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India announces to invest 50 Billion USD in development of 100 Smart Cities. On Februari 10th 2016 a very first summit is organised in the capital New Delhi with all stakeholders to take on this challenge. But what is “smart”?
When I was invited to speak during the summit I was inclined to refuse. Most Smart City addresses are pure technology based investments that feed the city’s administration with instruments to control and regulate the cities citizens and visitors, creating often an even larger bureaucracy and financial burden for the population . When I announced my doubts to India I also invited the organisation to consider peer 4 sustainocratic city development. The pursuit for core human values creates a vibrant innovative citizen’s response with entrepreneurship and new economic potentia. The organisation and minister of Urban development reacted positively. The path for a Letter of Intent to work together on Sustainocracy in their 100 cities was established.
I am now honored to be able to address the audience with my invitation and help set the tone for the cocreation of health, air quality, safety, local resiliance, education and multidisciplinary cocreation.
STIR Academy is becoming the European standard for inspiration sharing and co-creation for sustainable human progress (Sustainocracy). We deal with the growth potential of promising and proven pioneers in member city and countries. The network is reciprocally based (you give and get 100 back) from inspiration to realization.
The pdf can be downloaded here: STIR Academy international
“What happens when you lock up 300 eager pioneers in a container of a sinking ship on shipwrecking course with the message that they have to save the ship without food nor support while the ship’s captain and his team party on deck inside their self made safety rafts?”
That was the feeling I got yesterday when I was invited to the first “Smart City and Communities” encounter in Brussels. It was organised by the EU for the 300 smart city commitments that had been gathered earlier this year. People from 30+ countries had invested in creating ideas, some already in phase of implementation, and travelled to Brussels to see if they could get support to further work it out or expand their work. Many of the pioneers had gone little further than expressing an ideal, often technology based, in need for cash. Others, like myself, presented working instruments for change, with a 4 year precedent, hardly any money need and ready for growth.
When you arrive at such EU scene you feel somehow “selected”. After all you received acknowledgment that an idea seems valid for the future of Europe. You expect to be received accordingly. After all, Brussels is the capital of Europe and well known for the many billions of public tax money that is used to sustain banks, governments and, above all, them EU selves. As pioneer of a new era one feels suddenly welcome in a systems reality that can facilitate our growth and new stability. We can indeed save Europe but need support, freedom to create, connections and means.
When we arrived at the meeting centre our cheerful sentiments changed rapidly. The reception inside was a hidden away garage hall where we could collect a badge. A labyrinth of stairways and corridors, resembling a mix of hospital and prison, took us to a side room where we could listen to the monotonous program explanation of a lady with limited communication skills and no charisma. We were asked to join one of the 6 clusters to see how to take steps along a 6 month time line from idea to successful implementation.
Had no one read our commitment? We were not in for such old time industrial nonsense. We were ready to work and expand across Europe. During the opening speech it was made clear that technology would not be leading yet the clusters were managed by people from the largest technological organizations and lobbyists of Europe. Who was fooling who? On the EU Smart City site we could see the billion euro lobby of the big ones and we were there to expose ourselves to them.
The message was clear: “You have to save Europe”, create things that we can eventually sell to others in the world, become successful fast, “it is the performance that counts”, economy rules. “Money needs to make more money”. But there is no money for you so try to strengthen each other. The message was enhanced by a chaotic, hierarchy driven structure, old fashion techniques, boring presentations and set-up. One single piece of bread per person with water for lunch (various people had no lunch!), bad air circulation, over heated meeting rooms, low quality programming, bad hosting, hopelessly poor cocktail ending, it all showed the lack of understanding of EU management forces on how change and entrepreneurship works or how to create involvement.
The overall impression was of a shambles, with total lack of creativity, highly managed, cheapest of the cheap, encounter. For me and my people it felt like an insult when we consider the personal effort we put into co-creating our wellness with strong innovation plans and proof.
System versus culture change
Not the system’s dynamics of mismanagement and political abuse made the day successful for us. It were the 300 beautiful people that had come and tried to connect in the scarce moments of open interaction. Many pioneers had just come for money but those of us who really had something to work with started their own structuring and openly began searching for network contacts to work with. What the system did not achieve was achieved by these people themselves. It showed very clearly the difference between two worlds:
* System oriented people: hierarchy, management, instruct, money driven, growth oriented, avoid change, time managed, fragmented, standards, bureaucratic, etc
* Change oriented people: visionary, (ex)change oriented, value driven, changed and desire growth, entrepreneurial, leadership, break through, etc
The pioneers for change felt of course bored, insulted, misunderstood, abused, etc while the system’s reality tried to structure feedback, avoid chaos, risks and change. They were two different worlds. The system’s world does not understand the world of change. In essence that is the problem of Europe. The EU system tries to solve its issues by applying what caused them in the first place, their own money driven, blindly managed rigidness, influenced by big multinationals that equally have difficulties upholding themselves. The tax payers money should be used to provide a sense of progression and innovation rather that a bureaucratic status quo.
It is good to have met some people who are also in the field of change. If the system wants to uphold itself it has to open up to the invitation of change or be prepared for chaos. That is the evolutionary law of living complexities through counter forces interacting on each other.
It was magnificent when we could turn our back to the prison and cold mechanisms of this encounter to enjoy the human chaos of a beautiful evening on and around the Gran Place of Brussels. We needed a couple of hours and few drinks to shake off the old age disappointment and gather back the positive can-do energy that characterizes our pioneering spirit. Two public demonstrations on the streets showed the discontent of other people. The beer was good, the evening nice and warm, the food great and the atmosphere overwhelming. Not at all bad after all.
Both the sustainocratic ventures AiREAS (healthy cities through air quality) and STIR Academy (sharing best practice and education on multidisciplinary cocreation) have been approved as valid partners in the Smart Cities approach of the European Union. See for yourself….
We would like to thank you for your interest into the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities and the submission of your commitment for action, following the Invitation for Commitments which closed on 15 June 2014.
It is with great pleasure that we accept your proposal as an eligible commitment under this European Innovation Partnership. Your commitment will be an important part in our common effort to build a dynamic market-place for smart city projects and solutions in Europe.
Following your indication, you are invited to join the action cluster K. Please feel free to indicate if you believe that your commitment should also contribute to other action clusters or if you think that your commitment should be fully moved to another action cluster.
Please note that the kick-off of the action clusters and hence the start of the implementation phase of this partnership will happen on October the 9th in Brussels. Further detail will follow soon.
We look forward to working with your organisation in the future.
The Smart Cities & Communities Team