The smart city movement puts a lot of focus on citizen engagement to develop solutions.
But what about public authorities? How do they come up with the possible solutions to the many challenges of smart city development? One of the most common ways is the conferences they attend. These meetings offer the perfect setting for discussion, knowledge sharing and debate.
In the following interview, we asked Per Boesgaard, who is Coordinator Partnerships & Innovation, Sustainability Expert about the best practices for successful smart city workshops.
Why is important that conferences on smart cities engage attendees in this kind of activity, a workshop?
That’s a really good one. You see, a lot of people join many conferences, a lot of meetings and so on and the majority of these arrangements provide only one-way communication. In a set-up with more than 100 people, you don’t get the chance to exchange ideas. When you add a format like a workshop, it is more intimate, you have more focus and process.These sessions, if done right, have groups debating, so everyone has the chance to share questions, knowledge and so on. So for me, that is quite important and it’s needed in the conference set up.
What will participants learn during the workshop?
First of all, it depends on the participants. What is their background, where they are from, are they company or city officials and what would they like to learn about? What are they interested in learning about? What are their needs right now? What are their tasks back home right now? One has to ask these questions beforehand because workshops should support and also inspire what the participants do back home. Of course, there’s a sketch of what will be going on, but tuning the content and the process with the participants is quite important. Apart from that my part is to share knowledge, challenges and facilitate networking so when the participants leave the workshop they will bring new information and contacts and inspiration related to their jobs back home.
How will you approach the learning process?
On a practical level, I will have a room, four or five tables, six persons for each of them. There should be writing materials like pen and paper. Then I will facilitate, in a way, that they get something to say from the start, making an ice breaker, let everyone introduce themselves, get into a relaxed atmosphere. I know that this step can sometimes be a challenge. Then I will go through the program, ask people for comments and questions, then I will sketch the aims of the workshop. Then debate related to the everyday tasks and challenges for the participants I will show them how existing concepts can be applied in their cities, Budapest for example.
Can you make sure that the information (or least part of it) provided (during the workshop) will leave the conference and make an impact?
By having groups of six people around the table discussing their interests. The challenge is to facilitate talks in a proper way and that is part of my job, to get an atmosphere and the program (?) and help people out.
Why is important for city administrators, consultants, and companies to attend Smart City CEE?
In general, these types of conferences are a platform to meet and gain new knowledge. Such a platform is important because we still have a lot of different definitions for smart cities and we have to meet and discuss them from time to time so that’s overall the main point. What is interesting and important about Smart Cities CEE in Budapest, is the format. A creative platform where people are left with real and interesting inspiration. If they go home and say ‘I learned this and that, I can use this information, I want to know more about this concept’ the conference achieved its goal. If people are left with nothing the day after, they are not likely to come back the next year.
Per Boesgaard is hosting The Sustainable and Smart City back home – your role, possibilities, and challenges Workshop at Smart Cities CEE, register now to get a 30% discount. When registering enter the following code: 30DISC