The Help Desk represents the core and most innovative part of the IUC project, constituting the ‘platform nature’ of the project. The desk relies on a bilingual knowledge platform based on most appropriate IC technologies and on a physical secretariat.
The online component of the help-desk is contents-neutral, i.e. contents are brought onto it by the stakeholders, primarily by the municipalities in the EU and in Asia which engage with the project. Rather than generating knowledge on its own, the platform thereby:
- Reacts to demand and supply of information from the municipalities,
- Re-organises this information,
- Makes it comparable and suit the needs of the Asian municipalities,
- Provides feedback from the Asian municipalities to the EU municipalities on the initially provided information and the scope from improvement, and vice versa,
- Acts as a matchmaking mechanism for bilateral partnerships, drawing on the knowledge of the municipalities’ specific needs and profiles that result from the exchange of information and the database that is thus built up.
The helpdesk provides administrative, logistical, technical support and financial liaison to pairing and signatory cities, as well as to regions and other national institutions interested in the programme.
The helpdesk is thus the mechanism through which the project can daily and directly interact with cities and regions. It is the first contact point of cities and regions.
Five specific target groups will be served by the helpdesk:
- Cities involved in pairings for Sustainable Urban Development (team based in China)
- Covenant Signatory cities outside China (team based in Indonesia)
- Regional and national departments supporting smaller cities
- National and regional authorities responsible for climate change relevant policies
- Third-party stakeholders such as non-signatory cities and CSOs, donors, companies, financial institutions and academia.
The helpdesk is accessible via a dedicated e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Specific attention is given to the linguistic capacity of the helpdesk, which operates in English, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesian and Korean.
By inviting contents from the municipalities “bottom-up”, the project’s principle of subsidiarity is embraced.
The help desk acts as the nexus of the multi-layered information and engagement. It establishes the links between the project Results ensuring synergies between them. For example, an Asian City X may require information about a particular subject and for this purpose initially accesses to existing knowledge, finding – through the links and records provided by the help-desk – that City Y in Europe has particular knowledge on this subject. This could in turn lead to a bilateral partnership between City X and City Y, going beyond the initial subject.
The help desk also acts as the memory of the project in which the project knowledge is retained and made available beyond the termination of the IUC project, and is thus a major contribution to the project’s sustainability. In this function it is vital to build in a technical feature which records which knowledge is generated by whom, and to whom it has been passed on.