With this article, we begin a series devoted to our most relevant advice for Walloon towns and cities seeking to adopt a Smart City approach.

The first advice that we have decided to discuss concerns the formation of a team in order to manage the problem. In terms of methodology, standards, and norms, we rely on publications from the BSI (British Standard Institute) which is a world reference in the field of #SmartCities

One of the preliminary remarks concerns the complexity for officials of a city or town to effectively manage the problem. Indeed, the number of areas in which the city has complete responsibility is limited. Most often, these are managed by several entities. Our thoughts turn, for example, to mobility (TEC, private carparks, public-private partnership for shared bikes, etc.), energy (inter-municipal, private building managers, producers, etc.) or even security (region, province, private companies, etc.).

The city thus needs to build a multidisciplinary and transversal team and exercise a strategic management role through partnerships with all other stakeholders in the city (other levels of public administration, inter-municipal entities, associations, economic environment, academic environment, etc.). It is therefore essential for the leaders of a city to rally all of the stakeholders around a vision, objectives, and a medium and long-term strategy that are common to them.

Working together to consider the primary challenges is already a smart approach and a more participatory and open process. This already shows the strength of a collaborative model and enables the identification of interdependencies and creates relationships between the various stakeholders.

In this context, it is first necessary to appoint a leader of the process, a person in charge of gathering all of these stakeholders around a single vision, such as the City of Brussels which has chosen Céline Vanderborght as its Smart City Manager

This Smart City Leader has the mission of managing the change. He or she must receive the full support of the leaders of the city or municipality, but must also have a sufficient margin of flexibility. The leader’s role in building the team is to ensure the legitimacy of each of its members. This legitimacy must be based on the recognition by others of a special expertise, their notoriety, their ability to bring people together, their communication skills or even a special status within their environment (president of the trade association, alderman for economic affairs, president of the initiative centre, etc.).

The idea is to gather the relevant stakeholders "around the table" based on the topics discussed. For example, one scenario might involve assembling a trade representative, carpark manager, mobility manager, inter-municipal waste management, and so forth around the issue of the attractiveness of the city centre

This type of initiative, depending on the size of the municipality, may take different forms. For example, the dynamic LIEGETOGETHER team, through its “ICT DAY” event, unites the Liege ecosystem around different themes and organises interactive workshops. The results thereof are the basis for the development of a strategic plan for the city and its various entities.

In summary, as the leader of a city or town, you designate a manager of your smart city approach, offer such person maximum autonomy and help the person gather the best team possible so that the manager can conduct initiatives on specific topics, develop a plan of action, and achieve tangible results.

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