The seven implementation challenges outlined below are analysed periodically. For each challenge, a critical analysis has been made based on previous reporting. Following a reader friendly approach, the intensity of the challenge on the implementation period is presented supported by a traffic light system where red colour indicates the more relevance of the challenge during the period.
A committed and constant leadership is essential for any municipal innovation.
During this period, EPIU project has evolved in leadership, there has been a swing in the way the implementation is leaded.
A consortium that swings to keep leadership
During this period, some organizational complexities have arisen. The project had been understood as a whole, and it was difficult to deal with the big challenge of energy poverty in Getafe. Constant consortium meetings and a feeling of a general blocking forced a new organizational model. The new controlling model is based on the “divide and prioritize” principle and tasks have been regrouped in three areas: data, energy poverty office and public procurement. New leaders have been designed and smaller and more approachable and doable tasks have been broken down with the aim of reducing procrastination and avoid deferring tasks.
Although this change responds to management issues, it shows a committed leadership from the consortium side as the team has been able to identify what was slowing down the implementation and has stablished new rules to continue with a good tone.
EPIU consortium has proved to be flexible and not a rigid structure that reacts to improve the implementation of the project.
Local government bottom-up leadership
During the first year of EPIU, there was an important top-down leadership coming from the local government. Even the Mayor of Getafe was directly involved in decisions affecting EPIU.
During this second year there is still a push coming from the highest levels of the government. However, new leadership is arising at local level.
From one side, there has been a more intense participation from different areas in the municipality such as social services or Human Resources. From the other side, a reinforcement in the capacity of EPIU unit with new employees and studies show potential incorporations in the data and IT sections, has let the project to start sowing a bottom-up leadership coming from the direct participants from the municipality.
A legitimated leadership, a permanent challenge.
This is a permanent challenge as the right and acceptance of a leadership needs to be constantly validated at all levels and all statements of the city. During this period new leaderships have emerged as stated above. However, it is a constant challenge that need special attention.
3.2 Public procurement
UIA projects will all tender contracts and procure services during the implementation phase. In the previous reporting period EPIU’s project was not under the implementation stage yet so it was not identified as a major challenge. This has changed in the past months as the project is entering the operational phase and this is one of the most important claims within this period.
One of the risks previously identified was on the demand side. Implementing works at households, dwelling and neighborhood levels engaging people suffering a situation of vulnerability is complex. What if potential beneficiaries are not interested in the tailored measures? From discomfort caused by renovation works to tax complexities in case of receiving public grants are some of the reasons that may jeopardize the demand of the procured services and products.
Lean methodology as inspiration for public procurement
EPIU team is addressing the challenge with the same approach and tools as other challenges in the project: implementing Lean methodology as the build-measure-learn feedback loop. In the case of public procurement this is translated into a minimum viable public procurement procedure to learn as quick as possible and adapt the final product to real conditions.
In real terms, this means that instead of two similar Grant’s Call to implement measures at household level, there is going to be a first “minimum viable grant call” targeting only 20 beneficiaries in order to learn and adapt the final Call with more beneficiaries to reduce risks. This methodology is used in private companies and their products, but it is transferrable to public services. From Minimum Viable Policies to Minimum Viable Public Procurement, public sectors and in this case, local governments, can take advantage from the experience at private level.
This is an innovation in terms of public procurement that can be transferred at different levels if it works. Although it is soon to assess the impact of this methodology it is a coherent measure in line with the project.
3.3 Organizational arrangements within the urban authority (cross-department group)
Energy poverty is a transversal social priority that affects different departments such as social services, housing, consumer protection, health, or emergency departments. Combining and coordinating these different areas are essential to effectively implement EIPU’s integrated approach.
Getafe’s units and departments work quite isolated and there is not a regular transversal culture so this is one of the most relevant challenges that EPIU will face. However, there are differences within periods.
EPIU has gained legitimacy after constituting PIOHS (Healthy households’ Office point of advice)/OMHS
A lot of contacts have been made with departments since the beginning of the project. For example, the provision of data related to energy poverty, needed from specific departments of the municipality, was difficult at an initial stage. Within this reporting period EPIU set up the PIOHS (Healthy households’ Office point of advice) that will become the Healthy households’ Office in the coming weeks. This new service has changed the relation with the different departments as it is seen as an internal area of the municipal services. EPIU is not seen as an external project anymore but as an internal service thanks to the launch of the office and as an entity OMHS has started making links and stablish relations with other departments.
3.4 Participative approach for co-implementation
Covid crisis has transformed the level of importance of this challenge in EPIU project as during the design phase, the participative approach for co-implementation was no foreseen as a key challenge. However, the global crisis derived from Covid-19, affected all spheres of life. Getafe is a rich municipality in terms of community networks and active neighborhoods, but lockdowns and confinements did not help in the previous period.
Use of existing city participatory channels
All activities interrupted by COVID have been progressively reactivated. Furthermore, EPIU has started using existing city participatory channels such as the Neighborhoods Assemblies. In collaboration with the internal Getafe’s Department on Action in Neighborhoods and Citizen Services EPIU is carrying out dissemination tasks, such as citizen participation actions at the neighborhood level (6.4 neighborhood actions to mitigate heat island).
This participation in the Neighborhoods Assemblies works bidirectional as not only EPIU is able to make citizens participate in the co-implementation of the project but also acts as a speaker to generate demand for PIOHS and later OHS.
The existence of PIOHS (Healthy households’ Office point of advice)/OHS has promoted participation
The mere existence of a tangible public service helps the way participation is promoted. In the previous project EPIU was a potential project but with no tangible services to offer to citizens which made difficult the interaction with final beneficiaries. Today, the office is opened and offers real service to neighbors which makes easier the interaction.
EPIU’s delivery partners have shown they play a key role in the project’s co-implementation
It was mentioned on the previous reporting period, but the participation of real practitioners in the consortium has proved being an effective way to promote participation. On one side, ACA as an energy poverty practitioner has implemented the PIOHS and has direct contact with EPIU beneficiaries. On the other side, to have a local antenna of Red Cross in the project, as practitioners dealing with people suffering a situation of energy poverty, contribute to EPIU with their expertise on delivering support schemes for vulnerable people. Furthermore, both organizations are supporting the feed of data to university teams such as UPM and UC3M.
3.5 Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation tools are important because only with the evidence of the results, urban authorities will be able to decide whether the tested solution has been effective. UIA projects need clear parameters that will tell urban authorities and local partners whether the experimental solution tested was successful.
In EPIU project, the Monitoring and Evaluation phase has not started yet because result indicators are primarily based on implementation. Therefore, there are no advancements on this stage.
However, the challenge of monitoring and evaluation is a permanent and intense challenge and will need to be approached without delay.
3.6 Communication with target beneficiaries and users
The final aim of any UIA project is to improve the quality of life of citizens. This is of high importance in projects such as EPIU that tackles energy poverty.
Within this period, the challenge has been taken on from different sides:
The experience of PIOHS (Healthy households’ Office point of advice) in the integration of final user in the coming OHS
Since the opening of PIOHS the contact with beneficiaries and users has become direct, constant, and real. Around 70 people have been assessed by the service and first household visits have been already delivered. Data and feelings of the service have been collected which represents valuable information for the design of the coming OHS which will be operative in the coming weeks. To have real information from the user of the service is key to design a more complex office.
EPIU’s general communication focused on people suffering a situation of vulnerability
Until now, EPIU’s communication strategy was designed to make EPIU known at general level so social networks, talks at conferences and press release centered the main communication actions. The challenge is enormous, and communication needs to launch at citizens’ level. Therefore, some specific actions to deliver activities at neighborhood level have been planned from workshops to specific awareness campaigns in 2022.
Communication to hidden energy poverty affected groups
EPIU’s ultimate objective is to identify, and tackle hidden energy poverty. The intelligent Unit will be the main tool to identify these groups. Until June 2022 the predictive model won’t be ready so the challenge of targeting those affected from hidden energy poverty remains pending.
Other actions such as the activation of referrals with different municipal departments will make possible the identification of those suffering a situation of energy poverty
This is not a relevant challenge within this period. EPIU’s adaptation to the unforeseen emergency situation may be of interest in the upscaling process. However, it is soon to evaluate to what extent it will contribute to the identification and management of energy poverty in urban areas.