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Smart Cities Marketplace

Checklist for the VISION stage

This section discusses the first stage of the roadmap for integrated planning and implementation: the VISION stage.

Due to the long-lasting impact and lengthy preparation time of smart city projects, and the community involvement in co-design, co-financing and co-realisation of plans, it is of utmost importance to have a vision shared and agreed with major stakeholders, investors and especially citizens and local businesses. The key question addressed in this vision is: “How do we want to see the city we are living in, in 20, 30, or 50 years from now?” Before making any decision, there is an absolute need to agree on such a vision and to make it robust by guarantees that this vision will not be changed at each new political mandate or cycle. The vision should be the consensual result of an extensive consultation of all concerned stakeholders, in particular of the citizens who live in the city. This engagement of all stakeholders is key to successful integrated planning and implementation of smart city projects.

This stage creates this VISION, which is shared with and supported by other internal and external stakeholders, and describes the long-term objectives for the smart city plan(s). It can also be that an up-to-date overall long-term city plan or strategy already exists, but needs to be better attuned to smart city and low energy district topics. The same goes for related plans such as SE(C)APs and SUMPs, which might need to be better aligned with other municipal plans or business strategies of energy suppliers or transport operators. In these cases, the roadmap for integrated planning and implementation can build upon the existing vision, strategy and the approval of implementation. The added value of this methodology for those plans is then a wider scope, which fosters a cross-domain and multi-sectorial approach, and concrete suggestions for ensuring capacity and other resources. The same steps can be taken, but less time might be needed for the first step of problem definition as the overall long-term city vision, SEAP or another plan, is the point of departure.

The following steps are taken to achieve a VISION shared with and agreed upon by major stakeholders. At first, it has to be made more precise, which problem(s) or issue(s) the city actually wants to address with one or more smart city projects, and what is known about this problem or issue so far. Subsequently, it is important to take stock of what be more or less needed to solve these problems. Because the consent and help of key stakeholders are indispensable in this, in the next step the local ecosystem has to be organised in case it is not built up yet, to ensure smooth collaboration with these particular problems and have the right people around the table. Often one of the problems in cities aspiring to introduce smart city or low energy district solutions is that the local ecosystem is not yet sufficiently developed.


Stage 1: Vision


How do we see the city we are living in, in 20-30-50 years from now on?

To do 1: Define the problem
by making more precise which problems we want to address or which existing urban vision or plan we want to realise with smart city project(s)
TO DO 2: Take stock of what you already have and what you would need
by becoming aware of financial and organisational aspects and of stakeholders which should be engaged
TO DO 3: Start organising the local ecosystem
by identifying, engaging and informally consulting key stakeholders and clarifying their roles and responsibilities
TO DO 4: Brainstorm
by discussing different aspects of the problem(s) and issue(s) with key stakeholders
TO DO 5: Create shared knowledge base
by exploring possible solutions for the problem(s) and issue(s) at stake together with key stakeholders
TO DO 6: Explore legislation and commitments
by charting the preconditions and binding national and EU obligations following from these, which may influence the design of your solutions


  • direct consultations
  • SWOT-analysis
  • peer review
  • round tables
  • focus groups
  • broad public hearings
  • World Café
  • benchmarks
  • scenario planning
  • foresight studies
  • mind-maps
  • innovative brainstorming methods (i.e. tree of knowledge)
  • Espresso Maturity analysis
  • NESTA method


  • ISO 18901 Diagnostic of city’s readiness level/ maturity level for setting a long term vision
  • ISO 37101 Quality Management Systems approach
  • National standards if applicable<


Priority in long-term objectives for smart sustainable development laid down in vision.

Following, different aspects of the targeted problems or issues are explored with these stakeholders, to hear their opinions and understand their interests. After that, the city investigates directions for possible solutions with the same stakeholders in order to determine their feasibility and viability. Lastly, conditions following from the current legislative framework and ongoing obligations from binding commitments have to be looked into, as these determine what can be done and what the city is allowed to do, or what the city has to do anyway (e.g. implementation SE(C)AP, SUMP). This defines the degree of freedom in carving out new activities under specific mandates or legal responsibilities.

Commonly used tools during the VISION stage are direct consultations, SWOT-analysis, peer review, round tables, focus groups, broad public hearings, World Café, benchmarks, scenario planning, foresight studies, mind-maps, innovative brainstorming methods (i.e. tree of knowledge), Espresso Maturity analysis, and NESTA method (see example Scottish Cities Alliance in section 1.4) . Standards, which can support the VISION stage consist of European or international standards such as ISO 18901 Diagnostic of city’s Readiness level/maturity level for setting a long- term vision, ISO 37101 quality management systems approach, and national standards if applicable.

Following the steps described above, will result in clearly prioritised, long-term objectives for smart sustainable development laid down in a city vision or comparable document.

Specific barriers during the vision stage, mainly related to governance and administration, are often mentioned and will be discussed in more detail later in this section:

  • Silos: difficult inter-departmental coordination and communication;
  • Impact of political cycles and changed political priorities of a long-term vision;
  • Lack of leadership, political will or commitment;
  • Administrative conflicts and differences in work culture;
  • Insufficient awareness or interest of key stakeholders;
  • Inadequate alignment of vision and plans with legislative framework and ongoing commitments. It will be explained how such barriers can be overcome for each to do.

Relevant projects and solution booklets


The purpose of BUILDSMART was to demonstrate and mainstream cost-effective technologies and methods in the design of buildings with very low energy consumption in different European climates, since


The aim of the ECO-City project was to demonstrate innovative integrated supply and demand side energy concepts in three communities in Denmark/Sweden, Spain and Norway: respectively the cross-border

Solution Booklet Citizen Engagement

Cities around the world are looking for ways to address the true needs of their citizens, with a deep level of engagement and co-agency. At the same time, citizens themselves are eager to have more