say if you are listening in and are, um, stakeholder, any kind of player in the, in the whole decarbonization value chains, a city, a small and medium sized city, or, uh, a tool provider, a solution provider, or anyone who has something interesting to offer in this field, feel, please reach out to us. Um, you can join our website, uh, um, go to our website and find the information, uh, on how to reach out. And, uh, that's the best way because our goal here really is to make all of this resources and information that already exists, because we know there's so much that's already available to support cities in their decarbonization journey. Make all of this accessible. So please reach out if you have something interesting, uh, that can help cities in their decarbonization journey. We would love to feature you and, uh, share, uh, spread the word
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:37:49 <laugh>. Yeah, absolutely. We'll link that in the show notes as well so that you can easily find it. Um, with that, now we're gonna move on. No, we've been having fun already, but now we're gonna have even more fun. Um, it's a, it's a segment that we like to call raw with the punches. <laugh> my favorite. And, uh, the one i, I try to do for every interview, but my podcast coordinator doesn't let me do it for every interview, roll with the punches, answer this or that questions quickly, and with your first instincts. So don't worry, it's very fun. You're basically just gonna answer questions as they come at you. And then at the end you can kind of explain your answers as you'd like. And you're gonna go in this order. So Nikita, you'll answer first as the veteran of this. Oh, thank you. <laugh>. Um, I was gonna say old, but you know, veterans better,
Nikita Shetty 00:38:42 That's not the right word. Yes.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:38:44 Um, then, then Graham and then Rebecca. Okay. All right. Are you ready? Yep.
Graham Colclough 00:38:51 Yes.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:38:52 Okay. Coffee or tea?
Nikita Shetty 00:38:55 Tea.
Graham Colclough 00:38:57 Coffee.
Rebecca Walsh 00:38:59 Coffee.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:01 Good. Uh, data sharing with neighboring cities or independent local data analysis for policymaking. <laugh>, oof <laugh>. That's, that's
Nikita Shetty 00:39:11 Difficult. But I'm going to go with data sharing with neighboring cities.
Graham Colclough 00:39:15 <laugh>, same. Same from me,
Rebecca Walsh 00:39:17 Same
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:18 <laugh>. Um, next question is Ireland in the spring or fall, but Graham, you can answer for Scotland. <laugh>,
Nikita Shetty 00:39:25 I was going to add summer there, but I would take spring <laugh> if that's not it.
Graham Colclough 00:39:29 Definitely Spring.
Rebecca Walsh 00:39:32 Fall.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:33 Good. Um, small or medium sized cities? <laugh>.
Nikita Shetty 00:39:38 Medium sized.
Graham Colclough 00:39:39 Both
Rebecca Walsh 00:39:41 Small. You
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:41 Can't pick both. <laugh> Graham. It's against the rules. To pick both, you have to
Graham Colclough 00:39:46 Small
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:48 <laugh>. What did you say, Rebecca? Small. Okay. Good energy. Efficient public lighting or smart waste management systems. <laugh>, <laugh>.
Nikita Shetty 00:40:00 Um, smart Waste Management Systems. <laugh>,
Graham Colclough 00:40:04 I hate to say it, but I have to say lighting because I launched a project 10 years ago on it.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:10 <laugh>, <laugh>.
Rebecca Walsh 00:40:12 Um, and I agree with Graham Lighting.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:14 Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Citizen Co-creation projects or expert led urban renewal strategies.
Nikita Shetty 00:40:21 Co-creation projects.
Graham Colclough 00:40:22 Citizen led,
Rebecca Walsh 00:40:24 Citizen led
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:25 Direct grants for established green businesses or startup incubators for emerging sectors. <laugh>
Nikita Shetty 00:40:32 Startup incubators for emerging sectors.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:35 <laugh>,
Graham Colclough 00:40:37 Uh, I'll go with startups 'cause it's a bit more innovative.
Rebecca Walsh 00:40:43 Um, yeah, the second one. Startup incubators.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:45 Okay, good. Yay. You made it through <laugh>
Nikita Shetty 00:40:50 Had one
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:51 Soft <laugh>
Graham Colclough 00:40:52 Picking up some odd terms. What was that second thing you said? <laugh>.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:58 That's the point. That's the point. Okay. Just to, just to throw you off. So <laugh>, um, do you want to explain any of your answers? Why did you say medium cities or small cities? Oh, Nikita actually
Nikita Shetty 00:41:10 <laugh>, that was a tough one too, but I, I generally like the idea of, uh, having, um, a bit more of concentration of demand, which helps in making things more efficient in delivery of services delivery in many of the activities we are doing. So I think, um, they, they provide a good balance between, uh, having a smaller group of people, of course, but still having a good concentration of services and resources and so on.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:37 Good. Good answer. Good answer. Anybody wanna argue against it? <laugh>? No. No. It's not
Graham Colclough 00:41:43 Against, but I'd say, I'd say that, that, that smaller, smaller cities have even less capacity and even more challenges. And so, you know, if you're gonna provide help, then helping that community would be really, really helpful. I, again, add them all up and it becomes big
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:59 <laugh>.
Nikita Shetty 00:42:00 I I actually answered the question as me liking a small, like wanting to live in a small, you wanna
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:06 Live in a medium-sized city, but, okay.
Nikita Shetty 00:42:08 I, I, I would agree with, uh, providing support to both actually.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:13 <laugh> Nikita's. Like, we're gonna change the name of this project. <laugh>. It's gonna be just <inaudible> now. Medium <laugh>. Um, good. Okay. The, I just wanna ask about the lighting or smart waste management.
Nikita Shetty 00:42:28 That was tricky to choose actually. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but I thought waste is a topic that's ignored in many cases. So, you know, there's a lot of focus on energy and mobility, but I think there's so much you can do around, um, management of waste, also kind of circular economy and related topics too. Yeah. So that's why I thought I would like to highlight that one.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:42:47 <laugh>. I agree. I, I had a great, great podcast episode around the circular economy, um, a little while back and it's still one of my favorite episodes. It was just really enlightening to me. So yeah. Anybody wanna argue for the public lighting there? Grammy said you had a project and that's why you picked that one <laugh>.
Graham Colclough 00:43:04 Yeah, so 10 years ago, um, we set up a project called the Humble Lamppost, and we called it the humble Lamppost. 'cause everybody's talking about intelligent lighting and smart lighting and all this sort of things and talking lampposts. And I said, now that's the humble lamppost every, you know, dogs do things on it that they perhaps shouldn't. And, and people complain because the lights go out. And the intention was to launch a project across a number of cities so that they could get, um, uh, economies of scale. Cities currently buy, uh, lighting and smart lighting in incredibly small volumes. And if you, um, increase the volumes, get big, big discounts. So the thinking was it was gonna be a quick win that was back in 2014, and we still haven't managed to tackle this. And it really puts the point about how do you get cities to work together around things under stress and strain. The idea was to do something on a dead simple piece of infrastructure, which can be really multi-purpose, to do lots and lots of different things and quickly move to something else which is harder, like waste or mobility. We still struggle with the simplest of things and that there's a lot of learning in behind that, a lot of learning. So I don't know. I mean, that, that again, reinforces the complexity of change.
Nikita Shetty 00:44:18 Good.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:44:19 Um, any other justifications need to be made? <laugh> otherwise? Okay. Good. <laugh>, otherwise we move on to the last and final question. It's a question we ask every single guest that comes onto this show, and it is to you, what is a smart city? Rebecca, would you like to go first?
Rebecca Walsh 00:44:41 Sure. Um, a smart city to me. Um, so I guess I think about data and technology, um, uh, efficiency in enhancing the lives of, you know, the city inhabitants. Um, uh, I more so than maybe that, I guess maybe the fundamental idea to me would be to, um, create smart solutions, um, that are going to offset and help that, the effect that urbanization has on climate change. Yeah,
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:45:17 Absolutely. So it's more leaning in the climate direction for you. Yeah,
Rebecca Walsh 00:45:20 Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, like I do, I think about, you know, um, reducing traffic congestion and I think about, you know, reducing energy usage. But I think, you know, overall yeah, it's, it's towards climate. Yeah. And
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:45:35 Absolutely. Absolutely. So going off of that, what, what do you say, Nikita? How would you add on to that definition? Um, you, you've also answered this question before, right? Yes. On this, I have <laugh>,
Nikita Shetty 00:45:46 So I'm gonna keep it brief today. I think I would add on to what Rebecca has mentioned. So agree with everything, uh, Rebecca mentioned, um, maybe something that, um, I have realized is an important element in the past years is the co-creation and working with citizens elements. So doing all of the technology driven, data driven staff to achieve goals, uh, but working with the citizens to the, uh, in the journey and bringing them along. So that's, um, something that I think would be important.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:46:14 Yeah, good addition. And Graham, do you have more additions or changes?
Graham Colclough 00:46:19 So, uh, it's terrible. After 10 years and more, we're still trying to figure out what we mean by those two words,
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:46:25 <laugh>.
Graham Colclough 00:46:26 Um, yeah, we haven't even figured out how to define a city to be quite frank. Um, so, so a, a, a few quick answers to that. The first is it's a journey, it's not a destination. The second is that the simple answer from we would be a, a betterment, um, just betterment. Um, the, the, the slightly more sophisticated answer is, um, and I, I kind of gifted with the, the, the fund of defining smart city for iso the standards organization 10 years ago. Um, and so got involved in actually understanding that we looked at an awful lot of definitions, and they all seem to start with, it's about technology doing something. So the ISO definition, which is slightly longer, and I won't read it out for you, um, starts in a different way. And it talks about radical change. It talks about, uh, people working together, working across silos and such. And eventually it gets down to data and technology. And there's something about the order, which I think is really important. Um, but it is a shame that we're still arguing about it. I wish
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:47:29 And makes it <laugh>. Yeah. Get on with it. Those are good final words, I think. Um, so with that, I have to thank all of you, uh, from the bottom of my heart for, for coming onto the show, for saying all your great opinions and insights and all of that. So yeah, thank you to all of you for coming on. Thank you. It's a pleasure. Thank you so much. Thank you. My pleasure. And to all of our listeners, uh, thank you so much for listening. And don't forget, you can always create a free account on bable-smartcities.eu to find out more about smart city projects, solutions, and implementations. And remember to check out the SMCNetZero website that we're linking in the show notes. So thank you all for listening. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.