Shenja van der Graaf (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Le Anh Nguyen Long (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Carina Veeckman (imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)

Co-creation and Smart Cities: Looking Beyond Technology

ISBN: 978-1-80043-603-9, eISBN: 978-1-80043-602-2

Publication date: 15 November 2021


van der Graaf, S., Nguyen Long, L.A. and Veeckman, C. (2021), "Prelims", Co-creation and Smart Cities: Looking Beyond Technology, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xii.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Shenja van der Graaf, Le Anh Nguyen Long and Carina Veeckman

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University of Twente, The Netherlands


University of Twente, The Netherlands



imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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First edition 2022

Copyright © 2022 Shenja van der Graaf, Le Anh Nguyen Long, and Carina Veeckman. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited.

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ISBN: 978-1-80043-603-9 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80043-602-2 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80043-604-6 (Epub)


List of Figures vii
About the Authors ix
Acknowledgements xi
Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Chapter 2: Co-creation and the City 11
Chapter 3: Design Principles for Co-creating in and with Cities 27
Chapter 4: Tools and Methods for Value Co-creation 43
Chapter 5: Co-creation in Cities: A Set of Testimonials 59
Chapter 6: Organisations in Transition 75
Afterword 97
References 99
Index 129

List of Figures

Fig. 1. Co-creation 6C Framework. 40
Fig. 2. Co-creation Flowchart Design. 46
Fig. 3. Co-creation Readiness Compass. 96

About the Authors

Shenja van der Graaf, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Communication Science at the University of Twente (UT) in The Netherlands. Her interests focus on digital transformations and the cultural, economic and governance dynamics that accompany them, such as for firms, cities and user communities. She has held research, advisory and management positions at public and private entities in Belgium, UK, Japan, and USA, and authored various articles and books. Before joining the UT, she was a Principle Investigator at imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), leading the ‘Data, Governance & Communities’ Unit.

Le Anh Nguyen Long, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the UT in The Netherlands. Her teaching and research focus on how local governments, in their capacity as laboratories of democracy, can contribute new and needed solutions through their policy experiments and innovations. She is an Executive Board Member of the European Urban Research Association and a Research Fellow at the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California (UC), Davis.

Carina Veeckman is a Senior Researcher and Project Manager at imec-SMIT, VUB, in Belgium. Her interests focus on participatory governance and citizen science, as well as social innovation through collaborative platforms. She is a part of the ‘Data, Governance & Communities’ Unit at SMIT and serves as the Principle Investigator on citizen science with two recent science communication handbooks. She is a Board Member of Scivil, the Knowledge Centre for Citizen Science in Flanders.


The idea for this book is a ‘derivative’ outcome of a co-creation workshop organised by the Data, Governance & Communities (previously, Smart Cities) Unit during the 2018 Strategic Days of Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology (imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel). The focus at that time was on listing and developing co-creation methods and tools that were being, or should be used, in many of our city-related research projects. Over time, this ambition shifted towards offering a critical, thorough, yet practical introduction on how to facilitate and optimise citizen involvement by implementing and deploying co-creation methods within cities, thereby putting public value at the centre of future development in the increasingly complex, multi-stakeholder ecosystem of urban public and private entities.

We would like to explicitly thank Jonas Breuer, Francesca Spagnoli, Laura Temmerman and Mehdi Montakhabi for their contributions. Jonas, your view on co-creation helped to design the flowchart and to keep the privacy and ethical aspects of co-creation in view. Francesca, your input and link with Living Labs helped to frame the design principles on co-creation as well as the various methods and tools for the co-creation flowchart. Laura, your practical insights helped to further streamline the co-creation flowchart and helped to finalise its last puzzles. Finally, Mehdi, thank you for your help with lay-outing, referencing, and being supportive throughout the process. This book would not have been possible without your contributions.

We are grateful for the many lively discussions, intellectual stimulation, puzzled looks, and ‘interrogations’ we got from our colleagues (‘Smitters’) during Unit and other meetings and the occasional water cooler or hallway conversation. In particular, a big thank you to Nils Walravens, Bram Lievens, Olga Tsoumani, Jaco van der Bank, Koen Borghys, Ruben D’Hauwers, Ine van Zeeland, Annelien Smets, Rob Heyman, Ilse Mariën, Simon Delaere, Jo Pierson and, last but not least, Pieter Ballon.

A very special thank you to Wim Vanobberghen. You are Epic and you know it.

Also, we would like to express our words of gratitude to ‘a decade of colleagues’, spread across Europe, UK, South Africa and USA, whom we collaborated with on numerous research projects, Living Labs, City of Things (Antwerp), and other settings.

A special thanks for all the interviewees who provided a testimonial and words of wisdom about their experiences with co-creation: Lieven Raes (Informatie Vlaanderen), Matteo Satta (Issy-les-Moulineaux), Rib Drabs (Luchtpijp), Martijn de Waal (The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), Paulo Calçada (Porto Digital) and Inese Viktorija Grospine (The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia).

Our colleagues at the University of Twente, especially, Alexander van Deursen, Sjoerd de Vries, and René Torenvlied, thank you for your warm welcome, guidance and support.

Thanks also to Francesco Catania for your ideas, and for being a much needed sounding board. And, to our (extended) families and friends, thanks for bearing with us.

Shenja, Le Anh, and Carina

July 2021