#citiesshare Session 2: Sharing solutions

Why are good solutions not spreading more quickly across cities? Scott Cain, Executive Director at Future Cities Catapult, and Sascha Haselmayer, Citymart CEO, challenged city officials during a peer learning session to ask themselves how good solutions could scale faster.  City officials were asked if they had bought or “copied” a solution from another city, instead of reinventing their own. One of the ideas stressed during the session, was the importance of embracing failure and learning from mistakes.

What did city officials take away from this creative session?

Sharing and borrowing ideas (or shameless “stealing”)

  • Take something that works 90% and improve it rather than trying to (re)invent something from scratch that is 100% right.
  • Collaborate: find partner cities and work together.
  • Political transitions can be complicated, but sharing can be enabled by political change (post-mayoral legacy), not for political gain.
  • Being a first-mover city means making more mistakes, and there is often political risk involved.
  • Define a process to collect bottom-up data.  
  • Solutions are not always transferable. It is important to adapt and align, taking the key elements, and analyzing the ability to implement it (considering organizational challenges, resources, economic environment, and citizens).
  • Seek innovation through start-ups, create capabilities and provide training to align departments. 

Embrace failure

  • Cities never talk about bad ideas or experiences, however, this information should be shared. Learning from what did not work minimizes risk. City officials should get together to discuss.
  • Open and honest sharing of failure (“permission to fail”) should not only be acceptable, but part of the scaling process. As an example, in Philadelphia, one out of three projects is expected to fail. It is important to agree on an acceptable amount of risk and failure.
If we do not fail we are not trying enough

Buying ideas and spending on scaling

  • Beware of provider “lock-in”. Cities are supersaturated with vendors all claiming to have the “best” solution, and it might become too overwhelming to choose one solution and be sure it is right.
  • In a snap survey in which cities were asked what percentage of annual budget they should spend on sharing solutions, all agreed that at least part of their annual budget should be allocated to this purpose (answers varied from 10 to 60%).

Creating a common framework for evaluation

  • Cities need a more coherent framework that focuses on their needs, starting with problem definition and service delivery.
  • Think fast-follower: see solutions and learn why they worked; let others make the mistakes and learn from them.
  • Evidence and KPIs: identify and engage what can deliver and measure priorities. Proven ideas bring more efficiency.
  • Consider the viewpoints of citizens on how to create trust and validate ideas.  Their opinion should be represented and they should be involved in identifying challenges through open innovation platforms.
  • It is important to break silos. You could either nominate and train a high-level team of “barrier-busters” as a “coalition of the willing” that can break down the silos between different departments through collaboration, or invite anyone that wants to join to a crosscutting innovation forum.
  • Change attitudes from “Nice idea, but it wouldn’t work here because…” to “Nice idea! Here’s how it could work here…”

What else can be done to share high-impact solutions among cities? Share your insights below. 


From 23-25 June 2014, Mayor of London Boris Johnson hosted Cities Summit | Solutions Worth Sharing together with Citymart and supported by Citi. The Summit brought together city governments, businesses and entrepreneurs with bright ideas to help improve citizens' quality of  life. The Summit kicked off with a Peer Learning Session for cities, creating a dynamic dialogue among city officials around four key themes on how to make innovation a tangible reality. Participating cities included London, Barcelona, Dublin, Fukuoka, Heerlen, Kristiansand, Krakow, Lobito, Louisville, Madrid, Malmö, Moscow, Newcastle, Philadelphia, San Luis Potosí, Sant Cugat, Seville, Sheffield, Tampere, Tartu, Valencia, and York. 

Next post will cover how to overcome public procurement barriers.

#citiesshare Session 1: Financing innovation

During a peer learning session for city officials, Daria Kuznetsova from Big Society Capital and Paula Hirst from Future Cities Catapult, facilitated a dialogue on how to finance ideas that transform tomorrow's cities. The key question was how city authorities could enable an ecosystem that provided finance and support to city innovation.

The key takeaway was that cities needed to create investment-conducive ecosystems for innovation. This can be done by designing service delivery around users and engaging them in the process; providing support to SMEs; running challenge-based opportunities; and establishing incubators.

Another learning outcome was that cities should become an entrepreneurial enabler that encourages confidence, providing clarity and opportunities. Local authorities acting as entrepreneurs could work with big and small investors; meet directly with all investors and decision makers; co-invest; create guidelines or frameworks; enable external funding through multiple channels and mechanisms; and provide finance to the most innovative ideas.

City officials shared the following  ideas on how to finance innovation in cities:

  • Pay by result: outcome-based finance mechanisms can support and deliver service innovation. While providers benefit from greater freedom due to public-private shared risk, it might be difficult to negotiate or might face certain regulatory restrictions.
  • Open challenges followed by implementation through an innovative process: discovery + prototype + deliver, as well as prize fund challenges providing incentives such as access to capital finance.
  • Open city data to unveil assets, encourage ideation, and find out how to quantify future revenue.
  • Participatory design providing shares for citizens.
  • EU investment and sustainable benefits (e.g. low-carbon programmes, improving waste management).
  • Fast-track innovation through procurement.
  • Refinance existing service contracts to lower costs in order to obtain funds to invest in city services.
  • Venture funds for city service delivery.
  • Citizen-led social funding and foundations for innovation.
  • Increase diversity of providers and get major suppliers to use SMEs via supply chain.
  • Finance cultural activities for the community.
  • Social start-up to work for the government.
  • Mass market funding, which might involve more risk and have no return, but creates research value.
  • Private investment with a long-term return, sponsorship and angel investors.
  • Sell shares and invest revenue.
  • Rethink taxation systems.

What other ideas could help enable ecosystems that support city innovation? Share your insights below.


From 23-25 June 2014, Mayor of London Boris Johnson hosted Cities Summit | Solutions Worth Sharing together with Citymart and supported by Citi. The Summit brought together city governments, businesses and entrepreneurs with bright ideas to help improve citizens' quality of  life. The Summit kicked off with a Peer Learning Session for cities, creating a dynamic dialogue among city officials around four key themes on how to make innovation a tangible reality. Participating cities included London, Barcelona, Dublin, Fukuoka, Heerlen, Kristiansand, Krakow, Lobito, Louisville, Madrid, Malmö, Moscow, Newcastle, Philadelphia, San Luis Potosí, Sant Cugat, Seville, Sheffield, Tampere, Tartu, Valencia, and York. 

Next post will cover how to share and scale good solutions among cities.

Why cities open problems and share solutions

Together with our partner cities we promote the vision of cities sharing solutions. It seems obvious, but today even the most successful solutions such as public bicycle systems scale at a pace that reached just 0,1% of communities in over 10 years. Over the past 3,5 years we have learned much about the barriers, but have also found some solutions to overcome them. So, when we talk about cities becoming more open, agile and empathic it is because they fundamentally do two things: open their problems and share solutions.

When you imagine this model applied to 557,000 communities and 10% of world GDP, it would be an incredibly active marketplace. We remain far from it, but after running more than 90 challenges with global cities we are, ourselves, impressed to see just how actively cities collaborate to solve their problems.

And in many ways, this is just a beginning. Increasingly, as at our recent Cities Summit hosted together with the Mayor of London, cities are making much bolder commitments to open problems and share not just solutions, but the methods that will transform their procurement.

Cities sharing solutions - who is trading?

Inspired by articles by The Economist and Paul Romer and Brandon Fuller, we at have for the first time visualized the city-to-city trade of solutions through 82 challenges run through our programs. Destination cities are those seeking solutions through challenges, whilst origin cities are the home of the companies or organizations providing the winning solution. Solutions by companies originating in Paris fared the best, followed by successes of solutions originating in Barcelona, Stockholm, San Francisco and New York City. If rated by countries, the US leads the table as a provider of winning solutions, followed by Spain, the UK and France.

What data are you interested in? Let's see if we can share it.

Cities sharing solutions through (2010-13)

Citizen engagement in procurement on is primarily considered a government to business marketplace, helping cities procure smarter by getting full exposure to all approaches to meet their needs. But also provides a very important asset for citizens in opening up a decision-making process typically handled behind closed doors.

This, in fact, is quite revolutionary.

If we take a look at traditional public spending in cities, we find that rules and regulations focus on the correct tendering process, which legally starts when you send out your specifications to solution providers for bidding. In most global cities, these are today published. What the citizen doesn't know, and cannot know, is how the need that this investment is to solve comes about, how the specification was determined, and whether preferences were given to certain types of providers in the process. The process of identifying the need and specifying the tender are still treated as 'discretionary', i.e. it is up to each official to do this as they please - which usually means doing it behind closed doors, constitutes a breeding ground for bad practices and wastes public resources. unfolds this discretionary process into a shared methodology, today adopted by 47 cities. Each step is documented and offers new opportunities for citizens to engage:

1. Opening Needs, Opportunities as Challenges

Each city working with receives a methodology on how to identify needs, or as we call them: challenges. Many cities, such as Sant Cugat or Cape Town, have chosen to run challenges to find new methods to engage citizens in determining priorities. Genius!York and Mindmixer are to examples of solutions now being used by cities to engage citizens in prioritizing city needs.

Cities publish their challenge on, as for example the 22 partner cities of LLGA2013 did - meaning that long before specifications are done, cities share their intentions. All information is public, and cities commit to publishing local press releases to assure citizens are informed.

2. Finding Solutions, Engaging Communities takes these challenges and proactively invests in a 3-month research process, to find all available solutions. Citizens can follow and interact with the research team on our Storify feed, and through our extensive social media campaigning. Not only can they see what we find, but they get access to valuable background resources to learn about the key issues.

Special emphasis is given to explore all possible approaches to solving a challenge, a key feature for a public debate on how we would like our cities to develop.

All solutions that are submitted to a city are published, meaning that citizens can see exactly what options their public leaders had when they considered their course of action. This is an unprecedented step forward. is an open catalogue, meaning that any citizen can search relevant solutions for their needs and interact with providers, or share these with other members of the community.

3. Decisions & the Jury Process provides cities with a jury tool, to which they can invite decision-makers, but also members of the public or civic leaders in an effort to arive at best decisions. In fact, provides cities recommendations on diversity and composition of juries. documents the jury behaviour, and each member of the jury has clear guidelines on potential conflicts of interest. Should citizens seek information about any part of the process, the data is available and can be shared on instruction by the city.

Names of Jurors are published on, to provide full accountability. Each solution provider receives the original jury evaluations directly in their showcase.

Result: Citizen value becomes central

As a result of this openness, like in many other aspects of open information, cities have become more considerate in how they frame their needs and interests. In our experience of running 87 challenges, cities are increasingly moving away from technical concepts to citizen value and impact concepts. See our related article on the Rise of Citizen Engagement.

Further, creates opportunities for citizens to take matters into their own hand. McKinsey has shown that in Dublin, for example, would be a significant opportunity to create new start-ups that respond to the challenges and needs of the community. 90% of challenges on are won by SMEs, of which about 25% are NGOs or citizen organisations that have the most meaningful solutions to community challenges.

Citymart 2.0 – Plastilin invests $1M to secure growth and independence of transformative impact venture, the world’s leading marketplace for cities today announces an investment deal with Norwegian investor Tharald Nustad through his investment company Plastillin. The deal, which values the company upwards of $3M, is designed to secure the next phase of growth and development as well as the long-term independence of the marketplace by a deal equally emphasizing governance, social impact as well as solid opportunities for return. Showcase - Catalogue follows the vision of helping 557,000 global city and local governments to use their spending and regulatory powers to greater effect for the good of citizens around the world. This is achieved by building a fair and open marketplace connecting cities, vendors, organizations and citizens. counts 50+ global cities as its customers, such as San Francisco, London, Lagos,  Barcelona, Fukuoka and Moscow. founders Jakob H Rasmussen and Sascha Haselmayer welcomed the deal which concluded a fundraising process which exceeds the general pattern of startup-to-venture investment seen in most markets. Through a rigorous process of identifying an investor who, in addition to interests to invest in a venture, is also committed to helping secure the venture’s social impact, the independence of the marketplace and scalable growth are secured. As an Ashoka Support Network member, Tharald Nustad was drawn to the investment opportunity because the partnership with represented a commitment to social impact, company viability and venture growth which is being fostered by leading social entrepreneurs that are alleviating a major challenge effecting cities, governments and citizens worldwide.

Ashoka, the world’s largest organization of leading social entrepreneurs and changemakers, played a key role in matching the investment needs of with a social impact-oriented investor and member of Ashoka Support Network – a global network of successful business leaders focused on changing the world with changemakers.

The investment of $1M will give Tharald Nustad an equal share to’s founders, who are committed to a common social impact purpose. It will also enable the creation of an independent conflict-resolution organization that will protect the marketplace from conflicts of interest and manipulation, as well as help to further develop its online tools (e.g. localization functions, project validation systems), which have been adopted by 25 global cities to date and are revolutionizing the accessibility of public contracts for SMEs and start-ups. will use the investment to further develop its online tools such as localization functions, the validation system for project references, today adopted by 25 global cities that revolutionizes access to public contracts for SMEs and start-ups. Further, will extend its program of strategic partnerships such as the 2-year partnership with Moscow announced in November that will help reform the $25 billion annual procurement process in the city.

About helps cities collaborate and share in new and highly scalable ways providing technology platforms, methods and policies that to-date have helped create the world’s largest catalogue of high-impact urban and social innovations; the adoption of common reporting standards on sustainability. has shown that local government procurement and regulation could be made at least 10% more effective by adopting more open opportunity or problem based approaches and providing fairer access to opportunities to new ideas, approaches and businesses.

Founded in 2011, is based in Barcelona and Copenhagen and counts more than 50 global cities among its clients, discovering more than 10,000 solutions to city challenges in the past 3 years. With more than 1,200 social and urban innovations published by providers around the world in the Citymart Showcase, the platform constitutes the most complete global catalogue of solutions for cities today. 39 urban deployments initiated by reach more than 33.5 million citizens in global cities such as Lagos, Barcelona, San Francisco or Boston today, notably improving access to open data, tourist experiences, road quality or urban energy and lighting systems.

About Plastilin A/S

Plastilin AS is a private investment firm working with startups in the fields of digital technology and communications. Our philosophy is that a great idea needs to be supported by good values, positive organizational culture and capable management to achieve success in business. It is essential that we understand the technology, concept, organization and industry for us to add value to the venture we invest in. We engage in strategic development of the portfolio companies in addition to capital.

Tharald Nustad is a Norwegian private investor and main owner of the investment firm Plastilin A/S. He has been an entrepreneur in several tech startups and is actively engaged in all the portfolio companies of Plastilin. Tharald is also a member of The Ashoka Support Network Scandinavia.

Ending poverty through innovation: translating ideas into actions and challenges into opportunities

There are numerous initiatives and programs that target underprivileged communities. A wide variety of academic studies, economic analyses and policy briefs that list out recommendations to break the cycle of poverty have been written. And many governments around the world, such as those in Latin American countries, have federal agencies specifically dedicated to design and implement social policy for poverty reduction. Efforts come from the developed and the developing world, from different levels of government, from large international organizations to local NGOs and grass-roots associations.

And yet, despite the amount of effort and resources, the process to achieve the main goal – ending poverty - seems to be moving slowly, and there is an urgent need to accelerate it. We often hear about cooperation but it hardly materializes into concrete actions. We need to land those initiatives and translate ideas and good will into action. This requires changing the paradigm through which we have envisioned the end of poverty and making the shift away from the traditional models.

In recent years, we have witnessed the expansion of a phenomenon called “urbanization of poverty”. As cities continue to grow, the number of pressing needs increases in all fields, from health to public infrastructure and utilities, transport, education and employment. At the same time, citizens have changed from being passive service recipients, to key actors that get actively involved and demand transparency and results to their governments. How can cities improve the services they deliver to their communities in a faster way? In the era of knowledge and information, we have the very powerful tool of technology to deliver change.

As Sascha Haselmayer, CEO and co-founder of, acknowledges “there is great technology out there and it is in everyone’s hands; these technologies are scalable and can transform societies”. These words were pronounced at the 8th Forum of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP) that took place in Dublin earlier this year, to introduce the Program “Cities Pilot >>> End Poverty”.

Cities Pilot to End Poverty

This two-year Program is designed by and Dublin City Council to find the most innovative technologies to end poverty and implement them in real life. The World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) endorse the Program.

The process starts by finding the 30 most committed WACAP member cities that share the values of innovation, collaboration, openness and transparency. Selected cities will join forces to call for the most innovative solutions to empower our communities. gives cities the tools they need to get inspired by worldwide social and urban innovators to find solutions to their most pressing challenges. In order to achieve this, our team’s expertise provides cities guidance to identify a specific problem and frame it as an opportunity. Together we define the city challenge in a way that attracts global response from social and urban innovators, and which is published as a global call for solutions on our virtual platform.

Once the call is open for submissions, our dedicated research team starts a proactive outreach campaign to discover worldwide solutions that have the potential to address the city challenge. Each submission to the call is a commitment by a provider to co-invest in a community to implement a high-impact pilot, if selected as the most promising solution. Research findings are documented and shared with cities in real-time, so that their officials, representatives, stakeholders, and citizens can participate. Cities are also encouraged to communicate this opportunity to their local community of social and urban innovators.

In order to select the solution that best meets the city’s needs, we help cities to coordinate a Jury composed of a minimum of five members and at least one international representative. All submissions will be evaluated, five of them will get nominated, and the most promising one will get selected. sets up the technological tools to assure an accessible, transparent and straightforward evaluation process.

The campaign results are announced at the Dublin Summit in February 2014, where cities and providers get together to express their commitment to implementing the selected solution on the ground, while they share how innovation turned a local challenge into a global opportunity. This is a unique experience for both, cities and providers, to network and kick-start new collaborations in their communities.

Most importantly, the ideas get translated into actions, as the selected providers actually demonstrate their innovative solutions in participating cities. A pilot is a cost-effective way to test the chosen solution, which allows cities to make better-informed decisions and smarter investments. In two years from now, cities will meet again at the WACAP Forum in 2015 to collaborate and exchange results.

In this win-win scheme, cities accelerate problem solving through innovation and technology, and social and urban innovators have the chance to implement their solutions to an unresolved need. All participants exchange results as part of a global collaborative community, and facilitate the sharing of high-impact solutions across cities. Together we deliver real change and the outcome is community empowerment and a better quality of life for our citizens.

Civic Engagement, Community Development, Inclusion and Sharing - A debate at LLGA | Cities Summit

By Fedor Ovchinnikov and Ruth Doyle

20+ delegates interested in civic engagement, community development, inclusion and sharing took the opportunity to enjoy five inspiring presentations from speakers representing the UK, India, Argentina, the US, and Brazil. The presenters talked about resilience building at the city level, engaging the residents of a city yet to be built, co-creation as the ultimate goal of decentralization and participation, democratization of city space using the concept of pop-ups, and development of social intelligence through online civic engagement platforms.

Session moderator Allison Arieff (Editor + Content strategist, SPUR) opened the session by introducing the topic. According to Allison, civic engagement with city authorities is too much focused on complaints, so cities spend massive amounts of time and resources reacting to these complaints. In order to save time and resources, and to solve problems more successfully, cities need to move from adversarial to cooperative engagements based on action, innovation and citizen empowerment. Engaging the public in solution development cannot just be left up to high-technology or smart phone based solutions: simple low-tech measures are often capable of improving city services. Allison finished by calling for a “declaration of interdependence” to form the paradigm for reinvention of public participation in the 21st century and to make citizens feel that they have agency and are inspired to contribute to city development.

LLGA2013 15.5.13 Parallel Session A

James Togut (Founder, The Good Life for All) talked about resilience in Brighton & Hove, the first city worldwide to formally embed the “One Planet Living Framework” and concept of “resilience” within its city action plan (“One Brighton”). The core of resilience is the ability to transform and adapt to one planet living whilst providing good lives for all. Resilience implies fostering resourcefulness in material terms - meaning waste (“just a resource that is in the wrong place”) and in human terms – implying the cultivation of imagination, inventiveness, and enterprise. Cat Fletcher (Materials Coordinator for Brighton Waste House) introduced Brighton Freegle Group – an “online dating for stuff” which helps people to become personally resilient in their own lives by developing a peer to peer, and cross-sectoral sharing market place. This platform has 1.4 million users and contributes annual economic value of 120k. Drawing upon the concept of City Makers, Cat & James talked about the need to nurture passionate individuals (change makers and visionaries) within each sector – public, private and voluntary – who are not afraid of disrupting the norm. Cat suggested that City Councils should make dedicated efforts to identify, support and empower these people who are well connected on the ground and have catalytic qualities.

Scott Wrighton (City Manager, City of Lavasa) discussed his experience of building a new city from nothing. The City of Lavasa is the foremost lifestyle development project in India and represents part of the rural-urban migratory shift taking place where it is estimated that 350 million people will move to urban areas in the next 30 years. Lavasa is a private city that creates profit, sells real estate and invests in joint ventures with the private sector to enable the provision of city services. Interestingly, the biggest challenge that confronts this epic endeavor is not infrastructure or money, but acquiring land and dealing with poor governance systems that are not conducive to new ways of city management and public engagement and reduce autonomy for public private partnerships.

The assumption that most people want to engage with their government does not ring true worldwide. Scott suggested that dealing with government can be very off-putting in India where local governments are micro-managed by state government. In this case he stated that there is a desperate need for a change in paradigm to make new inhabitants of Lavasa eager to engage with the city to build organizations that they hope will evolve sustainably and extend citizen engagement. So how do you engage the residents of a city yet to be built? Who should decide and design the mechanisms? Scott noted that after starting with a paternalistic approach where the provision of infrastructure prevailed, the next challenge is to look at the invisible social fabric so that civic engagement mechanisms are in place.

Daniella Rosario (Technical Coordinator, Ministry of Public Utilities and the Environment, Municipality of Rosario) introduced the efforts of the Municipality of Rosario, Argentina to shift to embed sustainability within its city governance and shift to a more decentralized and participatory governance model. Introducing two successful projects – Rosario Mas Limpia (Cleaner Rosario Campaign) and the Green Homes Network Program – Daniella emphasized the need to move beyond government as service provider to paradigms of co-creation with citizens.

Mariella and Pete Watman (Co-Founders of Pop-Up Brands) talked about how pop-ups create a multitude of economic and personal opportunities.. Pop-Up Brands addresses the problem of underutilized and poor listing of available city spaces by providing a marketplace for short term commercial space of all kinds. This approach gives entrepreneurs and artists an opportunity to prototype their ideas in spaces they could not previously afford. Pop-ups can create vibrancy in vacant neighborhoods and regenerate the area. Some pop-ups become permanent while others recycle and evolve thus contributing to the resilience of the area. The growth of the Pop-Up Movement is linked with the trend for the democratization of space – championed by the “Noisebridge Group” – the makers space in San Francisco, focused on citizen empowerment and action over deliberation, through their paradigm of “Do-ocracy”.

The session concluded with a presentation from Brazilian entrepreneur, Daniel Bittencourt (Co-Founder, Lung) who introduced an engagement system called Wikicity. Wikicity is a collaborative platform where, through use of mapping systems, residents highlight city problems as well as projects that may be developed by communities themselves. Each point on the map turns into a lively discussion on the Internet, through the debates promoted on Facebook. The ideas are then sent to local governments who help to create and implement these concepts. In Brazil, the initiative mobilized over 15,000 citizens in, and a growing number of cities around the globe are starting to use this innovative solution to become better places to live!

A new era of trust - Cities endorse validated project references has begun working with cities to recognize independently validated project references, meaning that over the coming months they will take part in a 6-step process leading from endorsing the practice to making it a condition for procurement. [slideshare id=18118363&doc=validationforcitiesr403-04-2013-130403110711-phpapp01]

Independent validation of project references is a tool enabling solution providers to guarantee that information about their track record is accurate, not manipulated, and has persons with no conflict of interest vouching for the accuracy of the information.

To deliver this result, has implemented a new online service by which providers can build their own certification community, drawing on stakeholders such as users, customers, partners and regulators with first-hand knowledge of projects to validate facts.

Cities can adopt validation at no cost and is available to support you in all stages of the process.

If you are interested in helping your city working with more accurate information and thereby enabling more innovative, accountable and accessible procurement for all, get in touch and we will provide you all necessary support.

Why should cities share their solutions?

Cape Town's Louis C H Fourie presents GeniUS York with their LLGA2012 award

With participation, open source and shared practice the buzz words of city governance as we kick off 2013,LLGA offers cities the perfect opportunity to share what they’ve been doing with their global peers. Whilst municipalities have a duty to explain how they’ve been spending public funds and what the results are, this opportunity goes much further. By showcasing their newly developed technology or innovative approaches on Citymart, cities are capitalising on their hard work. The result can not only be international recognition and shared continued development but even a new revenue model.

Problem solving crosses cultures and national boundaries comfortably. The City of York in the UK submitted their GeniUs community innovation platform for LLGA2012 and were selected as winners by Cape Town, with whom they are currently formulating a pilot. Similarly when Sant Cugat presented their Local Innovation Plan for LLGA2010 they were selected as the winner by the jury for the City of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Since then, Sant Cugat have provided training and helped Eindhoven to adopt the formula of citizen and business leader engagement in defining its own local innovation plan.

Further successful projects that cities are showcasing on Citymart include:

Transport for London

London: Work, Play and the Games

City of Chicago

Chicago’s Green Alley Program

City of Austin

City Supported Community Bicycle Shop

City of Hamburg

Little Bicycle-Sheds – Fahrradhaeuschen

City of San Francisco

SFpark – a new way of managing parking

City of Vienna

Smart City Wien

Traditionally there are various reasons why cities develop their own technology. While at times they cannot find what they are looking for on the market, at others they simply feel they can do it better or seek the independence of proprietary solutions. In recent years, however, cities have begun developing with the express intention of sharing their technology with other cities. In the US in particular this has led to numerous forums for sharing reusable technology and methods of working, such as the many solutions like SF Park presented by cities on our own or Code for America’s platform for sharing software on Civic Commons.

By sharing their creative thinking, cities benefit from a wider user base so that the technology is improved and developed quicker than if they were working on their own. The City of Stockholm and Astando have taken this approach with E-adept, an enabling-technology for visually impaired citizens that is actively marketed to other cities with the objective of sharing further development resources. Other cities that use the technology then advance it and provide feedback to Stockholm in a mutually beneficial relationship. Similarly, Boston has offered several apps including Street Bump for other cities to help build on and make development more efficient.

More recently cities have started developing technology with the express intention of licensing or selling it to create revenue and help offset the significant sums invested in development. With their document management platform SmartPDF, San Francisco have done just this with the objective of licensing the technology to other cities and organizations.

Whether looking for international exposure, wishing to publically recognise the work of their employees, aiming to share practice and further develop their technology or planning to raise revenue for the city, sharing approaches and technology will be an increasingly popular way for cash-strapped cities to improve services and lower costs in 2013.

Do let us know your favourtie resources or forums where cities are sharing their technologies and any additional cases of sharing.

LLGA2013 | Cities Pilot the Future. A global call for solutions to improve the lives of millions. Submit by 31.1.13.

A First Step Towards A New Era of Trust in Public Procurement: Validated Project References

Today we are extremely excited about a small box appearing in the Connecthings Showcase: Connecthings Validated Project Reference

For and our many partners, this is an important step towards building a global infrastructure that allows high-impact solutions for cities to scale quickly. Why? Because it delivers unprecedented transparency and accountability.

This summer, we carried out a survey of 54 global cities under the Agile Cities initiative which showed that 87% of cities do not trust the information supplied by providers. Too often, cities reported, companies submit project references that over-state achievements or give no credit to project partners.

66% of cities, consequently, reported that they rely on informal contacts into the business community and often patchy follow-up on project references through calls to former customers. This is often not documented, and can lead to an overrepresentation of local companies winning contracts.

Yet, companies like Connecthings have proven they have technologies worthy of scaling globally. As winners of 4 LLGA|Cities Pilot the Future Awards in 2012, Connecthings was selected to pilot their solution in Rio, Derry~Londonderry, Hamburg and Barcelona.

The team at searched for providers that could certify project references to address this trust issue. Nothing could be found. So we looked at ways to build trust online, inspired by the practices used by journalists in the Arab spring to triangulate facts using Twitter and other sources.

The result is our Project Validation service, which allows companies to describe projects involving the product/service featured in their Showcase and invite stakeholders (such as customers, users, partners and experts) to validate the basic project facts.

Why basic facts?

Trust starts with the basics. Did the project really happen, or is it under discussion? Was it a full implementation or a pilot? Who was involved? When did it happen?

These are binary facts - either true or false. Our validation model works by establishing these facts and requiring three independent stakeholders (who have declared commercial independence from the project) to confirm such facts.

Project View of Connecthings

What can trust deliver?

Cities are always going to carry out due-diligence when awarding a contract worth millions. Yet, our primary aim with this new Project Validation service is to help cities manage the perceived risks associated with contracting small providers and using new approaches to solve their challenges.

If cities cannot trust project references, they have no way of evaluating what is state-of-the art in the market. How can you believe that a technology is mature if you cannot trust its past implementations? The same is true when cities attempt to establish the viability of new and different approaches, which is an issue that most companies consider the most significant barrier to market-entry. Whether your solution tags urban spaces, prevents breast cancer by making use of the sensory skills of blind women, or involves citizens in logistical tasks - cities rely on getting an accurate picture of project implementation history.

Trust in an unconsolidated marketplace.

We have often written about the challenge of a marketplace with 557,000 local governments dealing with complex technological, service and regulatory decisions. Our vision was to create a trust-building Project Validation service that was scalable in such a marketplace because, unlike other markets, cities are never going to merge and consolidate. This means that there is limited room for the specialized decision-making found in other industries. Hence, our eyes turned to sourcing validations though project stakeholders as the only viable method for validating basic project facts.

And this is just the start. Validated references are not just useful in the context of, but in all business activities (tenders, pre-qualifications, RFIs and corporate alliance building) in which increased trust can get you more attention from cities and create better business opportunities. partners with UN Global Compact Cities Programme

Today, the global marketplace for cities connecting more than 50 global cities with more than 1,000 providers of solutions to improve lives announces a landmark partnership with the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. As part of the agreement, has implemented the Cities Programme's 4 dimensions of sustainability used by cities such as Melbourne or São Paulo to carry out their sustainability assessments.

The UN Global Compact Cities Programme is dedicated to the promotion and adoption of the Global Compact’s ten principles by cities, and provides a framework for translating the principles into day-to-day urban governance and management. will be the first global marketplace and solution resource to adopt the 4 dimensions of impact reporting in partnership with UN Global Compact Cities Programme:

- Impact on Ecology - Impact on Economy - Impact on Culture - Impact on Politics


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Already today, this model has been implemented in the Showcase as well as in the evaluation model used by the experts appointed in the jury process of LLGA|Cities Pilot the Future, underwritten by 21 global cities such as Barcelona, London, Paris, Mexico City, Lavasa, Lagos and Cape Town. thereby provides solution providers guidance in reporting the impact of technologies and other innovations in line with the objectives identified in the UN Global Compact process.

You Never Forget Your First One: Winning LLGA2011 for San Francisco catapults SOCRATA

Not every day does an early-stage startup get an opportunity to shine on the world stage. In early 2011, Socrata then a 12-person software startup in Seattle with about 15 customers, was nominated for a Living Labs Global Award in Stockholm, by the City of San Francisco.

The Living Labs Global award recognizes innovation in cities, creating a highly visible global forum to reward cities and their technology partners for daring to try bold new approaches to solving problems. A perfect opportunity for a startup.

Socrata was fortunate to have partnered with one the world’s most innovative cities. Years before Open Data became mainstream, San Francisco realized that its data was a strategic, but idle asset, with vast untapped potential to increase the city’s service capacity and transform its relationship with residents.

San Francisco started opening up and releasing its data years ago. As the initiative gained momentum, however, San Francisco realized that it needed a scalable platform that can support the entire data-to-information continuum, from capture and collection to distribution and consumption, in the most cost-effective way possible.

In May 2011, San Francisco and Socrata won the Living Labs Global Award for their innovative plan to migrate the city’s Open Data to a new cloud-based Socrata-powered platform. On March 9th, 2012, Mayor Edwin Lee affirmed City’s ongoing commitment to Open Data through the manifestation of this plan, aptly named The website puts City data online in a way that makes it useful to citizens, businesses, developers and even city employees.

Jay Nath, the City’s Chief Information Officer told The San Francisco Chronicle, “We had all this raw data, and you had to be an uber geek to figure it all out. This platform makes it easier.”

The new Socrata-powered San Francisco Open Data Cloud offers a wide variety of feature, architecture, and performance enhancements, including:

  • Simple, easy-to-use, citizen interfaces that allow non-technical users to interactively explore data, visualize it, and share contextually-relevant information with others, on the site, across the web, and on social networks.
  • Automatic full-text indexing of every data set’s content to facilitate online search, in addition to the ability to download the data in multiple, open, machine-readable formats.
  • Automatic API access to every data set, via the Socrata Open Data API (SODA) and access to technical support and online developer resources, which will lower the access barrier for civic developers.

Mayor Lee told TechCrunch, “Making City data more accessible to the public secures San Francisco’s future as the world’s first 2.0 City. It’s only natural that we move our Open Data platform to the cloud and adopt modern open interfaces to facilitate the flow of information and develop better tools to enhance City services.”

Jay Nath adds, “Two years ago, when we launched, Open Data was a visionary experiment in reinventing the government of the future. Today, with increasing worldwide adoption, we view Open Data as part of our new cloud infrastructure to deliver citizen, social, and programmatic interfaces to government services, in a much more cost-effective and agile model.”

San Francisco will continue to be one of the nation’s trailblazers in data as a platform for innovation. Socrata, now boasting over 50 of the world’s top public sector organizations like New York City, the World Bank and the United Nations, has grown by leaps and bounds since then and is now the recognized market leader in Open Data. The people of Socrata will always remember fondly the first award that recognized their work with one of the best cities anywhere in the world!

10 Steps: Taking an Innovation for a City from Idea to Deployment

After a first round of consultation of experts and city professionals, Agile Cities is launching the first draft of its 10 stage process to take innovative ideas to full implementation in cities.

You can comment on the 10 Steps and the Draft text here.

One of the objectives of the Agile Cities initiative is to provide more reliable communication in the marketplace around innovative solutions that can transform communities.

A key element of this is to begin to establish a process to track the stages which a typical innovation passes through from Idea to Deployment. After an initial consultation process, we have edited a 10 Step Process which is now open for comment in an iterated editorial process.

You can add ideas by going directly to the open text document here or by commenting on this post.


LLGA2012: A Journey in Numbers to Improve Millions of Lives

As we are nearing our Award Ceremony on May 2 in Rio de Janeiro, when all eyes will be on the 21 winners that have been selected by 21 global cities - such as Barcelona, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Kristiansand, Eindhoven, Lagos, Cape Town, Rome and Fukuoka - we take a minute to recall the journey that took us here.

LLGA2012 in Numbers

21 Cities

110 Million Citizens

21 Challenges

3,500 Existing Solutions Found

555 Validated Entries from...

50+ Countries

147 Jurors

109 Shortlisted Solutions

7,500 Evaluations

45,000 Evaluation Data-Points will be published to providers

21 Winners

21 Pilots in next 12 months

Three years ago, we had an idea. What if cities called for solutions to their pressing challenges? Why was there no place where cities, soon home to 70% of the world's population, could share their challenges?

LLGA - the Living Labs Global Award - was born as a simple and quick experiment. In just 3 months we mobilized 12 cities to present their challenges and share an evaluation method to identify the best solutions. The results led to improved waste management in Barcelona, and to Eindhoven adopting a new process to involve citizens in their evaluation methodology,

In November 2011 we launched LLGA2012, in partnership with 21 global cities with 110 Million citizens in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa. Each city presented a challenge to which our wonderful research team of 10 in Barcelona found 3,500 existing solutions around the world.


After a validation, we received 555 entries from more than 50 countries, which were reviewed by 147 international jurors appointed by the cities to 21 juries evaluate the impact of the solutions for each category. This generated 7,500 evaluations and some 45,000 evaluation data-points providing valuable feedback on May 3 to participating solution providers via the Showcases on

On March 5th, the cities and their juries presented 109 nominated solutions that entered a second round of evaluation. On May 2, we will present 21 winners - selected by the cities as the most promising solutions to improve the lives of 110 Million citizens.

In the coming 12 months, these winners will implement 21 pilot projects, to show the real impact of their solutions and allow citizens, government agencies, business partners and the partner cities to experience change.

Bitcarrier, winner of a LLGA2011 Award saw their Citysolver solution launched their pilot just 3 months after winning, and signed a contract within another 3 months. Not only did they save $320,000 in acquisition costs and went to market 4x faster than usual - but the citizens of Barcelona spent less time in traffic as a result. Every single day. And that is just one winner...

Stay tuned! #LLGA

LLGA Shortlist – Coming March 5th

The submission deadline for the Living Labs Global Award 2012 has come and gone, and showcase evaluations are heating up. Solutions to a host of city challenges have been submitted and are being reviewed for this year’s round of awards. 717 innovative ideas were submitted for consideration this year, from ways to harness kinetic energy from sports facilities to ideas for collecting real-time data on public transit systems. 21 cities in 14 countries are taking part in this year’s awards selection. A jury panel of local and international experts from each city will review the submissions and select those that best address their city’s challenge for innovative technological solutions. The awards are designed to benefit both the partner cities and the solution providers; cities have the opportunity to learn more about cutting-edge ideas that can help them solve their most pressing problems, and winning solution providers get to test their prototypes or pilot projects in a real-world market before launching a full-scale campaign.

This year’s partner cities have put forth a diverse group of challenges. Lavasa, India is seeking proposals that will help encourage residents and visitors to use public transit and non-motorized transportation for the majority of their trips in the city. Barcelona, Spain wants ideas on how to better integrate tourists and visitors into city life and culture during their stay. And hundreds of companies, NGOs, and research institutes have responded to the challenges put forward this year.

The LLGA shortlist for each city challenge will be presented in two weeks on March 5th. Projects chosen from the nominees' shortlist will be announced this May at the Rio Summit on Service Innovation in Cities. Until then, you can check out the diverse selection of submitted showcases on CityMart.

 ~ Allison Bullock

Do you have a Solution for the Maintenance of Urban Surfaces? Coventry wants to try it!

The city of Coventry (UK) is investing to secure the sustainability and longevity of its urban surfaces in key areas of the city and invites companies worldwide to submit their solutions before 17th February to the Living Labs Global Award 2012.

Submissions are free of charge and the winner of the Coventry category will be invited to pilot its solution in this city with full support from local stakeholders to evaluate the solution before a full-scale roll-out.

In last year’s edition, Worldsensing for example managed to see a pilot implementation of its FastPrk Technology to monitor parking within 6 months of winning the Living Labs Global Award.

Coventry is looking for a sustainable, low maintenance and innovative approach to protecting, cleaning and maintaining two of the sites that are at the heart of the city’s recent public realm improvements.  The city wants to ensure a good quality environment is maintained for future generations (more information here).


How to submit:

Entries can be submitted online until 17th February 2012.

International juries will evaluate the entries and provide a shortlist of the top 100 showcases on 5th March. Winners will be announced on 2nd May 2012 at the Award Ceremony during the networking Rio Summit on Service Innovation in Cities, for which all participants are invited.


About the Living Labs Global Award 2012:

Living Labs Global, a non-profit association promoting innovative solutions in cities around the world, is organising the 2012 edition of the Living Labs Global Award in cooperation with the cities of Barcelona, Birmingham, Caceres, Cape Town, Coventry, Derry~Londonderry, Eindhoven, Fukuoka, Glasgow, Guadalajara, Hamburg, Lagos, Lavasa, Kristiansand, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Rome-Lazio, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Santiago de Chile and Terrassa.

Together with these 21 cities, the Living Labs Global Award 2012 aims to provide a market opportunity to innovative solutions with the aim of helping over 110 million citizens in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe.


For more information please contact Living Labs Global office in Spain:

Email: / Tel.: 0034 93 1855110 Twitter: @LivingLabsAward Facebook:

Could it be easier to live without a car than with?

If you’re living car-free, you probably already know the answer to that question. If you live in one of the select cities where development is dense, urban spaces are interesting and inviting, and streets are places rather than empty spaces, then your answer is almost certainly a resounding ‘yes.’

Quebec City

A friend passed along this series of posts about “traditional cities” versus “hypertrophic cities,” and the implications each have for a car-free (and, he argues, a generally pleasant) lifestyle. He further classifies hypertrophic cities into 19th and 20th Century versions – 19th Century hypertrophic cities grew as a result of the Industrial Revolution, when technology advanced quickly but travel speeds were not at all near what we have today. Twentieth Century hypertrophic cities grew at an alarmingly fast rate, with the provision of interstate highways, fast and comfortable cars, cheap fuel, and a vision of The Future City that prioritized the machine elements of a city rather than human ones. Traditional cities (like Venice, Tallin, older parts of Kyoto) have a couple key characteristics; the most revealing according to Nathan Lewis are narrow streets. These have two effects: they make driving difficult and they make walking appealing. Today, in our 20th Century hypertrophic cities, we are trying to grapple with the discrepancy between these inviting places and the hostile environments created through prioritizing non-human elements.

Perhaps the metric of success we should use is whether or not it becomes easier, after retrofitting and changing future growth scenarios, to live in our cities without a car than with. Do citizens have more access to jobs, to amenities, to health care, to activities by walking, biking, or taking mass transit than by driving? Several strategies are being used to achieve this (e.g. limiting parking, pricing driving in downtowns). Do you think our cities are retrofit-able? In what other ways can we conceive of these “narrow streets?”

-          Terra Curtis 

Join us! Service Design Research Position on Systemic Change in Cities

As part of the European DESMA consortium, we are looking to recruit an Early Stage Researcher to a European doctoral level research training network in the area of Design Management. The positions are full time for three years, starting in September 2012. Opportunities for adding a fourth year for completing a PhD will be discussed separately for each position.   DESMA is an Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions that combines 4 leading universities within the area of Design Management (University of Gothenburg, Aalto University in Helsinki, Politecnico di Milano, and Imperial College, London), 4 leading European design consultancies (Ergonomidesign, Engine, Live|work, Future Concept Lab) and 4 complementary product and service organizations (Volvo Group, Philips Innohub, Poltrona Frau, Living Labs Global) in an unprecedented cross-disciplinary effort to understand how design can be exploited as a driver of innovation and competitiveness in Europe.

We are seeking applicants with a master degree in either design or business and some professional experience. The employed researchers will conduct research projects in collaboration with their host organization, take part in a common training programme with doctoral level courses and build a forum for design management research in Europe.

Last date for submissions is March 15th 2012

For more information visit our website: