Trust cannot be centralised, it must be embedded in everything you do. This is how social media can help cities create change in a post-truth era says Eddy Adams

Eddy reflects on his experience of working globally with cities in order to develop creative solutions for complex problems. He will co-facilitate the Digital Identities workshop in Amsterdam on 16 March.

Eddy Adams

Hi Eddy, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m interested in cities and innovation. I work with international networks such as the European exchange and learning programme URBACT, which promotes sustainable urban development. Much of this work is about supporting peer-to-peer learning between cities. In this context, I see myself as a facilitator of relationships.

What are some of the key challenges that cities face?
Where do I start? The dramatic demographic shift, rising proportions of older people and its implications on housing, health and care. Many European cities are getting to grips with the arrival of third country nationals from troubled parts of the world. Meanwhile, there is an expectation for public services to be available 24x7. There’s also pressure on civil servants to be more accessible. All in all, it’s a tall order.

“Cities should harness the power of social media to talk about complex issues that require citizen buy-in, such as migration, environment and employment… these channels can be manipulated and trolled, but they are the most direct way to build trusted relationships with citizens.”

What do you mean by trusted relationships?
Trust as a macro concept is no longer relevant. We have to look at places where relationships can be rebuilt. I believe the most appropriate level is the local one, where you can have that face-to-face connection and create a sense of rootedness and democratic accountability, which seems to be missing at the present moment. Social media can have a powerful impact by build a network of hyperlocal relationships to mobilise citizens as decision makers. Such networks can be scaled across a city.

“Digital resources, when used tactically, can help you get things faster and engage people in precise ways.”

Could you give us a few examples of where this works in practice?
In Finland we examined the Ohjaamo integrated support centres for young people. The centres were co-designed with young people and the service combined face-to-face support with active outreach activity and extensive use of social media. The latter two are especially important in reaching customers who are harder to connect with. Genova is using social media to get Erasmus students to promote the city via social media, and Semaest in Paris is working in innovative new ways to promote business start ups.

‘It isn’t one person’s job to be social. Trust cannot be centralised. Cities have to invest and develop capacity for all staff to engage with social media.’

Eddy Adams and Abhay Adhikari will co-facilitate the Digital Identities workshop in Amsterdam on 16 March. They will be joined by Cori Moore who will run a Lego Serious Play taster. General admission is now sold out. We have a few places remaining for URBACT cities. Click here more information.



I am interested in the context & values of our Digital Identities.

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Abhay Adhikari

I am interested in the context & values of our Digital Identities.