Transparent and consultative city administration (IAS0001)
Action Plan: Iași, Romania Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Iași Municipality through the Compartment for the Promotion of the Economic and Tourism Environment
Support Institution(s): State actors: - Iași Municipality - Alexandru Ioan Cuza University - George Enescu University of Arts - Faculty of Architecture Iasi Association of Management of the Tourist Destination Iasi and the region of Moldova `Destination Iasi` Private actors - Tourism Association Iasi.travel - Branding companies (Wiron, Subsign, Grapefruit)
Policy AreasE-Government, Land Rights & Spatial Planning, Local Commitments, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery
Lead implementing agency/actor: Iași Municipality through the Compartment for the Promotion of the Economic and Tourism Environment
Other stakeholders involved:
State actors: - Iași Municipality - Alexandru Ioan Cuza University - George Enescu University of Arts - Faculty of Architecture Iasi
Association of Management of the Tourist Destination Iasi and the region of Moldova `Destination Iasi`
Private actors - Tourism Association Iasi.travel - Branding companies (Wiron, Subsign, Grapefruit)
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
There is a general low local awareness in regards of public projects and city’s strategies, conducting to several unfortunate effects:
- municipal projects fade from public awareness and the general dynamic of the
city remains little understood by its inhabitants;
- municipal strategies lack their directing power, as they are neither sufficiently
acknowledged in the community, or constantly communicated in terms of progress,
blocakes and next steps
- people of Iași have a negative perspective over their city, themselves, as
locals and the city management
- many civic endeavors coming from either NGOs or common citizens when
prompted with the opportunity-window to contribute to the public agenda, are lacking
sufficient understanding over the issues they try to solve in terms of what has been
done, what solutions were discarded and why etc.
Although public awareness over city projects and plans has never been scientifically
documented in Iasi, it transpires on many different contexts. For one exemple, public
consultations over the local budget are always conducted like they would build up on
ground zero, people being asked to bring suggestions, but are not provided with the
contextual data their suggestions should best be fitted in. Actually, public debates,
which are not effective in harness wide audiences, are the primary sources of
information a citizen could access in order to keep himself up to date with city
development. Although information about them are to be found on municipality
website, they are seldom easy to spot, to understand and to place it into a coherent
During the exercise made to start the OGP process in Iași, most of the participants in
the start-event declared they didn’t know what plans and projects are conducted by
the municipality. Again, during an one year program conducted by CIVICA, a local
NGO for better governance, which was built on the basis of generative politics, more
than 100 citizens proposed public projects they assumed, if selected, to voluntarily
run them under implementation, with the help of local representatives. The program
brought close observations both on what locals would want for their city, and how
they perceive the administrative process for their proposed projects. Lack of
knowledge regarding due time, phases and processes, as well as lack of knowledge
in regards of projects already in place, ran by the municipality, was a constant. Even
more worrisome, when documenting the issue of a specific problem, in order to
shape a clearer path of implementation for a certain project, civic groups were faced with confusion, as it was excessively difficult to connect public strategies and projects with what has been actually done, what is going to happen and what was simply omitted.
To the general low awareness over the public projects, their progress and
predictability, a sharp gap separate variate groups of stakeholders and the public
servants of the city, making even less probably for the citizens to coherently
acknowledge or participate in public projects development and implementation. Coworking between public servants and groups of citizens with different expertise is
neither acknowledged, nor practiced. People know as a general information that if
they have an idea they could bring it in front of the representatives, but the process
lacks clarity and predictability. Experts or experienced citizens in a specific field
reject the costs associated with unclear paths, as they share, like most of the locals,
a distrustful attitude towards the political arena which is perceived as juxtaposed to
what it means to manage a city.
Moreover than not, citizens justify their lack of interest and knowledge in public
projects through their distrust in the managing authorities.
As a moderator factor which weightens the gap between citizens and city
management, the lack of local identity of the city contributes to the persistence of
certain image issues regarding the city, such as:
● a negative perception among the inhabitants regarding their city;
● poor attractiveness of the city for tourists, businesses, academia;
● in the online environment, the emphasis is often placed on negative aspects
regarding the image of the city
● a negative and contested image of local administration.
In order to:
● address the issue of citizens’ unrelatedness to the city projects,
● create space for dialogue between local authorities and different social
categories of people who interact with the city (business, tourism, students, common
citizens and NGOs)
● overpass the distrust that keeps citizens and city management apart
an integrated solution was created, that would foster transparency over public
projects derived from the city strategies and it would facilitate dialogue within a context that would raise minimal citizens’ distrust, while also building the local identity
as an instrument to connect citizens to city plans and progress.
What is the commitment?
The commitment promotes the process of developing a city branding strategy as
an umbrella endeavour to reshape the relation between citizens and their city, by
connecting them to city’s public projects, strategies and plans for the future. Although
the history of city branding accommodates plenty minimal approaches, what we
propose is to use the complex, healthy process of city branding in order to:
● create more transparency at the administrative level,
● a better relatedness of citizens and different stakeholders to specific city
projects, their progress and the plans for the future in fields of their interest,
● while also ensuring the continuity of this specific relation with the city, through
personal integration and internalization, as a core feature of local identity.
A. Consultation, public dialogue and harmonizing different perceptions in search
for meaningful common ground
In order to create a successful city brand, stakeholders targeted at all society levels
need to have a common vision of the brand’s core values and benefits, whilst have
effective relationship that support ideas. This reinforce the idea of community
engagement in the process of creating and implementing the entire project as they
create meaning and legitimise the city brand. This stage implies consistent
consultation and social survey, in order to identify the drivers of meaning among a
community, while also identifying the blockages in building over those drivers. No
predictions are healthy to promote until the actual consultation and thorough
interpretation of results, but just as an exemple, it could be supposed that people of
Iași highly praise the cultural background of the city or the once green scenery.
Conversely, the inhibitors for developing a strong perception over the city, built upon
what they value most, are either lack of projects or lack of knowledge on projects
which support these traits.
B. Assuming to build upon community shared drivers of meaning, by developing
maps of public projects, publishing open data relevant statistics for different targeted
stakeholders or fields of interest (investors, students, tourism agents, researcher etc.) and creating the digital spaces, symbols, narratives and messages that would
facilitate both new interest in city projects, and the ease to communicate them as part
of local identity
The story behind city branding involves, as well, the easiness of communities to
understand what is Iasi, what is the progress of what Iasi want to be and where do all
of us want to arrive in terms of Iasi development. In this case, the addressed issue
refers to become a more transparent city within its own plans and projects so that
communities can understand, involve or communicate the relevant informations upon
the city. That implies shaping a change at both ends: in how and what local
administration publicly communicate to different stakeholders, and in how and what
stakeholders focus upon, in relation to the city.
Many local academics consider brand building so important that, for Iași, it should be
1st priority, offering a fresh start for reshaping the relation with the city. Because
people's perception is everything, and city brand means people's perception, while a
city brand strategy is managed perception of the involved community.
Starting from the small scale of the city until the regional and national context, from
locals to mayors, the approach of engagement will be both vertical (from locals to
future newcomers) and horizontal (from small scale to national context). Therefore,
civic engagement in the creation and communication of the city brand will be
enforced through continuous collaboration between different visions.
Designing the branding strategy aims at (a) defining a unitary and positive
image / identity of Iaşi and its assumption by the administration, inhabitants,
the business environment, tourists, students and (b) promoting as widely as
possible this image / identity defined for the city of Iaşi.
a. Designing a branding strategy that involves the following steps:
1.Civic engagement through permanent consultation (general and customized
by interest groups - community, business, tourism and education) to define the pillars
of development of city branding.
At this point, the idea is to awake the engagement spirit of communities in Iasi in
order to magnetize the relevant information concerning Iasi from different
stakeholders point of view. In order to do so, the local authorities will facilitate the
relevant data (strategies, plans, stage of process) for a better understanding of what
is and where will be Iasi, while the general survey, community consultation and
debates will bring at the surface the most significant themes for citizens, in relation to their city.
2. Synthesis of ideas and defining the concept of city branding for Iasi.
The process of creating the brief refers to elaborate a set of ideas and principles
which reflects the wholeness image of Iasi, in order to establish the guidelines for
branding process of Iasi municipality. At this stage, the municipality assume to build
upon citizens’ interests and defines sets of datas and relevant statistics, along with
thematically selected projects and city strategies which are going to be publicly
communicated as an integral part of identity and brand building.
3. Making proposals (specialists in place branding, selected through contest)
of visual identity elements. The final choice will be decided by a committee of
specialists (50%) and by the local community (voting system).
According to the brief, there will be a permanent dialogue between specialists
selected to provide the visual identity and to build the visual markers for the
knowledge platforms which will communicate public statistics and projects, and the
local administration workgroup, until the results if finally achieved.
4. Elaborating the city branding strategy.
The team behind the strategy will elaborate the brand strategy tackling the relevant
OGP values into the proposal: accountability, open data, transparency and civic
engagement, shaping and managing, with the administration workgroup, the data
portals designed to communicate public projects and sets of statistics in open format,
for different stakeholders (innovators, tourists, students etc.).
b. Implementing branding policies (12 months)
Residents and local government will assume the identity defined in the branding
strategy and will communicate this image in a transparent and open manner.
Promotional campaigns will be created on 4 key axes (tourism, business, education,
community) to bring more investors to the city and support educational / tourism
initiatives. Central activities / actions will involve:
1. Intensive promotion of visual identity by labeling a set of public goods by the local
government with these elements of identity (public transport, administration cars,
canals, neighborhood town halls, etc.).
2. Promotion of visual identity by private actors by creating "Made in Iaşi" labels on
local products (eg wine bottles, etc.).
3. Promotion of visual identity by citizens by distributing promotional materials with
visual identity elements which reinforce the notion of transparent city and cues to the
data portals (shirts, backpacks, stickers, umbrellas, jackets, etc.).
4. Assumption of the visual identity by the local economic actors (taking over the Iaşi
visual identity elements in their own promotional materials).
5. Communication of visual identity outside of Iaşi through (a) participation in tourism
fairs, business events and (b) in the online environment.
6. Change of totems from the entrance to Iasi city with some specific from the
7. Promoting and constant updating the data portals where citizens have access to
specific statistics in open format and information regarding the public projects
(budgets, milestones, progress, next steps, opportunities to get involved) on different
fields of interest for different stakeholders: tourism, business, education, community.
These portals, integrated into the local identity brand strategy, are going to be of use
also for facilitating and drawing attention towards public consultation events.
8. Making a promotion film to communicate Iasi as a destination.
9. Communication the city brand through Iasi ambassadors (cultural / sporting
personalities, students involved in internships / university exchanges, etc.) who will
bring further awareness over the city, its identity and the information provided to
support it, in regards to public projects and the access to participation.
Expected results of implementation of the city branding process, as previously
a. Locals will become proud of the city they live in, changing the interaction pattern
with authorities and public projects .
b. People of Iași will communicate the city as a creative one in all social spheres
(social media, friends, relatives, business, tourism fairs, tourists), while also backing
their statements with concrete information, advocating further the data and info
c. Universities will attract more students coming from outside the city, as the local
community is going to reclaim its attractivity factor. d. The number of tourists will increase with the participation of Iasi in tourism fairs,
and their feedback (positive) will have the effect of snowball, encouraging the local
administration, as well as the community to make further steps in building upon the
e. The business and entrepreneurial environment will benefit from both the idea of an
attractive city - aimed at increasing start-ups and business events, and the concrete
data they’ll be provided through data and information platforms, which will allow them
to make informed decisions.
f. The local administration will become a more resilient one, by genuinely gaining the
trust of different social categories of the community
g. Local community will become more engaged in public decisions and projects as
they will become more transparent to the community.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
City Branding is the process of branding a city or place. “A strong place brand helps
a city compete in the global marketplace,” says Chris Fair (President, Resonance,
The previously described process allows:
- finding the topics and fields citizens mostly care about in relation to their city
and build more transparency and knowledge over the corresponding public
projects while also developing corresponding bodies of statistics with public access,
so that interested stakeholders could base their decisions upon them; by doing so, a
better performance of transparency is ensured, by bridging public information with
highly shared community interests;
- the development of a new relation between city management and citizens, as
the branding process opens a dialogue place less affected by mistrustrust; the
consolidation of a more open relational pattern between the local administration and
the citizens, as the local identity must be enforced through concrete action upon
transparency and dialogue opportunities;- local administration to accommodate with the value of transparency and to
develop internal workflows mandatory in order to gather and update statistical data
and to digitally and coherently communicate public projects, their status and updates
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The very first action of the commitment, assuming an attractive city for its inhabitants,
the business environment, tourist and academic field involves a major civic
participation process from the local society. All four pillars of the present proposal
(civic society, business, education, tourism) are to be consulted for the purpose of the
project. Their perceptions and vision is essential in achieving a final result that
highlights the identity of Iași. During the implementation process, civic engagement
in promoting the identity which will be directly related to public projects and data from
the portals will weigh heavily on dissemination and internalization of the provided
public information. Awareness over available public information and meaning added,
due to their link with the local identity, should serve to better accommodate the
community with checking up on what’s happening in their city.
By digitizing city strategies and public projects, along clustered fields of interest
manifested by the local community and its stakeholders, the threshold of meaningful
transparency becomes reachable. Otherwise, the risk is that the local administration
to cease the great effort mandatory to take such an approach, due to apparently lack
of interest in the community. While we may assume that all city strategies will be
digitized and subordinated public projects, presented along with their timeline,
progress and other contextual data, the specific fields for open data platforms
(statistics) should be established within the process of brand strategy building, in
order to identify the types of data relevant for stakeholders and also collected by
institutions and public agencies.
Accountability and open data
The process of understanding Iasi is also about understanding the past, present and
future projects and strategies. Saying that, through the process, the local authorities
will become more aware in regards with the two sided blade of transparency.
Sharing and presenting in a friendly way the inside data (strategies, projects, future plans) builds public trust, while is also binding you into respecting the promises
made and clearly explain the change of plans. Apart from digitization of public
projects clustered along community expressed interests, the open data portals,
designed to share relevant statistics for different stakeholders allows many types of
social groups to verify and build upon valid information.
The major goals of a branding campaign are to increase economic growth and
improve the quality of citizens' lives, and both of them are sustainably reached by
creating a local identity which changes the relational patterns between authorities
and citizens, allowing citizens to better relate to public projects and city hall
decisions, while also accommodating the local administration with workflows
mandatory to ensure a better communication on city’s projects.
On the medium and long term, the local identity, actively translated in action, adds to
economic development and social innovation.
Using the Technologies
The brand strategy is closely related to the construction of a smart-city, which is
heavily influenced by the way the city is positioned through its features. Creating the
open data portals, in fields of interest for different stakeholders (civic society,
business, education, tourism), along with digitizing city strategies and subordinated
public projects is highly related to city’s strategy on the smart-city issue.