ADD2190 Sharing Cities (H2020) – Public Relations

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
31 January 2018
Decision by: 
Andrew Collinge, Assistant Director of Intelligence

Executive summary

The Mayor approved (under cover of MD1574) the GLA’s receipt of a grant award of €24,988,759 (€2.4m of funding was awarded for specific GLA activities) from the European Commission on behalf of the GLA-coordinated ‘Sharing Cities’ consortium. The MD also approved expenditure at a high-level for the period January 2016 to January 2020 for the GLA’s coordination and delivery of the ‘Sharing Cities’ programme. 

To support the GLA’s Sharing Cities Programme Management Office (PMO) to disseminate and exploit the results of the Programme, the PMO are seeking to engage a public relations company with international reach. The organisation will support the PMO to design and implement a communication strategy and engage key stakeholders (investors, policy makers and citizens) to strengthen the scale up and replication ambitions of the programme.   


The Assistant Director of Intelligence approves:

•    expenditure of up to £50,000 (on a measurement basis) on consultancy services (provided by John Higginson PR) to support the GLA in designing and implementing a communications strategy to disseminate the results of the programme and engage stakeholders.
•    a related exemption from the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code in order that the above services be commissioned without procuring competitively. 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    In September 2015, the European Commission (EC) awarded the GLA and a consortium of 34 European partners a grant award to deliver the Horizon 2020 (H2020) Smart Cities and Communities” Lighthouse Project” programme. This five-year programme supports the implementation and integration of very near-to-market smart city technologies and systems, to maximise their benefit in demonstrator areas and prove their replicability across wider city environments. 

1.2    The project aims to develop, deploy and integrate replicable solutions in the energy, transport, data and ICT sectors in each of the three lead cities of London, Milan, and Lisbon. A further three ‘follower’ cities - Burgas, Bordeaux and Warsaw are actively involved with the three lead cities to validate city service designs and implement a number of specific solutions.

1.3    A total of €24,988,759 has been awarded by the European Commission to the GLA on behalf of the consortium with €2.4m of funding allocated for specific GLA activities, €2.7m to the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) and €1.3m to other London partners. Expenditure of the funding was approved by the Mayor under cover of MD1574. This paper provides further clarity on the element of that expenditure required to meet the programme’s PR needs.     

1.4    The programme aims to implement a number of measures in each of the ‘lighthouse’ cities. These include:

•    Smart Lampposts – integrated smart lighting with other smart service infrastructures (eV charge; smart parking; traffic sensing; flow data; WiFi etc). 
•    Shared eMobility – a portfolio of inter-connected initiatives supporting the shift to low carbon shared mobility solutions, specifically: eV Car-Sharing; e-Bikes; eV Charging; Smart Parking; eLogistics.
•    Integrated Energy Management System – system to integrate and optimise energy from all sources in districts (and interface with city-wide system); including demand response measures.
•    Urban Sharing Platform (USP) – a data platform to manage data from a wide range of sources including sensors as well as traditional statistics; built using common principles, open technologies and standards.

1.5    Following implementation in the programme’s demonstration areas, to support the programme’s scale up and replication ambitions, the programme will aim to: 
•    Develop a series of fundable business models to ensure that the measures delivered across the demonstrators can become sustainable, financially viable and scalable propositions across the full range of European cities. 
•    Trigger €500m European Smart Cities Investment to accelerate exploitation of common integrated smart city solutions. 
•    Establish Smart City Investment Funds in 3 of the principal cities 
•    Boost scale-up businesses to support the ‘jobs and growth’ agenda (locally)
Key to realising these ambitions is a targeted communications strategy which disseminates and exploits the results of the programme to stakeholders such as investors, policy makers and citizens. 

1.6    The GLA has been working with Higginson PR Limited on a number of communication events and tools since March 2017. The expectation was that the total services commissioned would not exceed £10,000 and therefore a single supplier was selected. This strategy was very effective in raising the profile of the programme and the development of tools such as a media toolkit, a how to guide and a dynamic events timeline that have all enabled the programme to feature in key publications. The programme has featured in publications like the Sunday Telegraph, The National Geographic’s Geographical magazine and the New Statesman’s City Metric, New European Economy, Intelligent Transport and The European. The combined readership of publications that have featured the programme in September and October 2017 alone was 226,000. 

1.7    To capitalise on this and maintain momentum in the final year of delivery, there is a requirement to extend the service of Higginson PR Limited to the end of the delivery phase of the Programme. The next six months will focus on a longer-term strategy and utilising a Dynamic Events Timeline to identify trends throughout the year. This will involve targeted marketing that will deliver programme messages to specific audiences at certain times of the year, supporting the programme’s scale up and replication ambitions. The table below shows the current and expected expenditure profile. However, the use of budget for future commissioning (£21,500) will be dependent on the outcome of a review of the service, impact and the programme’s PR needs. Whilst therefore, provision of this amount needs to be made, it is not committed and will only be used to commission further work at the sole discretion of the GLA.     


Spend to date

Expected cost for November 2017 - January 2018 Activity

Budget for future commissioning (if required)








1.8 Higginson PR Limited will deliver up to 4 days a month of support and will provide the following services: 

    Strategic Communications Planning
•    Designing and leading a strategic communication workshop for senior team 
•    Working with stakeholder to identify long-term communications goals 
•    Creating a six-month strategic communications plan 
•    Designing tactics to fit within the strategic communications plan 
•    Creating a six-month tactics timeline 
Newsrooms Support
•    Press release writing 
•    Press release sell-in 
•    Story to finalisation support 
•    Coverage book creation 
Thought Leadership 
•    Horizon scanning 
•    Leadership support Thought leadership funnelling 
•    Comment piece drafting 
•    Comment piece sell in 
•    Publication chasing 

1.9    Officers acknowledge that section 9 of the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code requires, where the expected value of a contract for services is between £10,000 and £150,000, that the services required should be procured competitively. Section 10 provides however, that an exemption from this requirement may be approved where a supplier has had previous involvement in a specific current project or the where the work proposed is a continuation of existing work, which cannot be separated from the new work. To this end, Higginson PR Limited have previous involvement on the programme on small scale PR and media training activities and their expertise and knowledge of Sharing Cities is beneficial to the programme, particularly in terms of the tight timescales the Programme is operating on. Their appointment would allow the continuation of media activity with no delay or halting of activity.

1.10  Higginson PR Limited will deliver up to 4 days a month of support which will consist of a minimum of two PR consultants being assigned to support the programme. Each consultant will work to support the replication and scale up ambitions of the programme to help achieve the programme objective of raising €500m of European Smart Cities Investment.  The support provided to date has significantly raised the profile of the programme and initial discussions with investors have already taken place. 

1.11 Furthermore, the daily rates being charged by Higginson PR Limited for each of their consultants is comparable with the industry average. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     The procurement of these services will allow the GLA to:

•    Develop a strong marketing strategy that allows partners to plan communications in such a way that help our strategic aims of scale up and leveraged investment. 
•    Provide the PMO with a responsive and bespoke marketing services that can react to ever changing events in real time.
•    Provide industry and private sector communications expertise. 
•    Access to a range of publications across Europe
•    Ensure high quality press releases and thought pieces that have the desired impact.
•    Provide media support to all partners. 
•    Gain a better understanding of media sources that need to be targeted by the programme
•    Better national and international coverage and exposure of the Programme’s key results, supporting the Programme’s scale up and replication aims and assisting in the triggering of investment funds. 

Equality comments

3.1    The programme’s aims of introducing innovations in technology and improving the use of data are presenting new ways of meeting peoples' needs in urban landscapes. These technologies have the potential to transform the efficiency of city operations; city-level decision making; and the relationships with people and businesses to improve sustainability; while at the same time addressing resource pressures faced by communities and authorities.

3.2    An increased emphasis on technological solutions can have positive impacts on people with protected characteristics. Green buildings and improved infrastructure will cut carbon emissions, and alongside information about NOx emissions will improve health outcomes for Londoners. Smart-parking, self-driving cars and e-bike services can specifically support people with certain disabilities, while access to shared vehicles can increase mobility for those on low incomes. The programme has dedicated work packages for communication and engagement to ensure that people from all age groups and ethnic backgrounds are not excluded from participating in these opportunities. The work of Higginson PR will strengthen the programme’s communication. 

Other considerations

a)    Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities
The project directly contributes to the delivery of the Mayor’s key strategic objectives of the London Smart plan which aims to solve London’s environment challenges by bringing together people, technology and data.

b)    Impact assessments and Consultation
TfL Procurement have been consulted in the development of this proposal and have approved the exemption from the GLA Contracts and Funding Code. 

The Communications Team would be unable to carry out the activities to the scale required due to operational capacity.  Furthermore, Sharing Cities is a partnership of 35 organisations (private, public and academic) from across Europe and Higginson PR Limited will be providing marketing support (at a partner’s own expense) for these partners when needed. 

c)    Risk
Insufficient exposure to a broad international audience is a key risk to the scale up ambitions of this Programme. The technology the Programme is contracted to deliver has started to be implemented in the Lighthouse Cities and in the final year of delivery where the scale up ambitions of the Programme must be met. A defined communications strategy is integral to the successful of the Programme and any delays in the appointment of this service may have a detrimental effect. 

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure up to £50,000 on consultancy services. 

5.2    This expenditure will be funded from the 2017-18 H2020 programme budget within the Intelligence Unit, where a full reimbursement of costs will be submitted and reclaimed from the European Commission (EC). 

Planned delivery approach and next steps




Start of contract

January 2018

Programme Delivery End Date

31 December 2018

End of contract with Higginson PR Limited

31 December 2018

Start of Programme’s monitoring and evaluation stage

01 January 2019


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