During a Eurocities Knowledge Society Forum event, 17-19 June 2013 in Oulu, Finland, Dave Carter from Manchester Digital Development Agency presented the Green Digital Toolkit to the delegates.

Most cities there are already signatories (about 8/9 of 10/12) so all promised to do something but nothing immediate.  After the summer break, Dave will email them and remind them of their agreement to share tool and activity data in Oulu.  He suggests supporting them closely to do this, even offering to ‘hand-hold them’ through the process.

Currently the tool section of the toolkit is quite bare – there are ideas for potential tools but not links to the tools themselves.  When adding content, city representatives were very comfortable with sharing activity details – they could and did write this content in immediately without needing to check with anyone else.

The problem with sharing tools themselves (a link/a download) is that permission is needed and often the person who has the authority to agree to the sharing of a tool is an unknown.  Since many cities are not in the habit of sharing with other cities, there is no process or procedure for approving the sharing itself.  When faced with that kind of uncertainty and without any pressure to share coming from one’s line manager, the easiest response is to just not act.

So how to make it easier to share tools than not share tools.  This is a tricky challenge.  One tried and test approach is persistent support!  If the NiCE team persist and offer support to city representatives in sharing tool details, then the more proactive cities will start to share.  Once a few put details online, others will follow because they see the benefit and want to be part of the sharing community.

Manchester and Linkoping have both shared tangible, downloadable tools already.  Manchester has shared details of a open source method for viewing low carbon projects on a Google Map.  Linkoping have shared a timeline which shows their city’s journey into one of the world’s leading green digital cities.

Our next step, therefore, should be to go back to all those cities who have listed their ideas for tools already in the toolkit and ask them to provide more concrete information.   During our site visit to Warsaw, we also came across almost 2 dozen tool ideas – we have asked Warsaw a couple of time to provide more details of these and will ‘handhold’ if necessary to get them uploaded.  The next 6 months of this project will be very focused on this activity.