Smart City Academy

Are you interested in the experiences of others working in smart city projects and organizations? The Smart City Academy provides available knowledge about smart city projects and can help you with project development. This Smart City Academy page provides you with information and researches about the impact and conditions of smart city projects. Professors, teachers and students study the initiation, management, collaboration and scaling of smart city projects and would like to share these results with you. They do so by organizing events and masterclasses, by developing smart city tools and methodologies and by making research and outcomes accessible. You can find everything here. And the good news is.... You can add your knowledge too! Are you working on Smart City research? Please feel free to share your knowledge in the Academy section, under ‘Other research and theses’. The Smart City Academy is powered by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. If you have any questions, you can contact

Smart City Academy, posted

We are looking for Smart City issues and research questions!

Our ambition is to do further research on Smart City projects and their ecosystem. Therefore, we are curious about your smart city issues and questions! Are you a company, foundation, government or startup with a challenge in health, mobility, energy or other smart city issues? Are you curious about the possibilities of big data, struggling to scale-up, wondering how to create effective partnerships, trying to make a business case for you smart city project?
Put your research question into the spotlight at our Smart City Academy event on the 16th of january and win a research voucher. This voucher gives you access to a researcher that will explore your issue for a week. We will try to formulate some first answers to your research question and explore further steps for research together with public or private companies.

If you're interested in pitching on this event, or want some further information, please contact

For more information about the event, click here

Smart City Academy's picture #SmartCityAcademy
Mirko van Vliet, strategy at Amsterdam Economic Board, posted

Interesting read on Dutch smart cities by the Rathenau institute

(Dutch publication only, unfortunately)

The research focusses on the smart city activities of the largest municipalities in the Netherlands. It is a series of three articles including: What do Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht en Eindhoven (G5) do with data and smart technology? What are the consequences for public values, such as privacy, online security and autonomy? And how do municipalities cope with these values in their projects?

1. Cities driven by data
2. Are smart city practices putting pressure on public interests?
3. How do municipalities protect the public values in the smart city?

Mirko van Vliet's picture #SmartCityAcademy
Djaja Van den Berg, Community Manager , posted


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Djaja Van den Berg's picture #CircularCity
Jeroen Wijnen, Product Support at Alliander Sustainable Area Development, posted


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HEAT is the number one solution to the prolonged decision-making processes typically involved in energy issues. HEAT allows parties to co-design and develop a heating grid.

Quick: HEAT provides instant feedback about your own actions and those of your partners, providing an immediate and clear understanding of your and their goals and interests, funding, and the sustainability of the design.

Effective: Any range of scenarios and designs can be tested without a problem using HEAT. Decision-making is speeded up and projects are implemented quicker.

Realistic: Realistic simulations based on real data and smart mathematical models. 3D simulations of the city or neighbourhood that you and your partners wish to make greener.

Jeroen Wijnen's picture #Energy
Noud Verhave, co-artistieke leider MAP en projectleider KAREL , posted


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- is een rijdend podium voor INNOVATIEVE DENKERS en CULTUURMAKERS voor duurzame projecten
- rijdt op energie van de ZON en het net
- levert STROOM voor jouw evenement waar dan ook…
- rijdt in en rondom AMSTERDAM en in overleg ook (ver) daarbuiten
- is op verzoek te HUUR met festivaltent, tafels, banken, licht, geluid
- is rijdende RECLAME voor duurzaamheid én jouw evenement
- kan ook gebruikt worden als RUIMTE voor kantoor, kassa, café, dialoog en meer
- heeft een team beschikbaar voor PRODUCTIE van advies tot uitvoering
- biedt mensen een WERKERVARINGSPLEK
- meet 6 x 2 x 3 m, is een rustige heer in het verkeer en altijd SCHOON en opgeruimd

Missie KAREL
Projecten in de stad worden gefaciliteerd vanuit de grondgedachte van duurzaamheid en energie (energie is meer dan elektriciteit!). We willen letterlijk en figuurlijk mensen bewegen. Zo brengen we verandering op gang. KAREL levert een bijdrage aan maatschappelijke vragen op het gebied van duurzaamheid zicht- en bespreekbaar op een creatieve/culturele manier.
KAREL is en initiatief van Moving Arts Project.

KAREL staat voor KAR voor Elektriciteit op Locatie. KAREL is een stalen busje van het oerdegelijke Hollandse merk Spijkstaal dat al lang voordat het noodzaak werd elektrische wagens bouwde. Moving Arts Project bouwden hem om met zware moderne batterijen en met zonnepanelen op het dak zodat hij aan de moderne elektrische standaard voldoet en energie-neutraal is.
KAREL werkt als een inspirerend rolmodel. Hij is CO2 neutraal en verspreidt de boodschap van groen en duurzaam door de stad. En hij is vernieuwend: KAREL is een van de eerste in z’n soort in Amsterdam en levert stroom op elke gewenste locatie, vervoer, productiematerialen en meer aan bewonersinitiatieven, cultuur en maatschappelijke (buurt-)evenementen in de stad.

KAREL is een mobiele duurzame e-distributie unit en biedt een alternatief voor vervuilende dieselgeneratoren. En KAREL is stil, dus geen geluidsoverlast voor de bewoners rond het evenement, voor het publiek en de crew. KAREL heeft als standplaats culturele wijkonderneming Tugela85 aan de Tugelaweg in de Transvaalbuurt in Amsterdam Oost en kan hiervandaan in heel Amsterdam aan het werk om cultuur-maatschappelijke (buurt-)evenementen te voorzien van groene energie, productiematerialen, licht/geluid techniek en meer.

Meer weten of KAREL huren? Neem contact op via of bel 0655335465

Noud Verhave's picture #Energy
Prashant Shukla, Savana Solutions , posted


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The app offers users a simple, yet effective way to manage their household waste more efficiently, as well as making sure the surrounding areas of their neighbourhood comply with waste management regulations too. Available on Google Play and Apple Store.

My Clean City App - How does it work?

My Clean City App - How To Report

Keep track of MyCleanCity through our:

Facebook: <>

Instagram: <>

Twitter: <>

Youtube Channel: <>

Our Website: <>

Prashant Shukla's picture #Citizens&Living
Iskander Smit, innovation director at ThingsCon Amsterdam, posted

ThingsCon Amsterdam 2017

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ThingsCon is Europe’s leading conference about the future of hardware, connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT). We aim to foster the creation of human-centric & responsible IoT.

This year we are organising the 4th Dutch edition of the conference on November 30th & December 1st 2017, at the Volkshotel. We value ThingsCon as a platform for the community of designers and makers and, even more than before, we like to offer the chance to apply for a talk or session. Just like the 2016 edition of the conference, we will focus on the right mix between inspiration and in-depth sessions.

This year we have almost 30 sessions and 10 keynote speakers. Several of the sessions specifically address the topics of the future of smart cities, the role of citizens and things as citizens.

Iskander Smit's picture Event from Nov 30th to Dec 1st
Amsterdam Smart City, Connector of opportunities at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

The Road to Barcelona - The Interviews Part 6: RecyQ Zero Waste International

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The Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona is getting closer! Next week the Holland Pavilion will be filled with Dutch companies. One of them is the start-up RecyQ, working on the circular economy. We talked to Richard Severin.

How does RecyQ work?

Richard: ‘RecyQ makes more from waste by combining the hyperlocal bottom-up approach with technological possibilities. Our business is to get people to become more of waste problems and show them that waste separation is very useful. Together with our partners, amongst others the City of Amsterdam, we set up a zero waste platform for people in Amsterdam to separate waste more easily. People can separate paper, plastics, glass and textiles in our store or in containers. We measure the amount and in exchange people get a crypto token with which they can buy stuff in local stores. Besides that, we show people through our app how much CO2 they saved. We do not only make sure there is less waste, we also transform waste into new products. For local communities, we are closing the loop of raw materials.’

How do residents react?

‘The responses we get from citizens are very positive. People see the future of sustainability happening in their neighbourhoods. We show people how to contribute to a better world and tackle climate change hands on. It makes the circular economy more visible to residents. Of course, not everybody is willing to join us, but we focus on the people who are open to our ideas and care about the planet we leave behind to our children. They will tell their neighbours about it. This way we get a lot of positive attention! And of course it helps that people get a reward for separating waste, especially for those in a less fortune financial position.’

Do you have any plans to scale up?

‘Yes, it is very important to show other countries and cities the value case for combining waste separation and reusing materials with smart city technology! We were asked by a few parties to investigate whether our waste management and recycling project could work in the rest of the world as well. We already presented in New York City and at the Asian Development Bank. We are thinking of setting up feasibility studies for other cities. Then cities can choose which parts of our zero waste menu they want to take into development. In the Netherlands we already did such a study for Amsterdam Zuidoost, resulting in the venture Zero Waste Zuidoost and there are some opportunities in other Dutch cities. These are the bigger urban cities in the Netherlands because in the smaller areas the waste and recycling problem is not as big. The Netherlands ranks top 5 in Europe when it comes to waste separation, but bigger cities are not doing so well. Scaling up for us is also part of the reason why we are going to Barcelona!’

Want to meet Richard Severin in Barcelona? Join us at the Holland Pavilion in Hall 2!

Amsterdam Smart City's picture #CircularCity
Evert Kuiken, Manager operations and projectmanager at LENS Energie, posted

Herman's Smart Grids

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Herman can switch energy produced by solar panels to a specific household connected to it. Herman's Smart Grid enables it to distribute energy to a connected storage device as well. And Herman's Smart Grid can switch on or off or even manage household appliances to balance energy produced and energy used. And it can do so several times a day.

Evert Kuiken's picture #Energy
Smart City Academy, posted

Elevate Smart City Practice

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Meet & Match at Smart City Academy

The strength of smart city research:
Are you a company, foundation, government or startup with a challenge in health, mobility, energy or other smart city issues? Are you curious about the possibilities of big data, struggling to scale-up, wondering how to create effective partnerships, trying to make a business case for you smart city project? Curious how to elevate your smart city practice?
Find out what research can mean for your smart city project or initiative at our Meet and Match event! Discover our tools, knowledge, methodologies and fields of expertise. Meet smart city professionals & researchers. Share your questions and find research partners. We are curious about your smart city issues!

Pitch & Win
Bring your smart city research question into the spotlight and win a research voucher. This voucher gives you access to a researcher that will explore your issue for a week. We will try to formulate some first answers to your research question and explore further steps for research together with public or private companies. Contact for more information.

Join us!
January 16th, 1 – 5.30 PM. Hogeschool van Amsterdam, room named “FLOOR”, second floor of the Wibauthuis (WBH 02A30).
Open for everyone!

13.00 – Walk in
13.30 – Welcome by Robert van den Hoed, lector Energy and Innovation.
13.45 - Key note by Mark Deakin: Professor of Built Environment at the Edinburgh Napier University, shows his ground breaking research about smart and sustainable urban transformation in London.
14.00 - Pitches from the Smart City Academy about our research topics, f.e.: upscaling, user involvement, data, collaborative entrepreneurship, partnerships and business models, public values
14:45 - Meet and match the researchers at round tables
15:15 - Break
15:30 – Climb on the soap box and pitch your Smart City research question. We use our collaborative knowledge for some first answers.
16.30 – Closure and drinks

Smart City Academy's picture Event on Jan 16th
Zulfikar Dinar Wahidayat Putra, University Student , posted

looking for: Interviewee in the field of Environmental Aspect and Smart City

I am Zulfikar a master student of Urban Environmental Management in Wageningen University and Research.
Currently, I am conducting a thesis research with the title "The Interaction between Non-Government-based Smart City Projects and Government-based Environmental Management: The Case of Amsterdam". ​Basically, the research aims to investigate three elements, namely the smart city projects initiated by non-governmental parties, environmental management conducted by governmental parties, and their interaction with each other.​

Regarding that, I would like to talk to people who have knowledge about their smart city project and environmental aspects in Amsterdam. I need at least 2 persons from Amsterdam Smart City Platform, knowledge institutions, and/or companies.

The result of this research will benefit the Amsterdam Smart City platform and Amsterdam Municipality to understand about the linkage between smart city projects and environmental management of Amsterdam.

If you are the one, please let me know by contacting me via email
Thank you for your help and attention.

Zulfikar Dinar Wahidayat Putra's picture #SmartCityAcademy
Conor Quigley, Project Manager , posted

AI and Big Data City Council Trial

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Citibeats is a start-up based in Barcelona and we have been awarded funding to launch a proof-of-concept (lasting one month) with a limited number of cities - at no cost to the city organisation.

Our software leverages AI and Big Data to promote a more responsive, transparent and inclusive governance; providing governments with accurate situational analysis and prioritisation of solutions in a city.

We have been recognised by the UN, European Commission and NTT Data for our work in this area (see the video below for more info):

Do you want to listen to your citizens’ voices?
Do you want to empower them to create actionable change that will improve the city?
At Citybeats, we are seeking launch partners to pioneer a new model for creating sustainable and engaging communities.

Visit <> or contact <a>cquigley@thesocialcoin.</a>com for more info.

Social Coin: NTT Data Open Innovation Contest 2016 Winner

Conor Quigley's picture #DigitalCity
Amsterdam Smart City, Connector of opportunities at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

The Road to Barcelona - The Interviews Part 1: Live & Fun

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In preparation for the Smart City Expo World Congress Barcelona, we spoke to Tania Kovalov. Together with her partner, she founded Live&Fun: a start-up and mobile app that allows users interact with virtual objects in the real world using smartphones. At the Expo (14-16 Nov), Live&Fun will be one of the companies to meet at the Holland Pavilion.

What does Live&Fun do?

Tania: ‘Live & Fun aims to stimulate desired behaviour with an app with gamification elements and rewards. Our solution is an augmented reality process where users can earn points for showing desired behaviour (think Pokémon Go).'

'Our solution provides not only a lot of fun for users, but also a way for municipalities to stimulate desired behaviour. At Rembrandtplein for instance, we have developed a quest in which we showed cyclists where they should park their bicycle. When they successfully did so, they were rewarded a free drink or ice cream from nearby restaurants. This example shows that Live&Fun is also a novel and unique advertising platform for local businesses based on augmented reality.'

Why should visitors of the Smart City Expo meet Live&Fun?

'We are a company that aims to increase social sustainability using gamification and technology. Cities face similar problems related to traffic, parking, public health, crowd-managing and tourism, but not all cities overcome these problems in a friendly way. We can provide a municipality the tools to resolve these urban problems through rewarding (instead of ticketing) people.. At the Expo, we hope to express our motto that behaviour change should be made fun. In co-creation with municipalities, we can develop solutions to urban issues that do not limit one’s sense of freedom.'

What does the future hold for Live&Fun?

'We will continue to search for cases where our solutions can be implemented. Together with our skilled team, we aim to deliver friendlier solutions to social issues within the municipality of Amsterdam. We dream of cities in which the relation between government and citizens is characterised by rewarding instead of fining: driven by positive instead of negative stimuli. We hope to create unique and interactive experiences for citizens and visitors and connect them with the city in unimaginable ways.'

Want to know more about the Smart City Expo?

Check our introduction video here!

Amsterdam Smart City's picture #Citizens&Living
Asmaa Elsayed, Conference Coordinator , posted

International conference: Future Smart Cities

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IEREK organizes this conference in hopes of disseminating research and knowledge on the methods through which cities may be transformed into Smart cities.
It aims to improve cities through means that encompass Urban planning, Strategic Planning, Economic Planning, Architectural Development, Environmental Sustainability, Information Technology and effective use of Natural Resources.

Smart Cities are those which use Innovative methods for solving daily problems, are currently working on developing the future vision of improving the standard of living of its inhabitants

Asmaa Elsayed's picture Event from Sep 25th to Sep 26th
Ruse Alexandra, Consultant , posted

Amsterdam Tech Job Fair Autumn 2017

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Tired of browsing online job boards all day long?

What if you could have all the top tech companies in Amsterdam in one place, at the same time? Amsterdam Tech Job Fair 2017 is a chance for job seekers to talk to companies that are hiring in person. If you’ve had enough of submitting your CV online without the opportunity to make a lasting first impression, here’s your chance to change your strategy and do a bit of networking.

Once again, everyone from retail, software, pharma, media, healthcare, automotive, engineering or fashion industry, startups, agencies, consultancies to high-growth tech companies are kindly invited to join to present, network, promote the brand and jobs & hire talent.

For Job Seekers
Meet recruiters from tech companies that are hiring in Amsterdam in person.
Ask all your questions and learn about what it’s actually like to work for the companies that you’re interested in.
Practice how to talk to recruiters, how to get your personality across to them and make a great first impression.
Forge new connections and grow your network of contacts.
Discover some amazing startups that are contributing to building Amsterdam’s future as a tech hub.

For Companies
Meet young graduates, interns and experienced professionals who are eager to work for tech companies. Get your job postings promoted, exhibit and present at Amsterdam Tech Job Fair 2017.

Ruse Alexandra's picture Event on Nov 29th
Catalina Iorga, Content Lead at Amsterdam Impact (City of Amsterdam) , posted

GoodCode - Coding for change

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Ideas and entrepreneurship for positive impact are gaining momentum. There are a lot of ideas with great potential, but often they lack tech knowledge needed to get them off the ground.

GoodCode aims to bridge this divide by organising events that bring together people with programming skills and people keen to solve society's biggest challenges.

After the success of the first GoodCode event, we're excited to host another at Impact Hub Amsterdam. This is also part of Impact Hub's Workbench series of monthly workshops for entrepreneurs who want to take their start-up to the next level!

During the evening you can also crowdsource solutions to your most pressing question by engaging the other participants!

The program schedule is:

18:30 Walk in
19:00 Opening
19:10 First speaker: Samuel Goodwin, Developer
19:30 Second speaker: Maurits Bos, Lawyer at Benvalor
19:45 Third speaker: Laurens Slats, Global Community Manager at The Things Network
20:00 Workbench
21:00 Drinks and chatting and small informal pitches

Hope to see you there!

Catalina Iorga's picture Event on Oct 5th
Ward Mesman, Adviseur Duurzaamheid at City of Amsterdam, posted

Circular Expo

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A temporary exposition from 9 till 27 October in the Herstelling at the Town Hall to provide practitioners of circular projects in the city and the municipality Amsterdam a place to show their work and take the spotlight. Learn what a circular economy is and how the whole city is working on becoming and staying circular.

Opening 9 October

End 27 October

Special program follows later

Do you have an innovative circular product or project and want to show it at the circulair expo? Contact Ward Mesman at

Ward Mesman's picture #CircularCity
James Bell, Editor , posted

Amsterdam – A Data-driven City Of Europe

The smart city projects of Amsterdam overlay 8 primary categories that include big and open data, smart infrastructure, smart mobility, smart economy, smart society, smart areas, smart living and living labs.

James Bell's picture #SmartCityAcademy
Colette van der Minne, Owner , posted

The secret to citizen engagement. Lessons from a Manchester success story.

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Does your project’s success depend on the involvement of citizens? But are you struggling to interest or motivate them?

In Manchester, Dave Coleman and his team have developed a method with which they have so far managed to excite and engage over 4.000 people about climate change. Not just the usual suspects, but people from all walks of life, such as Somali refugees, unemployed social housing tenants and children.

Curious to know what their secret to success is? Read it here

A few minutes ago we were all nodding our heads in agreement but now everyone in our meeting room fell silent. None of us had an answer to the question that had just been raised: “Involving citizens is important to our project but how do we make it happen?” As the silence continued, I realized: we are all citizens ourselves but as professionals we struggle with how to get ‘them’ on board with ‘us’. How odd…

Citizens never really central and seldom part of project partnership

When I started doing a bit of research on the subject, I found out we were not the only ones having a hard time. Recent research on smart city projects from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) said: “In most smart city definitions, citizens are considered to be the key users and should be the main focal point for the smart city technologies that are being developed. In the projects we evaluated, we rarely found evidence of this. Citizens were never really central and seldom an official part of the project partnership”

I sighed with relief - thank goodness, it’s not just us! Apparently many of us working in energy transition or smart city projects struggle when it comes to engaging citizens.

But off course that wasn’t actually good news. If we want to create change, and have an actual impact, we need people to (want to) join our projects or causes. But how?

Good communication alone is not citizen engagement

For many of us it’s common practice that, after the project is carefully planned and designed, we bring in the creatives and ask them to develop a sticky campaign to arouse citizen enthusiasm and involvement. When this doesn’t get the response we hoped for, we blame the campaign. This, as it turns out, isn’t quite fair (according to the UvA research):

*“Often assumptions were made about what citizens wanted or needed, without being thoroughly verified by consultation with those citizens. Moreover, many mistakes were made in determining the way of involving users in the project.*”

So, as communications expert Alec Walker-Love[1], working extensively on the subject, puts it: “Citizen engagement requires good communication – but good communication alone is not citizen engagement.”

So what is? What is the secret to citizen engagement? The subject started to feel like a mysterious black box to me; what on earth gets citizens going? Or, even better, gets them to stand still and reconsider their thinking or behavior?

Involving over 4.000 ‘unusual suspects’ in climate change

Salvation came unexpectedly. Last March, when visiting Manchester, we had the pleasure of meeting Dave Coleman co-founder and Managing Director of the Carbon Literacy Project (and member of our City-zen Advisory Board). He amazed us. With the Carbon Literacy Project he had so far managed to excite and engage over 4.000 people (!) in and around Manchester about climate change. Not just the usual suspects, but people from all walks of life, such as Somali refugees, unemployed social housing tenants and children. I couldn’t wait to get the inside line from Dave to how this was done. Fortunately he was willing to share it all.

The Carbon Literacy Project emerged from Manchester’s climate change action plan ‘Manchester: A Certain Future’, written in 2009. Next to an ambitious goal for reducing the city’s CO2 emissions, the plan pledged to ‘engage all individuals, neighborhoods and organizations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low-carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city’. You can’t however expect a process of cultural change to happen if people don’t have enough knowledge or understanding of the carbon impacts of their activities. So one of the objectives of the plan was to make people ‘carbon literate’.

In 2010 Dave and his ‘Cooler Projects’ business partner Phil Korbel, decided to take up the carbon literacy challenge. Because, as Dave put it; “if we want change, we need people to just get it”.

The Carbon Literacy Standard: anything but standard


This was no easy task. The aim, as formulated in the plan, wasn’t to develop some kind of awareness campaign but to offer every citizen within Greater Manchester ‘one days’ worth of learning’ about climate change. Dave and Phil brought together a voluntary 30-person working group, consisting of people drawn from all sectors, to work collectively in developing an approach to engage people. They called it ‘The Carbon Literacy Standard’. Their approach however is anything but ‘standard’. Instead of developing an ‘off-the-shelf’ training course to make people ‘carbon literate’, they decided to create a different kind of program. One that turned out to be very successful because it has adopted a very distinctive (learning) method. A method in which people not only gain knowledge about climate change but actually become involved in the subject and start to care about it.


So what is their method all about? How do they manage to turn those heads around and influence behavior? The answer is both short and simple: by putting those they want to reach at the heart of everything they do. They don’t focus on what they want or think is important but on what is meaningful to others and works for them. Is it that simple? Yes it is. The hard part off course is in actually doing it. And how. Here are three key elements the CLP works by that are universally applicable to every project whose success depends on engaging others:

1. Always speak in terms of the other man’s needs

At the Carbon Literacy Project they focus on what they call ‘local learning’: trying to make whatever you are trying to teach (or tell) as relevant as possible to the person at the other side of the table. “Nobody will show up just to talk about climate change” Dave explains “it all starts with finding common ground. Talk about something they are interested in and show them how climate change is tied up with that.”

Dave illustrates this with an example: How do you reduce the number of FC United fans driving to soccer games? Not by telling them it is better for the environment to take public transport but by talking about things they care about: “take the Metro and everyone can have a beer, you travel together with your mates, you will save a few pounds and you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot…. “ Or by enhancing their pride of FC United: “our club is doing something about climate change and we are going to do it much better than others.”

Dave emphasizes that is important to “always speak in terms of the other man’s needs” referring to one of the principles from Dale Carnegie’s famous book ‘How to win friends and influence people’. “Ask yourself; what are they interested in right now? And then try to find the overlap. It is all about shaping it into somebody else’s needs or interests.”

Dave’s words remind me of a quote by another bestselling author[2]: “First seek to understand and then to be understood.” If you want to engage people into whatever your cause is, first make an effort to immerse yourself in what is important to them. Only then you will know how to spark their interest. Now of course that isn’t always easy but it will pay off; it will earn you people’s attention and willingness to be involved in your project.

2. Invite those that are essential to your project in from the start

At the Carbon Literacy Project they believe they can’t know what kind of training works best for you, your group, community or organization. What works well in one group or community might fail in another. That’s why they have embraced a concept that Dave calls ‘crowdsourcing the training’. Which means you – the person working to achieve Carbon Literacy in your group - get all the help and input you need, but you customize the training for your group and, whenever possible, deliver it yourself too (more about that in #3). As Dave says: ““We don’t focus on form but on outcome”. They trust that, with the right guidance, these ‘trainers’ will be able to put together a better working training program, fitting the needs and interests of their own group, than CLP would have. And thus creating a better outcome.

In addition, they emphasize the importance of a concept called ‘group enquiry’. This means that during a training you do not tell people what to do differently to reduce their carbon impact but you let the learners, with input of expert knowledge and peer support, jointly find their own answers and devise their own solution. Or as Dave puts it: “We just create the space, provide the necessary knowledge and people find their own way to the answers” This maximizes the participants’ sense of independence, expertise and purpose in responding to climate change and thus will increase ownership and their motivation to act further.


So how does that translate to us working in smart city or energy transition projects? If you want to influence people’s thinking or behavior, do not only immerse yourself in what is important to others but also invite them in from the very start. Don’t try to put it all together by yourself first and then reach out, but work together with those that are essential to your project from the very beginning. You can be the driving force but put your ego aside: be open to unexpected ideas and approaches of others. This will not only create a better outcome but it will also boost enthusiasm and ownership with those that are essential to the success of your project.

3. Focus on a peer-to-peer approach

At the Carbon Literacy Project they believe that “training is most trusted and best delivered by peers”; people who, to the learner, “feel like themselves”. Dave explains: “Information becomes more credible when it is told by peers, by ‘people-like-you’, not some expert talking down. I, for example, wouldn’t be credible to most soccer fans. I simply don’t look and sound the part. It’s better to take somebody they already respect. Someone they share a common background with. Research shows that peers are the most trusted source of information” That’s why Carbon Literacy training is mostly delivered by someone from the group it focuses on.

So, if you want people to be open to your project, work together with a few (respected) members of that specific community. Find likeminded people and involve them as your local ‘ambassadors’ and work together from the start in formulating your message and determining the way of approaching people.

Stating the obvious?

Now to many these three lessons from Manchester might feel like stating the obvious. Nothing new. And you are right. Deep down most of us already know these things. And that’s great. But we don't always do them. Now what it takes is courage. Courage to start putting what we know into practice. And making an effort to really connect. Because, let’s face it, engagement is a two-way activity. And it starts with us.

[1] Alec Walker-Love is co-writer of ‘Report on innovative citizen engagement strategies’.

[2] Stephan Covey - ‘7 habits of highly effective people’

Colette van der Minne's picture #Citizens&Living