DD2281 Sharing Cities (H2020)–Public Relations/Communications Support

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
07 November 2018
Decision by: 
Lucy Owen, Interim Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

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.

In January 2018, the Assistant Director of Intelligence approved (under cover of ADD2190) expenditure of up to £50,000 on consultancy services from John Higginson PR (and related exemption from the requirement of the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code to procure such services competitively) to support the GLA in designing and implementing a Marketing Strategy to ensure the Sharing Cities (H2020) programme has an optimal impact on the smart city market place in order to achieve its strategic aims of scale up and replication. They were also engaged to provide ongoing PR and marketing support to the London part of the programme.

While a Marketing Officer has now been appointed to take on management of marketing and PR for the programme, there is a period of time between appointment of the officer and having them operating at full capacity. We therefore wish to extend the contract of the Higginson PR for a period of three months at an additional cost of £9,000 (total spend £59,000). During this time, they will continue to provide PR and marketing support to the GLA’s Sharing Cities Programme Management Office (PMO) at a crucial time of the programme, supporting and training the new Marketing Officer to assume the role fully from 2019 and refining the marketing products for the programme, as well as continuing to develop high quality written pieces.


That the Executive Director of Communities and Intelligence approves the:

1. Variation of the GLA’s contract with John Higginson PR for consultancy services to continue to support the GLA in implementing a communications strategy to disseminate the results of the Sharing Cities programme and related expenditure of an additional £9,000; and

2. Continued application of a related exemption from the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code in order that the above services may continue without a competitive exercise.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

In September 2015, the European Commission (EC) awarded the GLA and a consortium of 34 European partners a €25 million grant 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.

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.

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.

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 charging; 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.

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.

In January 2018, the Assistant Director of Intelligence approved (under cover of ADD2190) expenditure of up to £50,000 to commission John Higginson PR (and a related exemption from the requirement of the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code to procure such services competitively) to support the GLA in designing and implementing a marketing strategy to disseminate the results of the programme, promote the programme to the smart city market place and engage stakeholders. The services provided throughout 2018 have been very effective in raising the profile of the programme.

There is no intention to continue with the services of Higginson PR until the end of the programme (December 2020), instead a Marketing Officer has been recruited (start date 16/10/2018) to provide in-house marketing capacity. Due to various reasons the recruitment of that marketing officer was delayed and to ensure there is no loss of momentum at this critical stage there is a requirement to extend the service of Higginson PR Limited for a maximum period of three months. This will allow the PMO to continue to deliver 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. It will also allow for Higginson PR to train and support the new Marketing Officer in taking on this ambitious role.

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

Marketing Officer training and support
• Train the officer in the use of the Sharing Cities media toolkit and marketing tools
• Support the officer in the development of their first press releases / though pieces
• Co-produce an updated marketing plan

Strategic Marketing 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

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. However, Section 10 provides 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, as stated in ADD2190, John 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 and provide an effective handover to the GLA’s newly appointed Marketing Officer.

Higginson PR Limited will continue to 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.

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

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.
• Support the new Marketing Officer
• 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

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.

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

The additional expenditure of £9,000 will be funded from the 2018-19 H2020 Programme budget within the Intelligence Unit, where a full reimbursement of costs will be submitted and reclaimed from the European Commission (EC).

Activity table



Procurement of contract


 Sharing Cities Investor Summit


Contract End Date


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