In Milan this month, in collaboration with Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) and Connected Places Catapult we conducted a workshop with the participating organisations of the SynchroniCity EU project to look at how the municipalities involved might extend the value of their collaboration beyond the soon-to-conclude EU funded activities. 

SynchroniCity has been a very successful collaboration between 21 cities delivering 51 deployments of innovative connected technologies in under three years. As part of this, “Cities Forum” was a place of trust and collaboration within the project, with monthly calls and sharing of expertise, experiences, challenges and solutions between those at the coalface of deploying and evaluating technology to solve urban challenges. 

From the outside, deploying technology in cities might not seem so complicated,but procurement, privacy, technology, data, politics, organisational challenges, and much more stand in the way of a successful use of digital technology in our cities. Having a place to share experience across different municipalities and regions has been a great asset. 

Now that the project is coming to an end, the goal is to scale and sustain its impact, so Context Studio, together with OASC, hosted a workshop with participating cities and pilots from across Europe to understand what might be learned and taken forwards from the dynamic of the Cities Forum. 

We adapted a technique from GameStorming and asked teams in the workshop to take 10 minute intervals to write down respectively their “Appreciations, Puzzles, Risks, and Wishes” from the experience of participating in the Cities Forum. This activity culminates in a compound reflection across all of these observations: What actions might be taken in future to ensure a better, more sustainable path forward? 

Teams were enthusiastic, and with facilitation, the benefit of first breaking down thinking to reflect on separate individual dynamics was clear. By then having the teams define actions, some very clear pointers were collected as to the possibilities for a successful Cities Forum that OASC plans to continue beyond the SynchroniCity project. 

After a break, and in the spirit of collaboration, we engaged in a lighthearted brainstorm as to future possibilities. The teams sketched future concepts, metaphors for the compound needs which Cities Forum had come some way towards providing for. The “Super Librarian” and “City Coco Farm” concepts pointing towards the need to cut through the noise and find solutions, while prioritising low hanging fruit for impact on our evolving urban systems. 

We were excited to be involved in this great occasion, the culmination, it might be said of hard work by the partners, cities and pilots over the three years of Synchronicity. Context Studio is delighted to be supporting OASC in the service design of their offering to cities and to smart cities businesses, more on that exciting project a little later.