Incredible confusion was occasioned during the 19th century, when mapmakers were using the Warsaw meridian as a reference for land maps, and the Greenwich meridian for maps of the sea. This chaos was eventually rectified, and in a recent work shadowing visit with Sharing Cities, the two cities continued to serve as an emphasis for the advantages of collaboration for a more coherent world.
Marcin Wróblewski, Chief Specialist at Warsaw’s Infrastructure Department, and Sharing Cities Warsaw lead, travelled to the Royal Borough of Greenwich for a month long work shadowing visit from 3 - 27 September 2017. This was an opportunity for Mr Wróblewski to become part of the Greenwich team, both lending insight from his own context to the operations there, and gaining useful knowledge that he could bring back to Warsaw for local implementation.
As Warsaw has technical expertise in specific smart domains, in particular energy and district heating, and Greenwich has a holistic smart city strategy with specific expertise in digital connectivity and smart mobility, the two municipalities have complementary expertise that offers significant opportunities for knowledge transfer.
In Greenwich, Mr Wróblewski acquired cutting edge knowledge and insights into the UK situation for connected autonomous vehicles. This is particularly relevant in Warsaw, where there is currently a major shift towards electric public transport. He gained understanding of how such technologies offer a way to shift to lower emission and shared transport modes.
The advantages of such exchanges are not, however, limited to content, but also create structural awareness. Mr Wróblewski was very interested in the working style in Greenwich, especially the high levels of flexibility. He saw the advantages of improving the efficiency of administrative bodies by reducing the quantity of official procedures necessary to experiment or change track. Another important takeaway for him was the manner in which this flexibility allowed Greenwich to achieve dynamic synergies with the private sector.
Sharing is never a one way street, and Greenwich was very pleased to have Mr Wróblewski’s many contributions, especially his input on several of its strategic documents, and his lead in a workshop on packaging solutions together. His part in shaping the London Environment Strategy, Fuel Poverty Action Plan and Solar Action Plan were noted as being especially useful.
A significant regret
Greenwich is enthusiastic to keep up the relationship with Warsaw that this visit significantly strengthened, and plans are already being developed for Greenwich staff to visit Warsaw, furthering the knowledge exchange process.
Overall, Greenwich found having another city perspective when considering how schemes that are being trialled and deployed in Greenwich could be applied elsewhere to be very useful. Greenwich did, however, have one significant regret about the work shadowing programme – they were sorry they couldn’t keep Mr Wróblewski with them for longer!