On 3 June, 2020 we organized a workshop entitled “Digital transformation – digital skills of smart city executives”. The workshop was part of an event series with the objective to develop the European “DevOps competences for smart cities” network. This specific event focused on the Greek smart city community.
The number of participants – more than 400 registered – and their strong interest shows that this topic concerns a significant number of municipalities’ employees, businesses, and the academic community.
The workshop consisted of two parts, the first had a Greek focus and was conducted in Greek, and the second was focused on the European perspective and conducted in English. During the workshop, it was established that the development of cities and their digital transformation is a multidimensional process, and we have to address both technological solutions and upskilling/training of citizens, municipalities’ employees, etc.
The Greek Perspective
The event was opened by the Rector of University of Thessaly Prof. Zisis Mamouris and by Konstantinos Chambidis, Minister’s Office Director for Digital Governance and ex-CIO of Athens city. They explained why and how COVID-19 epidemic accelerated the digital transformation of the Greek state and municipalities.
Then, Mayor of Trikala and President of Association of Greek Cities Dimitrios Papastergiou presented the strategic roadmap of cities digital transformation.
Georgios Soultis, Deputy Mayor of Larissa city, and Chrisostomos Kalogirou, Managing Director of Major Development Agency Thessaloniki (an intermunicipal agency for the cooperation in the urban policy issues covering the Metropolitan level of the urban agglomeration of the city of Thessaloniki) explained the requirements for the development of Greek digital cities. Professors George Petrakos of the University of Thessaly and Nikolaos Komninos from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki emphasized that cities’ digital transformation is an important regional development tool.
The first part closed with presentations from the private sector. Yota Paparidou, President of the Board of Directors of SEPE (Federation of Hellenic ICT Enterprises) showed the importance of the private sector in this process and especially during the COVID-19 epidemic, while Nikolaos Lambrogeorgos, Senior Account Manager for the Public Sector of CISCO S.A., presented the solution portfolio for smart cities of a large IT company such as CISCO.
The European Perspective
The second part of the event focused on the European perspective. Dana Eleftheriadou, Head of Advanced Technologies Team, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European
Commission, among others spoke about the efforts of the European Commission to transform European Cities and in detail about the “100 Intelligent Cities Challenge”.
Alexandre Bosshard from City of Pully, Switzerland, presented their success story for water management and how this solution was utilized by other cities worldwide. Fulvio Ananasso from Stati Generali dell’Innovazione, Italy, shared best practices based on the Italian experience, while Lea Hemetsberger from Open and Agile Smart Cities network (OASC) highlighted the need for European networks and smart cities’ support services at the European level.
The event continued with the presentation of European standards for smart cities from the senior member of Hellenic Standardization Organization, Ioannis Saridakis. It was followed by the presentation by Professor Anastasia Stratigea from the National Technical University of Athens, who emphasized the need for standardization and correct measurement of the achieved progress.
The event was closed by Prof. Panos Fitsilis of the University of Thessaly, project manager for “DevOps competences for smart cities” project. Prof. Panos Fitsilis explained that smart cities development challenges include citizens’ participation, up-skilling and training of municipalities employees, and standardization of job profiles and skills.
New professional profiles
Prof. Panos Fitsilis introduced three new professional profiles, as they were defined in the context of “DevOps for smart cities” project, namely: a) Smart City Planner, b) Smart City IT Manager, and c) Smart City IT Officer.
- A Smart City (SC) Planner can be a high-level official that is able to bridge the needs that arise from cities traditional development and operational needs, smart and sustainable cities frameworks, best practices, standards and technologies and strategic priorities of the city’s political leadership.
- A SC IT Manager can be defined as an ICT Consultant with responsibilities that include setting objectives and strategies for the IT department, through the implementation of suitable technological solutions, in order to support all internal operations while being responsible of designing and customizing new smart city’s systems.
- A SC IT officer is an IT technical expert that should be able to analyze smart city’s organizational data, determine information system requirements and define project objectives, apply software development process, with appropriate tools and techniques, make recommendations for necessary IT systems, design, implement, deploy and operate new IT services and provide support and training to various types of users.
Competences and skills needed for smart city professionals
In order to create smart cities professionals, a number of competences and skills need to be developed, which can be divided in four different groups:
- Transversal Skills. Includes the development of abilities such as creativity, entrepreneurial thinking, ability to work in a team, social skills, ambiguity tolerance, motivation to learn, emotional intelligence, strategic vision, intercultural skills, project and process management, design thinking, decision making and problem solving, leadership and management skills, stakeholder management, knowledge management and advanced presentation skills.
- General IT management knowledge. Includes the development of abilities in a variety of topics such as software development life cycles and agile methods, IT quality assurance, IT security, system and software architecture, basic concepts of Cloud computing, basic concepts of Internet Of Things, basic concepts of Data Analytics, introduction to Artificial Intelligence and introduction to ITIL.
- DevOps skills. DevOps basic concepts (culture and practices), repository management, continuous integration, configuration management, use of building, deployment and monitoring tools and code analysis and continuous testing tools.
- Smart cities related knowledge and skills. Includes knowledge and abilities about smart cities platforms, smart cities business models, smart services and operating procedures, smart cities standards and legal issues, smart city sustainability, smart city resilience, urban management, citizen driven/citizen orientation/user experience design and smart city financial management and procurement.
by Panos Fitsilis, project coordinator, UTH