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TechPlace Capacity Building Needs Assessment - summary

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TechPlace Capacity Building Needs Assessment - summary

  1. 1. TechPlace – Capacity Building Needs Assessment (Summary) Alison Partridge, August 2021
  2. 2. Think Digital Act Digital 3
  3. 3. Introduction • TechPlace is an URBACT capitalisation initiative. It is a community for anyone who is actively trying to grow their local, regional or national tech sector. It’s a place for public sector people working in cities and regions, or even national government and agencies; it’s a place for private sector people building their own businesses or wanting to be part of a tech growth agenda; it’s a place for educators and academia driving new tech knowledge • The URBACT Secretariat has asked the team of experts behind TechPlace to undertake a short assessment of capacity building needs of URBACT cities in the field of urban digital transitions. 4
  4. 4. Capacity Building Needs Assessment 5
  5. 5. Purpose and methodology • This report summarises the findings of a short exercise which explored city capacity building needs around the theme of urban digital transitions. • It is based on a snapshot survey of URBACT partner cities which generated 96 responses and interviews with 18 city practitioners or stakeholders – all undertaken in May- August 2021. 6
  6. 6. Urban digital transitions – what and why? 8 A key priority for European Cities • ‘The digital integration of urban development policies allows for a cross sectoral and more integrated approach to urban governance and the better use of resources’ (ESPON Policy Brief, 2019). • Digitalisation is cited as a major transformative cross- sectoral trend in the New Leipzig Charter and features heavily in the draft URBACT IV programme. • Large cities are at the forefront of change. Smaller cities are at risk of falling further behind. Urban Digital Transitions • Technological and digital solutions have huge potential to solve many urban challenges. • Here we refer to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, open data, Internet of Things, sensor technology, cloud computing, blockchain and others. • Digital Transition cuts across all city policy areas. Nothing is excluded. Successful digital transition will require a holistic approach which transcends policy silos.
  7. 7. Urban digital transitions – Perceived success factors 1. A progressive culture and agile approach, mindset and vision across the city administration and particularly within (political) leadership 2. A clear digital strategy with KPI’s, dedicated resources to deliver it (ideally a Chief Digital Officer) and open data which enables interoperability 3. Strong and effective partnerships with key tech and digital stakeholders – from universities to startups to big tech 4. Access to deep technical knowledge, experience & expertise combined with strong digital education to build, attract &/or retain local talent in city administrations 9
  8. 8. ‘We need a progressive culture and attitude which is open to innovation and change.’ ‘Leadership and vision are key – it needs to make sense across the administration – we need digital skills, digital champions and public-private partnerships.’ 10
  9. 9. Urban digital transitions – Blockers and challenges 1. Established city staff, politicians and citizens sometimes feel threatened by tech through lack of skills, education and understanding. There are issues around trust and transparency. 2. Cities often lack the necessary tech infrastructure such as good city wide broadband &/or don’t have access to resources to build this 3. City administrations can be slow, bureaucratic machines which are unable to operate with the flexibility, agility and speed needed. There is sometimes a fear of failure. 4. There is a fear that some parts of society will be left behind and that robots and automation will ‘take our jobs’ and rip the heart out of city communities 11
  10. 10. ‘There are 2 factors, both around education and skills. This applies to citizens but it also applies to the internal machine. We need to have the flexibility and resources to move quickly.’ ‘Finding the technology is only part of the challenge. The bigger part is helping citizens, businesses and municipalities understand what is needed & then educating, enabling and encouraging them to use tech & digital solutions.’ 12
  11. 11. Summary of capacity building needs 13 • There is a knowledge and experience deficit in many cities. • Cities said they need help to benchmark their progress against other similar cities. • They want to better understand the key ingredients for success and, in practical terms, learn how to grow these locally. Digital newbie (68.8%) Digital pioneer (31.2%) Nearly 70% of survey respondents considered their city to be in the early stages of digital transition
  12. 12. Potential to address identified challenges 14 1. City staff sometimes feel threatened by tech. Offering tools, education and training and thus enhance understanding and reduce apprehension. 2. Resources are needed for infrastructure Identifying future funding opportunities for implementation could also be useful in signposting cities to resources for digital infrastructure. 3. City administrations are not known for flexibility and there is a fear of failure. Mindsets need to change. Supporting cities to become more entrepreneurial in their approach to leadership. 4. There is a fear robots and automation will ‘take our jobs’ Supporting through education, training and understanding of the opportunities and potential offered by tech solutions.
  13. 13. Summary of capacity building needs 15 Support to understand the potential of tech solutions across all city services and how to integrate these solutions in public service provision Clear signposting to existing and new resources to help with urban digital transition Understanding of how to change mindsets and create a progressive entrepreneurial culture within city administrations Education for established senior staff and politicians across all departments Inspiration and learning from peers in other cities Examples of city digital strategies and job descriptions of key digital posts e.g. Chief Digital Officers; Entrepreneurs in Residence Access to experts who can answer questions as they arise and/or provide bespoke support (from 87% of survey respondents) Help developing metrics and translating digital solutions and metrics into something that’s understandable for non geeks!
  14. 14. ‘It has to go into detail – we need to get under the surface and have honest conversations. We need to learn from failure as well as successes.’ ‘We need a sort of Erasmus for cities – so we can learn about, touch and feel solutions which are being tried elsewhere.’ 16
  15. 15. ‘We need to think of Digitalisation – Sustainability – and Equality, Inclusion and Diversity across everything that URBACT does.’ ‘We need to learn from cities like ours; to connect with people and see it for ourselves. We need to get inspiration, bring solutions home and adapt them to our local needs.’ 18
  16. 16. Recommendations 19
  17. 17. Framework for capacity building – 4 building blocks 20 Agile City Leadership Demystifying Tech Knowledge Exchange Hub Peer Exchanges / practical use cases
  18. 18. Across all key policy areas 22 Leisure, tourism and culture Education Building and spatial planning Health and social care Transport and urban mobility Services (e- government, e- governance, citizen engagement, communications, e- procurement, service design) Economic development / innovation ecosystems Environmental and social care
  19. 19. ‘URBACT’s role is to bring cities together and to facilitate exchange and learning. The content needs to come from experts and cities.’ ‘We need to learn from one another e.g. how cities are using technology across different services. You have to see examples to make it make sense. URBACT has an important role to play.’ 23
  20. 20. Where can URBACT add most value? • There seems to already be some national support for, and networks of, tech teams / Chief Digital Officers working at a high level (especially in large EU cities). • Smaller cities seem to be finding the transition harder. • Therefore, non ‘tech’ or low ‘tech’ teams working across all other policy areas would benefit most from URBACT’s support. • This audience is wider than just existing URBACT network coordinators.
  21. 21. Think Digital Act Digital 30
  22. 22. Thank you to all contributors For more information please contact alison@aurora-ltd.eu 58

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