Report on the City-to-City-Learning Programme:
The Replication Strategy
in Replicate EU-H2020-Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) Lighthouse Project
Dr Igor Calzada, MBA, FeRSA
University of Oxford
“Why May Replication (Not) Be Happening?” is a report published by the European Commission (EC). Its
conclusion is striking: ‘Replication is like a quest for the Holy Grail: Everyone is searching but on one seems
to be able to find it’ (Vandervyvere, 2017, p. 6; IRIS project, Gothenburg, 2019). As such, it seems that the
hypothesis suggested by urban scholar Ayona Datta makes entirely sense regarding the deadlock of
replication panacea in the policy-making of smart cities: ‘The “urban” is not “science”. It cannot be
measured, replicated, and forecast like other sciences. The urban is an imaginary, a relationship between
multiple spaces and scales from the personal to the global, a site of politics and governance. The urban is
much more than “science”’ (2018, p. 1).
Wisely influenced by the research and policy findings conducted by the Urban Transformations ESRC
(Economic and Social Research Council) Programme at the University of Oxford (Calzada & Keith, 2018),
we have anticipated this cleavage between the ‘smart’ policy urgencies and the early-entrepreneurial-
research-discoveries at the beginning of Replicate project to deconstruct the highly-technocratic smart city
policy agenda (Calzada & Cobo, 2015). We initiated methodological advancements that could foster fruitful
learning in and among cities by avoiding (and presumably overcoming) replicability as a techno-
deterministic principle based on so-called solutionism. Not only are (smart) cities not mechanical machines
(Amin & Thrift, 2017; Ratti & Claudel, 2016), but their internal implementations are directly and
proportionally dependent on stakeholders interacting in a unique fashion with a dense set of power
relationships (Calzada, 2018; Calzada & Cowie, 2017; Calzada & Keith, 2018). How should such a complex
task called Replication be approached (European Commission, 2017)?
Back in 2016, we started planting the seed of ‘City-to-City-Learning Programme’ (#City2CityLearning) for
its implementation during 2019 in collaboration with three lighthouse cities (San Sebastian, Florence, and
Bristol) alongside three fellow cities (Essen, Nilüfer, and Lausanne)—replacing the former nomenclature
and the hierarchical position of the follower cities. In doing so, we have intensively encouraged a fertile
dialogue connecting stakeholders—regardless of their lighthouse or fellow city consideration—working
either in one or even sometimes in several smart policy sectors: energy, mobility, and ICT. Furthermore,
this experimental approach has resulted in a productive multidirectional conversation loop among
stakeholders in the six cities. It goes without saying that we have examined the important and unique
related multi-stakeholder framework in each city through the Penta Helix (including actors interacting in the
public, private, civic society, academic, and entrepreneurial/activism domains of cities; Calzada & Cowie,
In the first three years of the project, covering 2016–2018, the three lighthouse cities focused entirely on
their pilot implementations of three smart city sectors (energy, mobility, and ICT). Alongside these
implementations, the WP8 (led by the University of Oxford) suggested reverting the rationale for the
mainstream approach (preliminarily designed by EC policy-makers) stemming from a monodirectional and
mechanic-driven replicability logic. By contrast, the Replicate project has been gradually empowering the
former follower cities (now already officially and institutionally fellow cities; SCIS, 2019) by putting them at
the same level as the lighthouse cities through a multidirectional learning cycle. Until 2019, WP8
Replication carried out fieldwork research alongside the lighthouse cities’ implementations in three fellow
cities for those early three years: (i) to conduct critical factors’ assessment and (ii) to map out the unique
composition of stakeholders by following the Penta Helix policy framework. Thereafter, the City-to-City-
Learning Programme has set the scene to establish a prolific common ground among the six Replicate
cities without any hierarchical or functional distinctions. The stakeholders fostered a shared participatory
agora and a co-operative platform directly among Replicate stakeholders (regardless of their city of
reference). Funnily thus, and most importantly, the Replicate project curated and warmed-up this
programme with the active participation of the representative and strategic stakeholders of the six Replicate
cities by experimenting alternatively the complex task of replication through a multi-directional learning
loop stemming from an open innovation approach.
Ultimately, this programme was designed to assist fellow cities in formulating their own replication plans.
Judging from the successful experience and objective results—more than 150 registered participants and
almost 300 offline views—we firmly believe this is worth further exploration by the EC new Horizon Europe
Framework Programme: how to develop new forms of policy incentives for more participatory policy design
as well as monitoring, feedback/assessment, and learning loops that utilise the characteristics of digital
transformations in smart cities among a vast and nuanced democratic representation of stakeholders’
plurality and diversity (DigiTranScope, 2019).
2. POLICY CONTEXT: EU-SCC-H2020-LIGHTHOUSE PROJECTS
According to a preliminary benchmarking’s findings, there are several preliminary take-aways in the
function of replication among smart cities in the Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) H2020 framework
programme (European Commission, 2010):
1. The H2020 institutional framework is based on the rationale that cities achieve more when they
collaborate. The lighthouse projects share technical learning, spread the risk of investing in new
technology, and use their scale to drive down costs through joint procurement. Technologies tested as
part of the H2020 SCC Lighthouse programme can then be implemented on a wider scale at a vastly
reduced cost per unit. Evidence suggests that joint procurement can generate massive cost savings
for cities bold enough to embrace inter-city cooperation. For example, following a 2001 reorganisation
of regional procurement in Austria, city authorities achieved savings of 30% and an administrative
workload reduction of 60% (European Commission, 2017).
2. At present, the 14 Lighthouse projects—Growsmarter, Remourban, Triangulum, Replicate, Sharing
Cities, SmartenCity, Smarter Together, My Smart Life, Ruggedised, IRIS, Matchup, Stardust, Making
City, and CityExchange—involve 46 lighthouse and 70 fellow cities across Europe (SCIS, 2019).
3. Beyond ongoing technical implementations, sooner than later, they might demonstrate the innovative
potential of smart city technologies by allowing citizens to avoid turbulent (and often obscure)
extractivist algorithmic governance practices (Lane, 2019; Lanier, 2018; Van Der Zwan, Van Doorn,
Duivestein, & Pepping, 2018; Wired, 2018). Consequently, local authorities are already experimenting
with various data governance models as a result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),
which took effect in May 2018 (Buttarelli, 2018; Calzada, 2019; European Commission, 2019). The
current European digital economy is increasingly characterised by pervasive processes of datafication
with citizens’ behaviour transformed into bits of information collected by private big companies
4. The future seems to belong to European cities and regions that genuinely embrace agile
methodologies such as the city-to-city learning programme, attempting to fulfil the promise of smart
cities (Calzada, 2018; Coletta, Evans, Heaphy, & Kitchin, 2018). However, new social, institutional,
and political transitions are still required to understand the European city-regions that face new
challenges while avoiding the algorithmic control of big corporations (Gillespie, 2010; Graham, Kitchin,
Mattern, & Shaw, 2019; Zuboff, 2019).
3. FINAL REMARK
Against the general backdrop of the EU lighthouse cities’ challenges in the ongoing H2020 programme,
the way Replication function was designed could have misled several important aspects about how cities
should approach this complex and necessary task to increase the replication potential among European
cities. The following list of methodological is worth considering, subject to work implemented from the
University of Oxford: (i) We researched the singularity of each city (strategic aim and contextual factors)
through the ‘Critical Factors’ Assessment’ methodology, with (ii) scalability depending on the composition
of multistakeholders’ policy scheme, such as their interdependence and power relations (examined through
the Penta Helix policy framework), (iii) adaptability of the given smart action (contrasting feasibility and
potential impact) facilitated through this City-to-City-Learning Programme and, ultimately, (iv) the
replicability after the multidirectional learning loop among stakeholders through each fellow city’s action-
driven formulation, completing their own replication plans tailored by their strategic and operational needs.
Once the programme has come to its end, we have gradually made the content publicly available outside
the Replicate project’s scope. Here you can access to the whole content of the programme in Open Access:
www.replicate-project.eu/city2citylearning. Please share alike through #City2CityLearning and
#ReplicateEU to expand this learning loop beyond Replicate project. We believe you could make the best
of the programme!
Name: Dr Igor Calzada, MBA, FeRSA (www.igorcalzada.com)
Address: 58 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS, UK
University of Oxford
Tel.: +44 7887.661925
Reuse is authorised, provided the source of the document is acknowledged and its original meaning or
message is not distorted. The University of Oxford shall not be liable for any consequence stemming from
the reuse. The analysis stated in this report reflects solely the findings of the author (Dr Igor Calzada) and
his institution (University of Oxford).
How to cite this report:
Calzada, I. (2019), Report on the City-to-City-Learning Programme: The Replication Strategy in Replicate
EU-H2020-Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) Lighthouse Project (Horizon 2020: REPLICATE Project
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