Better Funding - Draft Action 3: Capacity-Building and Spreading of Pilots in Regions and Cities

  • Cristina (Commu... profile
    Cristina (Commu...
    5 February 2018 - updated 4 months ago
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The OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), in partnership with the European Commission, has fleshed out a framework which identifies six core skills areas (iteration, data literacy, user centricity, curiosity, storytelling, insurgency) that have been observed in civil servants and that can be activated for increased levels of innovation in the public sector. Are these skills sufficiently tackling the challenges of a public sector that is moving towards the principles highlighted in the eGovernment Action Plan and Tallinn Declaration (e.g. digital by default, once-only principles, etc.)? What are the opportunities to ensure that civil servants are ready for the challenges posed by the digital transformation of government?

Cities and regions need to be a part of the digital transition. As this is a new duty, which has to be done among other municipal duties, qualified staff is needed. Also pilots for different organisational capacities (e. g. of smaller cities) are necessary. While in Horizon 2020, primarily early (and often strong) adopters are funded, the digital transition has to reach much further. Therefore funding for capacity building and pilots also for regions, smaller and medium cities are needed. This would also be necessary to help to implement Europe’s cohesion policy and scale the digital transition all over Europe. Cities and Regions – all over Europe and of all sizes - must be part of the digital transition. They have to decide over technical and other infrastructure, services and data policy. They must invest in software, technical infrastructure and maintenance, and as a result, cities and regions require qualified staff.

The digitalisation is – apart from its innovative aspect – said to be a big changer of all kinds of structures, although the details stay unknown. As the digital transformation of municipalities is not an end in itself, it has to serve the sustainability goals at all levels, whether it is social, ecological or economic. Municipalities should use digital technologies as means to make their development socially compatible, equitable as well as energy- and resource-efficient. Such consciously managed digital transformation can support local added value, the circular economy and sustainable lifestyles. In order to reach this goal, cities and regions need to gain new knowledge resources.

Another task is to ensure the long-term functionality of public services: the technical basis of the smart city is comprised of new highly interconnected IT systems. That is why digital infrastructures – from the traffic control centre or the digital town hall to the waterworks – are exposed to new threats. Therefore, the reliability of local services and the provision of emergency services are to be considered already in the early design phase according to the “Security by Design” principle. Again, additional knowledge capacities in cities and at public service providers are needed, taking into account the existing ones, such as the working group on Citizen Centric Approach to Data in the Citizen Focus Action Cluster under the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities which aims to disseminate data protection guidelines.


Knowledge is the groundwork for responsible decision and fundamental for the long term ability of cities to act (objective 6). Knowledge needs for the digital transformation are multifaceted: cities have to build and manage knowledge- and innovation networks, they have to decide about new technologies and data usage, or how to design contracts with data operators, network- and other ICT-providers, to ensure long term capacity to act and informational sovereignty. Therefore the development of a curriculum for the digital transformation at the local level is necessary. Capacity building and pilots for Cities and Regions should be a possible target in the EU structural funds all over Europe.


Digitalisation capacity building programme for the civil servants.


As a first step for a digital curriculum Germany/BMUB/BBSR will test how to use big data in municipal administrations and how the necessary knowledge can be developed in cities to assess risks and potentials of big data usage responsible. Additional partners are invited to contribute with knowledge and expertise. Later the concrete demands for new municipal digital competencies need to be assessed, an appropriate curriculum developed and competencies build. Examples will be studied to determine their results and possible scalability.


  • 2018: Find additional partners.
  • 2019: Evaluate existing programs and develop curriculum and outreach strategy.
  • 2020: Develop attractive programme and smart city academy/institution.
  • 2021: Have a fully functioning capacity building programme for the civil servant on the local level … and fit for the 21st century.

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