Newsroom

LATEST NEWS

SMR NEWS

Strengthening Europe's resilience backbone: 9 new cities join SMR at Thessaloniki launch event

13 November 2017

Representatives of 19 cities and municipalities met in Thessaloniki on 7th November for the Smart Mature Resilience project's Stakeholder Dialogue event. 9 cities became the newest members of the SMR project, joining the project’s 7 cities, which have been working with researchers for the last 2 years to develop tools to support cities in strategically developing their resilience. The cities to join the Tier 3 group were identified on the basis of experience and knowledge of resilience development. The event marked the launch of the project's third circle of cities aiming to build a backbone of resilient cities in Europe.

Four of the cities have developed this knowledge through membership of ICLEI: the Greater Amman Municipality (Jordan), Malmö (Sweden), Münster (Germany) and Rekjavik (Iceland), or participation in projects like the RESIN project (www.resin-cities.eu) in partnership with ICLEI, in the case of Greater Manchester (United Kingdom), or are part of other projects and international networks: Athens (Greece), Malaga (Spain), Stirling (United Kingdom) and Thessaloniki (Greece).

As a true dialogue, the new cities were active contributors to the event as well as receiving training from the project's Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities and research partners. Aphrodite Bouikidis, Resilient Thessaloniki, presented Thessaloniki's Resilience Strategy, presenting the city's general resilience goals: Shape a Thriving and Sustainable City, Co-create an Inclusive City, Build a Dynamic Urban Economy and Responsive City and Re-discover the City's Relationship with the Sea.

Giorgos Dimarelos, Deputy Mayor for Urban Resilience and Development Planning, shared Thessaloniki’s journey towards resilience amid intense challenges, including the financial crisis, the challenge of integrating refugees, and adverse weather effects from climate change. Steps by the city council have produced positive results in creating cooperative relationships with stakeholders, establishing a promising basis for achieving the city's goals, such as tackling unemployment and re-establishing a meaningful connection between the city and its coastline. The Deputy Mayor demonstrated how the city had successfully won support from the regional government to develop the coastline area in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities.

The cities of Kristiansand, Greater Manchester and San Sebastian are, like Thessaloniki, coastal cities, and each city shared their experience with working with critical infrastructure providers, first responders and citizens to deal with crisis situations caused by flooding, and to develop preparedness and resilience to flooding as part of the cities' daily work. Kristiansand and San Sebastian are applying the tools of the SMR project to conduct self-assessment and audit of the city's policies and current levels of investment in resilience, as well as considering the interdependencies of risk using the Risk Systemicity Questionnaire (RSQ). These cities are now serving as guides and peer trainers to their Tier 3 partner cities to pass on the knowledge they have developed through the SMR project.

The city of Amman, Jordan, shares challenges with some European cities, but at a scale unimaginable for its European peers. The population in the city has more than doubled in the last decade due to the war in neighbouring Syria, and the municipality has been working overtime to provide support to the new inhabitants and stretch the city’s infrastructure and housing to accommodate the unprecedented population pressures. Its ICLEI member peer, Malmö, has also introduced programmes in response to refugees seeking asylum from war, and the cities could compare challenges, risks and policies that have been implemented in both cities.

The event proceeded with training on the SMR City Dynamics Model. Cities were divided into groups and played the project's serious game to play in a simulation sandbox and experiment with the effects of different budget options. As budget experiments cannot be carried out in real life in cities, simulations provide a way for practitioners and decision-makers to try out different investment options in a safe environment. The game helps users to better understand the Resilience Maturity Model and to see through trial and error playing, the significant benefit of implementing policies in the order laid out in the Resilience Maturity Model.

The cities participated in a training session on the SMR Risk Systemicity Questionnaire (RSQ). The participants were divided into 5 groups, with a mix of city representatives in each group. Each group was facilitated by a Tier 1 or 2 city representative who had been involved in the development of the RSQ, with support from Strathclyde or an experienced user of the RSQ. Each group addressed different topics in the RSQ: Public Unrest; Elderly; Social Cohesion; Critical Infrastructure; Climate Change – air pollution.

There was a high level of debate and involvement about risk scenarios and potential strategies that could be implemented to prepare for interconnected risks. The groups were able to experience focused discussion on risk scenarios in cities facilitated by use of the RSQ. The Tier 3 cities were able to quickly understand how the tool worked and were able to use in in a trial run in practice. Some Tier 3 cities were already confident in their plans to run RSQ-based workshops locally.

Clara Grimes (ICLEI Europe) trained the cities on approaches for communicating best practices for resilience in cities based on narrative methods. Effectively communicating projects and policies in story form is essential so that citizens, stakeholders, other departments of the municipality and the media can better understand and connect with a city’s aims and progress. The cities of Stirling (UK), Malmö (Sweden), Glasgow (UK), Vejle (Denmark) and Rome (Italy) then applied these methods to tell the story of their local best practices to the cities and stakeholders present at the event, including community group activities in Stirling, crisis management in Malmö, resilience education in schools in Glasgow and a programme where a design school ‘designed’ ways for severely disabled people to make meaningful friendships beyond their professional relationships with their carers. Further resilience stories are available for reference in the SMR Policies Tool. Finally, researchers from the Center for Integrated Emergency Management presented on the SMR Resilience Information Portal and how cities can pick and choose code from this portal toolbox to supplement their resilience management information infrastructure.

The Tier 3 programme will continue with online training webinars and an in-person Stakeholder Workshop as part of the Breakfast at Sustainability's event series in Brussels on 7th March.
SMR NEWS

Planning for flooding, terrorism and disasters in Kristiansand

16 October 2017

“We are creating tools that cities can use to prevent disasters, and to be prepared for when they occur. It is also important that cities learn from each other's experiences, good and bad," said Professor Jose J. Gonzalez, the University of Agder (UiA). He is the acting scientific coordinator for the European-funded research project Smart Mature Resilience, in which the UiA and the Municipality of Kristiansand, along with six other European cities and five research and international institutions, develop models for how cities can prepare for natural disasters such as sea level rise, extreme weather, flooding and landslides, as well as terrorist attacks and major accidents.


Involve more institutions

In several of the models that the crisis management research project has prepared for various disaster scenarios, it is recommended to involve far more institutions, public and private bodies than only emergency services departments and municipalities. "After the flood, it became clear, for example, that locally, we could have involved more volunteer organizations and the general population in general. Experiences from other places have also shown that it can be effective to prepare people for disasters occurring, and to train them into how they should respond, "says Sigurd Paulsen, deputy chief executive officer in Kristiansand Municipality, explaining: "We can warn or prepare people living near vulnerable areas about the risk of flooding, avalanches or acute pollution from a company or similar. The information can go to charity or non-governmental organizations, or directly via text, email or social media. The emergency response manager believes that such information must be targeted and is probably most effective if the recipients perceive a real threat. For example, it may be easier to understand the need for increased preparedness now after a serious flood occurred than a before part of the country was inundated with flood waters.

A broad-researching topic

"The serious flooding this autumn drew attention to the research project, but it's about so much more than just flooding and extreme weather," says Jose J. Gonzalez. “In addition to natural disasters, the research project deals with how cities can prepare and handle conditions such as heatwaves, juvenile delinquency and economic changes.
Several of the models have already been tested and have already achieved good results in cities such as Vejle and Glasgow. In both cities, they have managed to turn economic recession into new optimism and growth, "said Jose J. Gonzalez.

Three of the cities that participated in the research projects, Bristol, Glasgow and Vejle, already began developing resilience ten years ago in order to better cope with unforeseen events. To make this happen, the cities have expanded their cooperation with business, the city's organizations and universities, and have gotten citizens involved in city processes.

"In these three cities, the investment has had positive ripple effects. The cities have managed to turn business downturns to positive growth," says Jose J. Gonzalez.

NOK 45 million
The research project has a budget of €4.6 million or about 45 million kroner. Of this, UiA has 9 million kroner over three years.
"Without being able to answer for the entire organization, I think there can be much to gain for Kristiansand municipality," says Sigurd Paulsen.

Original text: Torbjørn Witzøe, Fædrelandsvennen. Translation: Clara Grimes, ICLEI Europe.
SMR NEWS

Smart Mature Resilience to launch new programme and workshops at Thessaloniki event

9 October 2017

Nine ambitious local governments will join stakeholders from seven European cities in kicking off a new city collaboration programme as part of the Smart Mature Resilience (SMR) project at a Stakeholder Dialogue in Thessaloniki (Greece) on 7 November 2017.

The event will see participating cities sharing and exchanging local government policies and tools for strategically building city resilience. European cities are facing increasingly frequent and intense hazards and risks as climate change and changing social demographics place their critical infrastructures under increasing pressure. Sharing good practices can help them plan ahead for known and unknown shocks and stresses.

As part of the SMR project, three so-called “Tier 1” cities, Glasgow (UK), Kristiansand (Norway) and Donostia/San Sebastian (Spain), have co-developed a suite of tools to support them and other cities in planning, budgeting and identifying replicable policies towards their resilience goals. A second group of “Tier 2” cities, Bristol (UK), Riga (Latvia), Rome (Italy) and Vejle (Denmark), has been closely observing and providing feedback on this process.

At the one-day Stakeholder Dialogue, these cities will share their knowledge of these tools and contextualise them in terms of real policies to a new group of “Tier 3” cities including Amman (Jordan), Athens (Greece), Greater Manchester (UK), Malaga (Spain), Malmö (Sweden), Reykjavik (Iceland), Stirling (UK) and Thessaloniki (Greece). The event will be officially opened by the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris.

Research as part of SMR has found that cities and their critical infrastructure are interdependent, and that cities can help further boost their own resilience by supporting and fostering resilience in other cities. SMR is supporting the potential for replication by working towards international standards in city resilience management.

The first CEN workshop initiated by SMR, spearheaded by German standardisation organisation DIN, CEN WS/88 - Functional Specification for a Resilience Information Portal is underway. Two further envisaged CEN Workshop Agreements, City Resilience Development - Maturity Model and City Resilience Development - Operational Guidance, will kick off in Thessaloniki on 8 November, following the Stakeholder Dialogue. To join the standardization processes, please contact rene.lindner@din.de.

For further information, visit the project website.
SMR NEWS

Stakeholders in Donostia/San Sebastian, Glasgow and Kristiansand receive training on the City Dynamics Model and Resilience Building Policies tool

4 October 2017

The Smart Mature Resilience project is undergoing an intensive training period, where local stakeholders in the core cities of Donostia/San Sebastian, Glasgow and Kristiansand are receiving in-depth training on how to use the latest tools developed by the project; the Resilience Building Policies Tool and the City Dynamics Model. Two stakeholder training workshops took place in Glasgow and in Kristiansand. Local stakeholders received training on how to use the City Dynamics Model (previously referred to as the System Dynamics Model), which supports the already available Resilience Maturity Model.

The City Dynamics Model helps users, specifically municipal employees and elected officials involved in strategic planning and city management, better understand the main elements of the resilience building process in their city. It helps them prioritize the most urgent policies they should implement in order for their city to build resilience and guides them in planning relevant activities at a local level. During the training session in Glasgow, the participants worked on a flood scenario, to identify the best policies to improve preparedness and critical infrastructure performance and to better anticipate future water management challenges. In Kristiansand, the case study focused on some of the aspects of the recently developed and adapted Kristiansand Action Plan, and more specifically on the policies that would advance urban, green growth in the Nordic port city.

Following the trainings, webinars will be held, where the Tier 2 cities of Rome, Riga and Vejle will be briefed on the training activities and results from the implementing cities, the tool developers of TECNUN, University of Navarra, CIEM Center for Integrated Emergency Management, University of Agder and co-creation partner ICLEI Europe, and will ask questions and provide feedback on the results. The SMR partner cities are also preparing to take over a mentoring role for the upcoming final pilot implementation of the project, where a new Tier 3 group of cities will join them in resilience building activities. The City Dynamics Model will be available on the SMR website at the beginning of November 2017.
RELATED NEWS

City of Bratislava exchanges with Reykjavik's Experts on Climate Change Adaptation in Iceland

2 October 2017

The capital city of Bratislava participated in the 8th international conference of the Society for Disaster Risk Management "Dimensions of Disaster Risk Reduction and Society Resilience in a Complex World" which took place on 23-25 August, in Reykjavík (Iceland). In addition to the conference, the Office of the Chief Architect represented the RESIN project in a visit the City Hall of Reykjavík in order to meet the city's experts for climate change adaptation, whom they first met during the 1st Knowledge Transfer Workshop organised by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability in Bratislava on 12-13 June 2017.

Among the main topics of the conference were the increase in natural disasters due to climate change such as drought, floods, forest fires and overheating of the urban environment, which also resonate with Central Europe and Bratislava. The city of Bratislava presented outputs from several projects that are related to climate change risk. One of the contributions focused on Bratislava´s experience in the RESIN project, which was prepared together with Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UK in Bratislava and Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems in Germany. The aim was to provide insight on how tools for reducing climate change risks and impacts are developed by researchers and later tested and used by the four city partners in the project. In Bratislava city, these tools are tested and in order to be finally used in urban planning, adaptation planning and decision making, which is in the project referred to as the process of co-creation. The presentation summed up the lessons learned from RESIN and from practical work on the side of implementation of blue and green adaptation measures. The take-home message for Bratislava from this conference is that adaptation planning goes beyond building green and blue infrastructure and should also encompass the planning of preparedness for climate change hazards and minimising the risk they impose for health of citizens but also damage or loss to property, with a special focus on awareness raising and communication in risk management.

Thanks to the cooperation as part of the RESIN project among 1-tier and 2-tier cities, it was possible to meet the representatives of Reykjavík City hall, who also participated in the 1st Knowledge Transfer Workshop and exchange experience with the implementation of adaptation measures in a dynamically changing urban environment that has to withstand the adverse impacts of climate change, such as heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events. In Reykjavik, this problem is solved by diverting water from roads and other impermeable areas to areas that are covered with vegetation or wetlands. Despite the fact that Iceland uses almost exclusively renewable energy (geothermal and water) to meet its energy needs, Reykjavik plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also by revitalizing wetlands and urban greenery, including its woody component, which can absorb most greenhouse gases. An example of such a wetland is the Vatnsmýrin, which was revitalized on the territory of the city near the University of Iceland and includes an educational walkway that brings its significance closer to visitors and residents of the city.

Like Reykjavik, the capital city of Bratislava is balancing the need for urban development and densification with pleasant and safe urban environment for living. For Bratislava, this mostly concerns reintroducing green areas into the city, which would make the city's microclimate more pleasant during heatwaves and help prevent damage after extremely heavy rainfall. Pilot projects of such adaptation measures have been carried out within the framework of the "Bratislava is preparing for climate change" project, financed by the EEA grants and Norways Grants (project duration 2014-2017).

"Bratislava has had an active approach in adaption to climate change and protecting drinking water resources. Through the presentation of individual projects, it will be possible to continue to cooperate in the future and to establish contacts with foreign partners in implementing concrete measures to increase the adaptation of cities to climate change," said Ingrid Konrad, Chief Architect, City of Bratislava.
SMR NEWS

Strathclyde team wins ‘best presentation’ award

29 September 2017

Strath-Wide was a one-day conference which aimed to bring together researchers from all disciplines to share their research and find out what other researchers are doing across the University. The plenary talk was given by Professor Gerardo Adesso from the University of Nottingham about his own research path and experience of difficulties turned into successes. Additionally, there was opportunities to network with other research staff, keynote talks by invited members of University staff and prizes for the best presentations.

Abstracts were accepted for oral or poster presentations and grouped according to the University’s new strategic themes and awards were presented for each theme plus a poster prize at the conclusion of the conference. The Smart Mature Resilience team was awarded under the "Society and Policy" topical areas.

The presentation was authored by Igor Pyrko, Susan Howick, and Colin Eden, and it was titled ‘Smart Mature Resilience’ – in this presentation we described the aims of the project, whilst focussing in particular on the construction of the Risk Systemicity Questionnaire. The presentation was awarded as part of the ‘Policy and Society’ strategic theme of the University of Strathclyde.
SMR NEWS

Standardizing resilience: two new CEN workshops will kick off in Thessaloniki in November

25 September 2017

Resilience depends on cooperation between cities, communities and regions and strengthening collaboration and cross-sectoral cooperation. Institutional and cultural differences can create barriers and impediments to holistic cooperation between departments in different municipalities.

The SMR project is undertaking preparatory work towards standardization to address these challenges. CEN workshop 88 is already underway, which establishes functional specifications for a Resilience Information Portal.

On 8th November 2017, two further CEN workshops will be kicked off, focusing on standardized approaches to resilience strategy and management. The CEN Workshop on 'City Resilience Development - Operational Guidance will develop a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), which will define an operational framework that provides guidance and aims at training and supporting municipalities and their stakeholders. More information is available on the SMR website.

The CEN Workshop on 'City Resilience Development - Maturity Model' will develop a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) defining a framework to show the ideal path in the resilience building process of a city. This framework will be based on maturity stages a city should go through. The standard is targeted to policy and decision makers at city level and councilors working for resilience in their city, as well as to any other city stakeholders working on resilience (e.g. critical infrastructure providers, emergency services, citizens, media, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions). To participate in the standardization processes, please contact To join the standardization processes, please contact rene.lindner@din.de. More information is available on the SMR website.
SMR NEWS

Strathclyde team wins Springer Best Paper Award at Stuttgart Group Decision and Negotiation conference

4 September 2017

The Smart Mature Resilience team from the University of Strathclyde was awarded "Best Paper" at the Group Decision and Negotiation conference in Stuttgart from 14-18 August 2017, a major international management science and group decision conference. The awarded paper was authored by Colin Eden, Igor Pyrko, and Susan Howick and is entitled ‘Knowledge Acquisition Using Group Support Systems’. The paper describes the work undertaken to gather data for the construction of the Risk Systemicity Quesionnaire (RSQ) as part of the SMR project, which involved a new approach for using a Group Support System for research.

The paper reports on the use of a Group Support System (GSS) to acquire vast knowledge from city participants in seven European cities with respect to the interactions between risk events faced by the cities. Data collection took part during three workshops conducted as part of the Smart Mature Resilience project funded by the H2020 programme, and it was concerned with topics related to critical infrastructure, social dynamics, and climate change. The aim of data collection was to inform the construction of a Risk Systemicity Questionnaire (RSQ) which is an interactive tool designed to support cities in improving their resilience.

A series of GSS workshops was organized in which participants co-created the risk scenarios that formed the main content of the tool. While GSS have been previously used successfully to improve the productivity of team meetings, its use for acquisition of vast knowledge is under-researched. This paper presents an approach to using a GSS to inform specific research questions rather than to develop new solutions which participants can take ownership of and implement immediately in their work. In turn, the use of GSS in such non-traditional context poses a number of important methodological considerations of which GSS facilitators should be aware.

Firstly, the GSS provides an advantage of acquiring vast knowledge efficiently and significantly quicker than gaining evidence from literature. It may be argued that evidence from literature provides more accurate data, however, the GSS data can be validated incrementally as the data is analysed and used. Secondly, when GSS is applied to acquire vast knowledge in a relatively short amount of time, unlike traditional uses of the GSS, there is a tension between speed and efficiency and building group ownership versus validation of the knowledge acquired. However, when busy experts are involved, efficient knowledge acquisition may be the only realistic approach for conducting the research. And thirdly, this paper presents an argument that experts’ collaboration and communication within a GSS-facilitated workshop can be a more effective way of preparation for future risks rather than exclusively relying on past events.

The full paper is available in the conference proceedings on the GDN website.
SMR NEWS

Launch of SMR Tier 3 in Thessaloniki, Greece

24 August 2017

Three new cities: Reykjavik (Iceland), Malaga (Spain)and Stirling (United Kingdom) have joined the Smart Mature Resilience project's Tier 3. These cities will be the first project-external cities to receive tailored access to the project's five tools: the Maturity Model, Risk Systemicity Questionnaire, Resilience Information Portal, Policy Tool and Simulation Model.

The first in-person meeting of the new project cities (further cities to be announced) with the SMR project cities will take place on 7th November in Thessaloniki, Greece. Registration for this event has now opened and more information is available at http://smr-project.eu/news/events/?c=search&uid=19d972c8.
SMR NEWS

Second joint resilience newsletter

1 August 2017

The second collaborative newsletter between European projects working on resilience is out now! In this issue: 1) Smart Mature Resilience Project: Online Maturity Model launched, 2) DARWIN Project: Join the DARWIN Community of Practitioners, 3) RESILENS Project: Realising European Resilience for Critical Infrastructure, 4) Improver Project: Register now for our next workshop on the 21st September, 5) SMR invites cities to Thessaloniki workshop on strategic resilience planning, 6) Smart Mature Resilience project: Hear from the SMR cities.

To read the newsletter, click here.

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed

CONTACT

  Email

 Twitter


 
 LinkedIn

 

 

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 653569.