Smart Cities Management - 2018 Edition: What the participants thought about it

For the second consecutive year, SCI organised its Continuing Education in Smart City Management in partnership with HEC Executive School. After 10 modules of theoretical and practical contributions by various experts, this second edition finally ended with 3 days of ideation, led by ID Campus, giving the participants the opportunity to exchange and work on concrete issues experienced in their respective territories. 

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Interviews: We gave the floor to the participants

There were 24 participants, coming from different sectors. As actors of change on their territory, we wanted to give the floor to a few participants: How is this training interesting for their respective organisations, and what can they get out of it?

#1
The opinion of Jean-Pierre Tréségnies GAL Meuse@Campagnes - Project Manager, promoting citizenship through digital technology
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme?

The GAL is truly committed to digital technology as a transversal axis of development. Its mission is to use digital technology to position rural areas in the Smart City dynamic. In my work, I help my colleagues to implement this digital aspect in their missions, but also to promote citizen participation through digital technology.

Given this aspect, it seemed obvious to me to come and take part in the training. The Board of Directors has moreover accepted my request for participation in a very positive way.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that your organisation can derive from this training?

I see two benefits: Firstly, to clarify the concept of Smart City and to understand how it can also be applied to a rural area. There is an idea here of simplifying the concept. The second is to consolidate a solid background: tools, references, contacts.

All these assets will provide me with a basis for better convincing and getting rural actors to adhere to the Smart City concept. In general, it's a notion that seems more remote to them, because the term alone doesn't really speak for itself: you feel a bit out of place when you say that it only concerns cities, but no, it's a notion that can be adapted to the rural environment, using other terms for example: smart territory, smart rurality... Everything that has been developed during the training can be validly used on my territory, within the framework of the missions that I carry out.

When you talk about convincing others, are you talking about your colleagues or citizens?

I mostly talk about citizens. A part of the local authorities is already involved in a Smart approach, but I am addressing all the actors in the field (citizens, associations and local authorities, ...) in order to convey the following message: "We are already following a rural/sustainable development approach in our territory, there is only a small step to be made to enter a Smart approach, notably thanks to technology, which can come in to support us.

In your opinion, how can this training be useful to you in a concrete way in the context of your work?

The 3 days of ideation allowed me to acquire a certain methodology that will help me to bring projects to the table, because what is important for us is what emerges from the "bottom". In the project I'm working on, there is this feeling of "top-down" because we apply a scheme that has been "established". But you still have to look for creativity and knowledge on the ground!

Then all the clarification of the concept during the training will allow me to be even more pedagogical when I am led to explain the concept - A sort of Smart City ambassador in brief? - That's it!

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register? Any advice?

You have to go for it, let yourself be carried away, you discover things by letting yourself be carried away, you have to go beyond your fears, whether they are theoretical or practical, if you get into a learning process, you always come out with positive elements for your job!

#2
The opinion of Amélie Debroux City of Hannut - General Director
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme ?

Today, we hear a lot about Smart Cities, but what do we put behind this concept? That was a question I was asking myself. I received a survey on the subject that made me think about it because I felt a bit lost regarding the subject.

It awakenedmy curiosity and I said to myself: a training course exists, I feel that one day the local council will want us to set up Smart City projects within the municipality, so I wanted to anticipate. How do you become a Smart City and what are the tools you can use on a daily basis, what do I have to do for that?

The city of Hannut was notably a pilot municipality for the cross-cutting strategy programme (PST), which will be compulsory from the next legislature. We know that we have this deadline to meet, it's a whole methodology to be put in place, with a long and medium-term vision, a reflection on budgets, the involvement of agents, etc. We have to be able to use it on a daily basis. While I thought that the Smart City was just limited to the technological aspect, I realised that the training and this cross-cutting strategy programme were intimately intertwined: thanks to this programme, we are already becoming a bit of a Smart City. So there was a real interest for the municipality to follow the training, in the continuity of this strategy to be implemented.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that your organisation can derive from this training?

For me, the advantage of this training is to say to myself: it's no longer necessary to work in a compartmentalised way.

When you want to set up a project, you have to identify the final user and what his or her needs are, by mobilising and taking into account all the resources and factors that make up the territory: technology, citizen participation, taking the environment into account, taking budgets into account, etc. The training teaches us to take a "macro" view of the way we manage a project, to think up global solutions that can satisfy all the players and to decompartmentalise as much as possible.

Do you already have an idea of how to implement your knowledge in your daily work ?

What is really interesting about the Smart City approach is that, at a given moment, you can approach the problem in a different way. During the training, we spent 3 days discussing a problem. Our starting position evolved progressively, we identify points of attention and we put it into perspective, notably through consultation. Without this, there is a big risk that what we develop will end up being unsatisfactory and become obsolete very quickly.

The advantage that I have also identified in a Smart City approach is the sustainability of the original projects. Taking into account all the dimensions of the territory may require more time at the beginning, but in the end, you end up with something that will be more sustainable over time.

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register? Any advice?

In terms of investment, we can say "Waw 8 days! I'm never going to be able to fit this into my planning...". But the big advantage is that you can take a step back from your job, you meet people, you build a very interesting network with a real added value.

At the end, the investment of these 8 days is really worth it, I'm really happy because I come out with a nice address book, I met great people, and on top of that I have a methodology to apply within my administration, which will save me time afterwards.

#3
The opinion of Antoine Gruselin SPI - Territorial animation manager & Economic animation manager Val Benoit
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme ?

The information came to me through my direct manager, who encouraged me to participate. I myself am working on the issue of smart cities, because at the SPI we want to redevelop and enhance the value of former industrial wastelands. No longer turning them into zoning, but into places connected to real life, in phase with the sustainable city of tomorrow. This means that it no longer only integrates companies, but a whole ecosystem.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that the SPI can derive from this training ?

One of the first benefits I see is to make yourself known, to integrate into an ecosystem made up of various urban actors. It is a real networking tool.

Then, to be able to work on all the concepts covered during the training and put them into practice. The Smart City is a very young subject, so everything has to be invented.

Finally, even if I already had a certain amount of knowledge thanks to the missions and trips I have already done, the training allowed me to better structure and complete my knowledge on the subject.

In your opinion, how can this training be useful to you in a concrete way in the context of your work?

For my part, it's still a little early to say, but the contacts I've been able to make are already very important, it's concrete.

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register? Any advice?

You have to force yourself stop and tell yourself that it will be 8 days during which you will be disconnected. You will fall behind in your work, you will be contacted by colleagues because you are not at the office etc. but you have to do that. In today's professional life, it is very rare to have the excuse to to do this.

We are practically all unanimous on this with the other participants: It was very difficult not to read one's e-mails and not pay attention to them, but in the end it's a terrible breath of fresh air. And then there is the question of the Smart City, we can say: it's important!

#4
The opinion of Queenie Halsberghe CERDECAM (ECAM's Research and Development Centre) - Research team manager
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme ?

At ECAM, we want to be able to situate the industrial engineer in the city and in his societal role, that's why we naturally became interested in Smart Cities. I am in charge of implementing this theme for the Centre, so I researched the training courses related to the theme. According to feedback from former participants, this training course was reputable, which confirmed my idea to participate in it.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that your organisation can derive from this training ?

The holistic approach of the Smart City proposed during the training is really interesting for us. As we are an industrial engineering school, it is important to first of all tell ourselves that we are not making technology for technology's sake, it is just a means. We have to acquire another positioning (both teachers and students). The holistic approach will also make it possible to get out of the silo of departments since we have 6 fields at ECAM (automation, construction, electromechanics, electronics, surveying and IT), to put links between them and to have a more transversal approach. It's really a question of posture that is changing.

Did you already have preliminary knowledge on the subject ?

Yes, I have built up a specific library on Smart Cities, so I already knew the subject. However, I wanted to be able to open up the fields, approach the notion of management and also meet other people who are interested in the issue: municipalities, public services or the private sector.

This idea of networking and sharing concrete experiences is essential, because as industrial engineers, it is important that we can anchor this type of approach in reality and that we don't just come up with theories. It wouldn't be of much use in our curriculum.

In your opinion, how can this training be of practical use to you in your daily work ?

After a first pedagogical day on the subject at ECAM, we are going to organise an information session dedicated to students, with various speakers: people from the course, or people who have been referred to us. The objective thereafter is to put forward a competition within the student community: on the basis of the problems that will be proposed to them, the students will have to develop concrete solutions. The idea here is to reorient a series of technical laboratories by giving them objectives, a much more pragmatic purpose that could be implemented, why not, in a commune.

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register ? Any advice ?

Eight days is a lot, and at the same time it is not enough. It's not easy to convince your boss and to be able to free yourself for eight days, it's a reality, but it's really worth it. Once the training is over, we even think that two more days would have allowed us to go deeper into certain subjects. But since we're building a network, we tell ourselves that we can continue to work on these subjects together afterwards.

As for the 3 days of ideation, it's really worth participating. It's a lot of anxiety built up before being there, we wonder why they "lock us up" for 3 days but it makes sense once the machine is launched.

#5
The opinion of Camille Lhote UPCity - Consultant
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme ?

As part of my work, which consists of supporting public authorities in their territorial development, I am constantly led to project myself into the future: what will be the future challenges and the short-, medium- and long-term objectives for our territories?

In fact, we often remind our clients: the city of tomorrow is being prepared now!

The challenge is therefore to have a forward-looking approach to these territories. The notion of Smart City is ultimately found at each stage of our analyses and our support. Participating in the training course therefore really made sense for us. It's a way to be trained as close as possible to new developments, with a view to offering the best in terms of services to our customers.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that a consultancy firm like yours can gain from this training ?

I think there are several advantages: on the one hand, it is about the contacts and the people you meet. It's very enriching to talk about problems encountered with players who have different profiles and who approach it from another angle.

On the other hand, it gives us the opportunity to understand real case studies and therefore to discover best practices that are being developed elsewhere. There is a real learning curve at this level. It is then up to us to adapt the methods and processes studied, to offer tailor-made services that meet the needs of our territories.

In your opinion, how can this training be of practical use to you in your daily work ?

I didn't have to wait until the end of the training to think about how to implement what I had learned in my everyday work. This was done as I went through each of the stages. I was able to identify elements that we perhaps did not take into special consideration, or that we tend to forget in certain stages of our processes, which allows us to readjust.

Among other things, the training allows us to identify certain needs of our communities and offers possible solutions. As an analyst or consultancy firm, it's good to be able to be as close as possible to these needs and to be able to discuss with participants and speakers without any question of selling a product, to be all on the same footing around issues.

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register ? Any advice ?

You need to take the time to train and discover new things. It's not a waste of time, you have to be able to immerse yourself completely in the training courses. That's how you open your mind and start to change.

#6
The opinion of Albane Lairesse and Christian Haid Ethias - Innovation Manager / Head of Strategy, innovations & partnerships
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What are your reasons for enrolling in our continuing education programme?

At Ethias, a brand new entity called "Innovations, Partnerships & Strategy" was created about 6 months ago and it studies innovative insurance themes, such as "How can an insurer participate in the development of Smart Cities"? We were already beginning to learn about the subject, so it was interesting for us to go a little more concrete in order to be able to frame in a more structured way the emerging initiatives in the company.

As an insurer, we have the impression that we don't do Smart. It may not be labelled Smart as such, but initiatives are already well under way, and as an insurer of cities we are convinced that we have a role to play in the dynamic: for example, to insure new technologies, to insure drones, sensors, etc., but also to participate in raising the awareness of the public sector of the interest of this type of approach.

In your opinion, what are the benefits that your organisation can derive from this training?

This is an excellent question, as insurance is not clearly part of the problem, so the difficulty lies in seeing how to integrate the notion of Smart City into a classic approach to risks.

The training allows, among other things, to adopt a certain working method, not only thanks to the 3 days at ID Campus but also via the change management module with Olivier Lisein. We leave with practical tools to be used in project management.

It also provides a scientific theoretical framework, including studies, which we will be able leverageto support our credibility and expertise.

Do you already see how you can apply what you have learned in your daily work?

C.H: Concretely, not necessarily yet, but the training has helped me realise that there is no subject that is not really Smart City, it can remain legitimate because we touch on many disciplines.

A.L: Globally, I'm someone who takes information and needs to think before taking action. But what emerges from the projects developed during the training is really the human aspect. It is essential to keep this in mind in our work in order to find ways to improve our daily way of life.

From a more practical point of view, I think that there is certainly grounds to initiate exchanges with some of the experts present, and to explore - why not - possibilities for collaboration. Contacts and exchanges are therefore a concrete contribution.

And I have already had the opportunity to highlight some of the articles provided during the course as well, to review certain notions on our company's values in the course of the work, it was useful.

What would you say to the next participants who would hesitate to register? Any advice ?

C.H: What interested me the most was Mr Smitz's speech, which highlighted the impacts, particularly in terms of pollution, which are the hidden face of the development of our cities, and which we tend not to take into account so much. However, we have to tackle the problem in a comprehensive way, so it was really very useful and very concrete.

A.L: You should not hesitate! Certain terms may frighten them ("Smart Environment", "Smart Mobility", etc.) and seem distant to them, but we must be able to open our minds, go elsewhere and listen, which pushes us to think, it gives us other avenues to explore in order to return to work with new vigour.

The atmosphere is also nice, it's great to be able to meet people from other horizons and to see what's happening elsewhere, exchanges are very important.

A mix of experts for a multidisciplinary approach

At the SCI, we are convinced that the management and transformation of cities necessarily involves many disciplines, that’s why we are developing our research in various fields (monitoring, governance, strategy, etc.), as well as collaborating with several research centres with a variety of skills (urban agriculture, urban planning, IT, electromechanics, etc.).

In the same perspective, our training proposes a multidisciplinary approach to the Smart City, notably through the intervention of experts from many different backgrounds, who contribute to the training: non-profit organisations, private companies, scientists, cities and inter-municipal authorities, Walloon and European institutions, etc...

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CONTINUING EDUCATION

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