Smart Cities & Sport Summit 2016

From October 10 till 12, the Olympic capital of Lausanne was hosting the Smart Cities & Sport Summit, an inspirational event offering valuable insights for Victoris’ activities on bridging the gap between sports and cities.

Bill Morris – expert advisor IOC – and Gregoire Junod – Mayor of Lausanne – kicked off the conference and stressed the importance of promoting physical activity and the role of cities in facilitating active living in their urban environment, i.e., a city is responsible for the health of its citizens. “Sports lead to meaningful and positive changes in cities, and it is important to focus on all of its dimensions.

In the first session on sports and health,  Dr. Agis Tsouros focused on impact of Olympics in cities and the role of cities in promoting active lifestyles. He referred several times to his book – Mass gatherings and public health – which explains these topics in a more detailed way.

Active living is important for all ages, but it is especially important to the healthy development of children and young people, and can make substantial difference to the well-being of elderly people.

We need to create supportive environments and healthy settings, healthy choices should be easy choices, and we should empower individuals and communities to reduce sedentary behaviors!

Next, Fazilah Bazari and Governor Powes Parkop presented how “Walk & Yoga for life” helped to transform Port Moresby into an active city. In their very inspirational talk on participation vs. performance they discussed how they used sports and active living strategies to bring empowerment and transformation to the people of Port Moresby. It is important to incorporate “values” into sports and to provide free for all fun and healthy activity. “Access for all and all are welcome to join!” Everyone can participate and no focus on who’s the best.

A similar story was told by Horacio de la Vega, General Director at Mexico City Sports Institute. He presented the Cicloton program which helped in transforming Mexico City in an Active City. 80.000 people get active every Sunday.

In the “Masterclass – How to define, measure and communicate success as a sport city?”, Prof. Mikkel Draebye (Strategy and Entrepreneurship Professor, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan) discussed different tools cities can use to assess the impact of hosting sporting events and to communicate such impacts to various stakeholders.

Performance goals and measurements (KPIs) are getting more and more common in the strategic sports planning of cities. Success is based on luck, superior resources and/or strategic thinking. The latter one, i.e., smart thinking/strategy, will be the most successful on the long term > setting clear goals, understand the market/stakeholder environment, assess and understand your resources, develop a strategy and get it executed.

Related to the Masterclass, Jennifer Hawkins (executive director sports development) of Pittsburgh discussed objectives for hosting big events, i.e., increased economic development, positive (inter)national awareness and new community initiatives that can arise from the events. In the same session, Edel Mitchell from Event Ireland (National Tourism Dev. Authority – Failte Ireland) shared her expertise on bidding and securing international events for Ireland. Research is key in pre- and post-event analysis. The latter, however, is sometimes forgotten. A similar remark on the importance of gathering data for post event evaluation is made by Tom Dielen (World Archery). Not all impact is (directly) measurable!

In the session on “sport and social integration: opportunities, comments and conditions” Dr. Koen Breedveld focused on large movements of population because of international crisis, globalization and urbanization and how cities can use sport to integrate its new inhabitants. Sport has the power to change the world and it helps in “informal learning” of norms and values, traditions, rules, social and other skills. As an example he discussed the Cruyff foundation:

“The Cruyff foundation program has the intention that participating youth become a role model for their community and remain involved and connected to the Cruyff Court in the short- and long-term. The uniqueness of this program is that older youth (14+) organizes sport & game activities for children (10 – 12 yrs) and therewith get the opportunity to discover their talents, to develop themselves and to do something that challenges them in various ways.”

The Smart Cities & Sport Summit ended with sessions on “Aligning your city’s brand with international sporting events: risk or opportunity?” and “Opportunities for Cities”, a special session organized by the International Olympic Committee. In general, it was an interesting, inspirational two-day event – not so much about research, but about how cities and sport can (and should) go hand in hand.

Prof. dr. Steven Verstockt (IDLab, ELIS department, UGent – imec)

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