#64 Alexander Schmidt: Navigating Procurement in Smart Urban Innovation

Episode 70 February 21, 2024 00:38:22
#64 Alexander Schmidt: Navigating Procurement in Smart Urban Innovation
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#64 Alexander Schmidt: Navigating Procurement in Smart Urban Innovation

Feb 21 2024 | 00:38:22

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Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

This episode features an interview with Alexander Schmidt, CEO and founder of BABLE Smart Cities, and a discussion which centres on the challenges and innovations within Smart City procurement processes.

It highlights the need for agile procurement processes to match technological advances, the role of AI in improving city services, and the importance of strategic funding for innovative urban solutions.

 

Urban Innovators Global and BABLE Smart Cities are proud to announce the launch of the Urban Innovation Leadership Programme – an academic programme that is tailored and totally customizable for your organization. If this sparks your interest, you can reach out directly to us at [email protected] for more information.

 

Overview of the episode:

[00:01:34] Teaser Question: 3 emojis to describe the Smart City market

[00:02:45] ​Alex's Background

[00:04:16] What is the biggest challenge that we are facing when it comes to procurement?

[00:07:07] The procurement of innovative urban solutions can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking up to 22 months. What factors contribute to this duration?

[00:09:36] It's noted that about 80% of urban innovative projects do not generate a lasting impact. In your opinion, what are the main reasons behind this high failure rate?

[00:18:08] What advice would our guest give to municipalities that are hesitant to adopt new technologies due to the complexities of the procurement process?

[00:19:52] What emerging technologies will have the most significant impact on urban innovation in the next decade?

[00:26:30] What are the different funding and financial models available for cities looking to procure innovative solutions?

[00:32:17] Shoutout: Our guest mentions a person, an organization or a city you think deserves more recognition in the field

[00:36:11] Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?

 

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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: 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 you will enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate 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 platform at BABLE Smartcities EU so today I have with me someone you may have heard before on the podcast, but it's been a little while, so only if you're one of the OG listeners and always someone I like to have a chat with quite often on the regular about everything to do with cities especially. So I actually can't really believe that I haven't had him one on one yet on the podcast, so this will be a first. But yeah, here we are. So we are digging into a specific challenge in this episode that we see at BABLE cities trying to tackle all of the time. So we want to give a lot more context to that and a lot more expertise with what we're seeing. But before we dig in, let me first introduce our great guest. So here with me chatting is Alex Schmidt. He's the CEO and founder of BABLE Smart Cities. Welcome, Alex. [00:01:32] Alexander Schmidt: Pleasure being back. [00:01:34] Tamlyn Shimizu: Pleasure having you. So I always like to start with a little teaser. And so the teaser I've chosen for you today is. Drumroll. If you had to describe the smart city market in three emojis, which emojis would you choose? [00:01:52] Alexander Schmidt: I'm not a big emoji person. [00:01:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: I beg to differ. [00:01:57] Alexander Schmidt: Let's see, while you're creating your own emojis. Now, the light bulb, likely lots of ideas that are out there. So I like this one, the exploding hat. Sometimes it's just overwhelming. [00:02:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Too much information, too much going on. [00:02:16] Alexander Schmidt: And also just sometimes a little complicated and annoying. It just bursts your mind. Well, in this upwards looking graph, right? So it's certainly something that's coming. We've seen amazing progress post Covid, lots of energy, right? So remember back six, seven years, the budgets were like one or two zeros less, and it's just a market that's coming and enjoy every day working in it. [00:02:45] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very good choices. Very good choices. Okay, so I always like to give our listeners a little bit of intel into who the person is that's actually behind the mic. So tell us, who are you, Alex? Where did you come from and how did you get here today? [00:03:02] Alexander Schmidt: Okay, well, let's start at the very beginning. [00:03:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Born exactly. [00:03:08] Alexander Schmidt: A village boy. A village boy from Bavaria, southeastern Germany. Well, grandchild to a farmer, child to a craftsman. Always liked kind of this combination of generating economic growth and making the world a better place. Studied environmental engineering, transport engineering and business administration. Those are my three degrees. Always trying again to combine economics and the environment for a better future. Then worked at the front of a research society for seven years, I think. Had a brief stint at the MIT Sensible Cities lab to work on data analytics to understand cities better. Then I worked for two years as a director for a european institution that I helped found in Barcelona. And now for six and a half years working solely with BABLE as the founder with a great bunch of people to get all these cool solutions that are out there scaled in cities across Europe. [00:04:16] Tamlyn Shimizu: Sounds good. So, working, living and breathing. BABLE. Now, I know that there's a lot going on with the topic that I want to dive in today. So the topic that I chose for today is around procurement. And I hope that everyone didn't just turn off the podcast now that I said procurement, because we're going to try to liven it up and make it more. So, what do you think, Alex, is the biggest challenge that we are facing when it comes to procurement? [00:04:49] Alexander Schmidt: Well, it's always hard to see one, but there's definitely kind of a distinction between internal and external problems. So I think the main issue is it all takes too long and often the outcome is not good enough. Right. So the idea behind it is very good. So procurement in general is supposed to create a level playing field so that cities in the end get the best solution. Or not just cities, actually, any operator of critical infrastructure, often also used by private sector, this tool. So it's really about finding the best solution on a couple of merits to actually buy and implement. So what are the problems internally? Very often it's about who is the final decision maker. Right. So it's very complicated to, in many instances, if you buy, especially something innovative, who actually chooses in the end, who is the final one to make the call, which ones are being bought or what. Also the specifications of such a solution should be. So there's a lot of internal kind of back and forth between the political leadership, the administrative leadership, the procurement officers, then also the different types of interests, those that want to run the projects, those that look long term, short term. So that makes it a lot more complicated than it looks from the outside. And then there are the external factors. Right. So there is different levels of government. If you're a city, you likely have a regional, a national and the EU government or some other form of government above you. And the guidelines that you get don't always like one on one match your problem. So it's always hard a little, there's always a little bit of uncertainty to choose which pathway to go for what is right, what is wrong. It's not a black and white kind of application area. It really has quite some shades of gray, even if you do it properly. Right. And then it's only when you touch the actual thing that you want to procure. Right. So there is a lots of very unique, innovative and great solutions out there. Either you don't know about them or you don't understand them in all details. So all these create complexities, create problems then, which make the procurement processes longer and often don't generate then the desired outcomes. [00:07:07] Tamlyn Shimizu: Absolutely. And I want to get into this a little bit more. I know we found some research that shows that the procurement of innovative urban solutions can take up to or around an average of 22 months. What factors do you think contribute most to this long duration? You talked already about the central challenges, but what else can you elaborate on there? [00:07:33] Alexander Schmidt: First of all, it's amazing, right? 22 months to procure something. So that means until you have signed the contract, that doesn't yet mean it's. [00:07:41] Tamlyn Shimizu: Implemented and the innovation has already changed. [00:07:43] Alexander Schmidt: Right? Innovations are inherently fast, and that's a really interesting element. Right? So these processes were set up when public entities mostly procured long term things with a long innovation lifecycle, roads, buildings, these things that have like 50 years of duration. So once they're out there, okay, now if we try to buy something that has an innovative hardware solution, it has a technology lifecycle of two years. Software has, you get an update every couple of weeks or at least every six months. Right? So these processes just are not fit for purpose, or these length of the processes are not fit for purpose for these kind of more innovative solutions where there is a high pace. So I think that from all the other things that we have mentioned, that's the one thing to add is just the world has become faster, right? So you cannot write down the specs at one day and then 22 months later assign a contract with the exact same specs. It just doesn't work. The world has changed a lot. I think that's the core problem that's in this process is the speed that it's needed to actually keep pace with the innovations out there. And those innovations are great. So don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone to get this in the wrong way. This is actually what we need. We actually need to speed up a lot more. We only have until 2050 to get our whole continent climate neutral, some cities only until 2030, which is six years. So you cannot take two years to procure something, not even having started implementation yet. So it's all the right things. And that process, there are some improvements to it that the commission has brought along a long way. Now they just need to be applied. And I think there's a lot of good ways forward. So I want to keep this all at a very positive end, even though, as you said, I hope the listeners are still there because procurement in itself is not a very hot topic. [00:09:36] Tamlyn Shimizu: But it's so important to talk about, and we need to be talking about it more because it goes cross dimensional. It's really something that all departments of all cities have to deal with. Right. Almost. So I know we wanted to keep it on a positive note, but my next question is actually that quite negative in the sense that we have found that 80% of urban innovation projects do not generate a lasting impact. That's a big number. That's crazy. You can think about all the time and all the energy and all the money that is going down there. And I'm sorry, as I said, it's very negative. But how do we get out of this? How do we turn that 80% into 20%, for example? What is a shift that is needed? [00:10:31] Alexander Schmidt: First of all, let the number sink in, really. Right. So there are cities out there in Europe that are now investing a billion euro a year into innovative urban solution to get them climate neutral. Now imagine 800 million of that, and that's taxpayers money. Right. Going to waste. That would be. That gives us all a little bit of a shiver there. So that's a huge problem. In its core, I think it's an information problem. Right? So in its core, if the right information are available at the right time and the right quality to the right people, you can speed up the process immensely. I think that's what will get us from 80% to 20%. And then there's still a lot more to be done. Has to do with decision making within cities, have to do with staying kind of neutral to technology, because especially during COVID we did some analysis that those tenders that were sent out in that time, about half of them needed to be pulled back before they were even awarded because there was some form of proprietary knowledge or proprietary technology in the tender. So that means only one entity in the end could reply to it. And no one did that on purpose or made this kind of. No one wanted these time, these processes go to waste. But again, with just not the knowledge with the procurement office that this was a proprietary piece of technology that they were trying to procure, going back to what it is in its core, it's an information gap. So as long as we kind of keep everyone that's making these decisions informed on what are good solutions, what are bad solutions, what is out there, what has already happened. Right. So many great things are already out there in cities that you can learn from. And on the second part, also kind of keeping it technology neutral. As a city, you're not interested in a particular supplier or in a particular technology, you're interested in the impact it has. And as long as you keep the kind of procurement on, this is what we are trying to achieve. Instead of we want it to be aluminium based and coated in that kind of color, it's a lot more likely that you, in the end, get the outcome. So if you procure outcome, you get outcome. [00:12:57] Tamlyn Shimizu: Can you think of an example of a project maybe that has had lasting impact or vice versa? What we were talking about before, that really was super speedy, maybe as an example and how that was accomplished. [00:13:11] Alexander Schmidt: Well, also, what is super speedy before 22 months? Actually, one of my favorite examples is a city in southern Germany, close to Karlsruhe called Ettlingen, where we went through the whole process of defining what solves the need within the city, which was figuring out a new way of getting parcels to private homes, to actually having the electric cargo bikes and everything implemented within twelve months. And that project, when it started, didn't even have financing. So that is one of my favorite examples when it comes to speed. Also, there is just, especially in the innovative world, there is just sometimes not a local supplier. The one I just mentioned, in the end, there was a local supplier that could help implement this, actually a combination of two local suppliers. Sometimes we had another city. I'm just staying close by there, a little south in the Barden area, city of about 15,000 inhabitants, looking for an autonomous vehicle to drive through the inner city. Twenty four seven, and kind of close a circular gap between the bus services. The entity that was responsible for this was for six months looking for someone to actually provide this service locally, regionally. And they had a supplier which cost several hundred thousand euro, whereas as soon as we started looking across borders. We found entities that have done this before and could deliver the service in like 25% of the costs, right. And that then also they can deliver it much faster. So sometimes it's just you have to look at entities that have proven that an innovation works also outside the regions in Europe there is actually a lot happening that everyone can learn from. [00:15:07] Tamlyn Shimizu: But don't cities, to play devil's advocate a little bit, don't cities want to procure locally, for example, like to foster this within their regions? What do you say to that? [00:15:19] Alexander Schmidt: I think there should always be a locality factor in it, and that's just my private opinion, because it has benefits of having a particular supply and strengthening the local economy like this also, particularly helping young companies, startups with your procurement processes. It's a super strong tool also for economic growth. But there's always a limit to this, right? So I can always understand like 1020, 30% of kind of locality benefit. But in this particular example that I just mentioned, we were talking about a factor of six, right? And even if that one wasn't chosen, but the other one was chosen, that wasn't one, that was. [00:15:59] Tamlyn Shimizu: It wouldn't make sense then, right? [00:16:01] Alexander Schmidt: So there's just a limit to that. And in the end we all have to stay fair in this because it's about finding the best solution. The best solution doesn't always have to be one locally that provides benefit. That should be part of the assessment. I agree with that, but there's limits to that. And especially in the times where we now have tighter budgets with all our public spending, it's just a necessity to spend the taxpayers money efficient. [00:16:33] Tamlyn Shimizu: Why do you think then that cities can't do this internally very efficiently? What are they lacking? Do they not have the time? Do they not have the expertise? Do they not have the data? Do they not have the knowledge? What are they lacking to do this internally? [00:16:52] Alexander Schmidt: Well, the thing that they keep telling us when we ask we do the services is a lack of personnel, there's a lack of capacity and there's a lack of knowledge, right? And that's not true in all levels for everyone. So let's not think there are cities that are handling all of these things very well themselves. But I think there's a particular submarket that we are talking about in our world always. That's the one of innovative solutions, right? So I think every procurement department in every city is good at doing the things that they have done several times before. But now if you're looking at doing a completely new delivery system for your inner city or you're doing an autonomous vehicle or a new data platform, which is something that you don't have experience with and none of your staff has, because there are maybe a couple of hundred people in Europe in total that have experience in these kinds of areas, then that's just where it makes sense to get someone to support you or to kind of inform yourself on the corresponding resources that are available for you, that you do not kind of repeat the mistakes that the other cities that have implemented something like this have already done. [00:18:08] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. So for our listeners, there's a lot of cities out there that are listening right now. What key advice would you give to them who are kind of maybe hesitant to go into this field of all these new technologies are a little bit too scary for us, or due to the complexities that we were just speaking about of the procurement process, they think it's easier just to stick with the old maybe. [00:18:41] Alexander Schmidt: First thing I think is don't be afraid. Right. So that's a call I think always go positively in all of these things. The procurement kind of law and everything around this was built in order to make sure that there is no kind of, no one takes advantage of it. So if you, as a weber entity that procures, utility, company, city, whatever your target is to get the best solution, you are on the right way. Right. And then there is always a form of procurement which will provide you with the right result. And that depends on where the technology or where the kind of solution stands. There are versions now available since 2016 across Europe where you don't even have to know what is the actual product of the actual solution that you want to procure. You rather say, okay, this is the problem. I want to solve it together with the market, and then you develop it together with the market. There is a lot of technical terms around this, but there is a lot more available than just writing a piece of text with a technical description and saying, this is the budget and these are my criteria. And now, please, dear market, give me some results on this. So there's a lot more options available. And if you're honestly looking for the best option, then you'll find it. [00:19:52] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, very good words there. So I also want to look ahead a bit on the trends that we see happening. What trends do you see in the innovation market for smart cities? And which of these emerging technologies that we see on a daily basis do you think will have the most significant impact in the next decade? [00:20:15] Alexander Schmidt: Well, that's a big question. [00:20:16] Tamlyn Shimizu: Big questions predict the future now for us now we will record in a few years and we'll see how badly you predicted. No pressure. [00:20:27] Alexander Schmidt: You're supposed to be wrong. These kinds of questions. I think there are some trends that we see when it comes to the type of solutions and the area that they solve. But let me rather start with something that is becoming more and more common, especially in our world, of innovative solutions for the public sector. And that's there is a combination of different types of fund. So the municipality puts normally from their own budget, some money, and then their own procurement rules and their own rules and their own kind of processes are the ones to be applied. Now, you see it a lot more often that the regional government or the national government ships. In all the EU, there is this huge 1 trillion budget now available for also with regards to the targets of the Green deal, where there's a lot of structural funds, horizon funds available to actually progress and then procure the right solutions and test them in your market. And they then have their own rules because they come from where the money comes. Right. And then mixing up these kinds of processes is often a very complicated process. So that's something where a lots of fear comes in. There's lots of examples out there where this has gone very well, and lots of examples where in the end, the money didn't flow to the city. So there is experience out there for all of these kinds of things now, get the help in this, and that's certainly something that will help us, because paying all of this innovation that we need out, the municipal budgets, is absolutely impossible. Now, when it comes to technologies, I'm not going to jump into is hydrogen or electricity more likely, where's the electricity coming from? But maybe to drill this down a little bit is where, in what areas do we see the biggest activity yet? So it's historically, over the last six years, that we've been collecting these data, mobility has always been one of the main activity areas, and it was about electrifying fleets, the municipal fleets, or the special vehicles as well. But buses are a big investment areas, the charging stations around this, and then, of course, you have investments into infrastructure around this. This has historically been like 40%, 35% to 40% of the activities in that area. Now, since the Ukraine war, since the invasion, especially in central and eastern Europe, we have seen a big kind of shift of money spending. Also, when it comes to energy efficiency, local production of electricity, change in heating systems, these kinds of things have gone up. They've always been number two, but they are getting closer to the activities that we see in the mobility world. And those are massive investments. Right. So there are those investments being done by the municipality or by the public utilities themselves, into their own infrastructure, schools, libraries, the office buildings that they own, social housing, and these kinds of things. But there are also elements that a municipality can also only support. Right? Office buildings, private properties, these kinds of things. And we have seen investment plans of the leading cities in Europe that are planning to be climate neutral until 2030, which are up to 70% of the overall investment that they have to do goes into kind of heating and electricity when it comes to refurbishment of houses. [00:24:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, really interesting trends we see in energy, for sure. What do you see as the future of digital side of things? I just want to touch on that, because everyone's talking about AI, everyone's talking about this digitalization. There's a system shift in how we're thinking. There's a lot of things going on. So can you put that in just a couple of sentences maybe, on how. [00:24:44] Alexander Schmidt: You see that keeping up with the big questions? Yeah, I think on the one hand, AI, or the capabilities it provides us, is just another capability that we are adding. We are not applying technology just for the sense of finding application areas, but in the end, it helps us to improve our services in cities. It helps us to do more with less resources. Right. And that's, I think, the core that artificial intelligence can give us. We can just optimize, resource wise, how we deliver on services. And if it's done right, it can also kind of be a democratic tool to, if it's done right, a democratic tool to kind of make processes more efficient and to improve the outcomes of everything. So AI is such a kind of transformative topic that it will influence so many different fields of progress, right. So it can influence the amount of staff we need for particular services. We can free up capacities for other areas. It can significantly reduce the amount of money and time we have to spend somewhere. But it can also improve particular parts of services. It can make the arrival of buses more predictable, it can optimize our heating systems more efficiently. So there's a kind of a transversal effect that it can have in all the different kind of sectors. And it's going to be very interesting to see for all of us how this pans out. But the cool thing really is that we see a good bunch of areas of proven application areas in cities in Europe already. [00:26:30] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, really interesting times that we're seeing here in that field. I wanted to touch just quickly on also, because we're talking about procurement. But before procurement happens, the money has to come from somewhere. And maybe you can touch on a bit of the different funding and financial models available for cities looking to procure innovative solutions. [00:26:55] Alexander Schmidt: Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, I think the core of this is there is money available, right? It's not going to fly to you, you have to go and pick it up. But I think one of the core vehicles is the 1 trillion EU budget that doesn't stay in Brussels. It's divided into a thousand different regions in Europe. There is money available for structural investments, anything that has to do with infrastructure. There is money available for test cases to try something. There's money available for cross country or cross regional collaboration, and then we will never cover the whole thing. Right. So it's always kind of a co funding and putting in the mix the own municipal funds. Right. The investment budgets of municipalities need to be safe, they need to be protected because they are necessary for the future, for the next generation. So only cutting there will bring us lots of problems in the near and especially in the mid and long term future. So this kind of investment in the future, also from the strained city budgets, need to be protected. But the combination with external funds, EU, the ones I just named, but similar fundings are available mostly across Europe on the national and regional level. And then there are some very particular funds. So I think the European Investment bank is doing an amazing job in providing kind of funding for also bigger projects where you can get several million in kind of appraisal funding. So to plan your projects and then even much larger amounts in loans for feasible projects. In the end, if you consider grants, grants are always a good thing because you don't have to pay them back if you do everything correctly or loans or other kind of debt vehicles. The main thing is that the investment needs to be a viable one. So I have a business case, it's something super interesting to talk about business cases in the public sector. I think there was something 1415 years ago when we started that discussion about business cases of urban solutions, we were all like, okay, why? This is supposed to be just provide public benefits, right? But this is the cool thing about a lot of these solutions that we are talking about. They provide both, they provide a positive environmental, social, economic outcome and they can be business wise viable, maybe with a twist, with some grant funding and some loan funding. But in the end, there's lots of options out there. I think we started, when was it, four years ago? We said, we're going to look out into Europe and see how much grants there are available. How many different ones? I was personally thinking there might be like 2000 or so different ones. Our crawler is still active and there are still a couple of them found. But we are now with over 10,000 active grant funding options available. And those are from all different areas. Partly they're on the city level, from city taxes, partly they're on the regional level. Of course, there's lots happening on the national and the EU level, but we haven't seen a single entity that approached us and said, hey, we need cofunding for this kind of project and can you find us something? And we had to say no, there was always a fund available that supports. And that's going back to my first sentence in this. Again, stay positive in this thing because there is enough available. [00:30:21] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. The last part that I want to bring us to in the main interview part is our open floor, and that is the chance. Is there something that you didn't get the chance to talk about today that you think everyone needs to know about this today? You don't have to take it, but you can. [00:30:44] Alexander Schmidt: While we were talking about it, I had some kind of flashbacks into procurement processes that I've done over the last. [00:30:51] Tamlyn Shimizu: Fun times, I'm sure. [00:30:52] Alexander Schmidt: Oh, well, I hit my nose very hard many times. You think that a lot of the processes are. There are different processes, there's a lot of difference. But I've handled a fund for the german government to roll out infrastructure. So charting infrastructure across Germany, seven digits, investments. Then we had these kind of trial projects that we did in many cities across Europe. I was directly involved in ten cities over two years, and now we are supporting a lot of regions and cities and utilities individually and these kinds of things, the kind of learnings that there's always a problem, right. So it never comes in and it just goes smoothly through without you having to adopt your mindset or adopt your process. But in the end it always works out. And quite honestly, I'm very proud of the things that I can see walking down the road or driving my car to a charging station, that these are possible because these processes in the end were gone through, right. And not part of the 80% that in the end don't provide a lasting impact. So again, that's, I think, the core of everything, with a positive mindset, with kind of the attitude to go through this because you are looking for the best solution with the money that you have available. [00:32:17] Tamlyn Shimizu: There's always a way, so be open and be positive. Okay, good words on that. I'm also going into our segment, which is also very positive shout out. Mention a person, an organization or a city you think deserves more recognition in the field. I wanted to give you this segment of shout out because I know BABLE is working with so many interesting entities and cities and people organizations, everything. Now is your chance to shout out a person, organization, city, whoever of these entities you think deserves more recognition in the field. I know it's hard to choose just one. You can choose two if you'd like. [00:33:06] Alexander Schmidt: Okay, well, then let me choose. Is it okay to choose three? [00:33:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay, I allow it. [00:33:16] Alexander Schmidt: So one shout out I want to give is to the region Schwarm eda West. That's a german area where they have done independent of procurement, like over 20 years ago. They have decided to kind of pool the resources of five small municipalities, smallish municipalities. Altogether there are 30,000 inhabitants. Right. [00:33:37] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very small. [00:33:39] Alexander Schmidt: In other words, to kind of do things that they cannot resource individually, together, which is, for me, we have seen this in Southern Ireland, are being done very efficiently as well. We are seeing it in northern Portugal. And I could have shouted out to any of those two as well. But these are things. It's like the swarm effect, kind of putting resources or grouping resources where you cannot do it individually. That's just a very strong kind of a way forward for those of us that think we are too small by ourselves. Then one of the very curious, I think that's my speed. Now. Almost ten years ago, when the city of Munich was procuring their smart lighting system, they didn't get good quotes for this very particular type of lighting that they wanted was ancient lighting. They were very good and they looked very nice, and they really wanted to keep that kind of design. And in the end, they didn't find someone to do it at a good price point, so they just decided to do it themselves and built on it from there. They chose the suppliers for the things that they didn't want to do themselves, but they also just said, okay, let's get this done ourselves, which I found just an amazing statement in those regards. And then maybe one more person that I want to shout out to, and that's maybe a person that has kind of had an impact on the way I do business a lot. That's the former mayor of the city of Eintofen in the Netherlands, Rob von Kaisel, who, when he started his work, and generally throughout the work, he allowed mistakes to be done. Right. So that was a thing that he was very loud talking about. Right. He said, okay, we will do innovative things, and there will be things that we will fail. And there was this clear thing we can fail about this, not everything. And that's what happened, right? A lot, quite some things didn't work out, and that's of course a shame. But I have seen so many good things being coming out, maybe not even just for the municipality, but for the region, but also just very smart people that have gone their own way than doing business now in any part of the world, just learning from these kinds of things. And I think generally that has moved the innovation landscape in urban areas significantly forward. [00:36:11] Tamlyn Shimizu: Really good ones to shout out for sure. Now we get to the final question. You know what it is right, to you, what is a smart city? [00:36:24] Alexander Schmidt: Well, to me, what is a smart city? I think it's progress in general. Right? So we want to make it more livable. In the end, it's about helping, making a better life for the generation to come. And now the tool that we have available that we didn't have available 50 years ago is technology to some extent. So doing it the right way, not because it's the only solution that we have, but because it's one of those that can provide the biggest impact. And if we do it right, my daughter and my other future children will have a much better kind of quality of life living in our amazing european cities. [00:37:02] Tamlyn Shimizu: Great words to end on. So with that, I have to thank you for coming onto the podcast. It's been a pleasure to talk to you about procurement. I never thought I'd say those words. No, just kidding. But it was a pleasure to hear all your insights. Also really interesting projects, of course. So thanks so much for coming on. Taking this time. It's a Friday after 05:00 p.m., also, so thank you so much for that. And thanks to all of our listeners. Don't forget, you can always create a free account on BABLE smartcities EU. Find out more about smart city projects, solutions and implementations. Thank you very much. [00:37:34] Alexander Schmidt: Thanks Tamlyn. [00:37:36] Tamlyn Shimizu: Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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