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The creation of a vibrant water square in Rotterdam, a parking garage that at first glance seems impossible to build in the dyke reinforcement of Katwijk and a 3D model of mobility in Hilversum that is attracting international attention. It has all been entrusted to Connected Strategic Change Processes, the strategic innovation and communication consultancy that Marco Maréchal founded in 1996. Since then, it is impossible to imagine the world of mobility, quality of life and water without Connected.

“As a child, I was often allowed to join my father on holidays, who was an asphalt and concrete technician for NBM – now BAM – and was on the road a lot. My father checked the progress of road works and talked to many people, because he knew everyone. This is how my love for traffic, transport and mobility and for networking started.

This world is literally always moving. When smart developments in the mobility system started to take off about six years ago, I decided to be one of the first to dive deeper into smart mobility. I have also started to specialise in customised multimodal travel advice: Mobility as a Service. I have a different view on that than most people. I believe that people should be the focus of attention. After all, they are the end users of all mobility products, but they are far too often forgotten in all concepts that revolve around the latest technologies.

To clarify my vision, I wrote the book 'Mobility in the future 2030 - The Dutch finally have their say', which became a bestseller and attracted a lot of (inter)national attention. Because of my distinctive vision, I often appear on the stages of conferences to tell my story and I now have my own radio show.”

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Smart water

Connected Strategic Change processes focus not only on mobility, but also on other smart developments such as smart energy, smart water, smart city, and circular economy and sustainability.

Smart water is a very topical theme that we want to be involved in. We are very proud of our work on the Benthemplein in Rotterdam, Europe's largest water square. For this project, we focused on all stakeholders and provided connection. Networking and participation were the keywords here. And we were successful, because Rotterdam now has a beautiful and lively water square that even receives international attention.

An entirely different smart water project is the creation of an Energy and Raw Materials Factory on behalf of the 21 water authorities in the Netherlands. Thanks to this factory, it is possible to recover valuable raw materials from wastewater. One of these substances is biogas, which can eventually be converted into green electricity. Within this project, Connected was responsible for the strategy and consultation partner of the water authorities in the development of the business model.

Focus on people

Whatever the smart development is, Connected always puts people first. This is important, because all themes are about people. By involving stakeholders in the planning process, we hear what the wishes, objections and concerns are.

We can do something with that. The most important thing is that people are heard and included in a process. This way we increase the support for a plan and people will embrace it.

Connected therefore does a lot of environmental management for all kinds of companies, institutions and governments, both domestically and abroad. Environmental management is comprehensive and ranges from inhabitant surveys to participation meetings and from focus groups to one-to-one conversations.

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Making themes concrete

Over the years, we have worked with many different companies and governments. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) engaged Connected as a programme and process leader and strategic innovation and communications advisor for the Beter Benutten programme, among others. Provinces and municipalities also find their way to Connected.

That is the beauty of our work: we discuss all kinds of smart themes at a national and international level and can then put them into practice in programmes and projects for towns and cities. We always look at the impact a new smart development has on people. A theme like smart water may sound like a long way off, but it's much closer than people think. Because everyone has to deal with it in everyday life. Think of the clustered showers that flooded parts of the Netherlands and then the persistent drought that the country has to contend with. These are extremes we all have to deal with and they affect our lives. How do we keep the water out? Are we still allowed to shower during prolonged drought? These are all themes for which policy is being made and for which we are happy to make the translation to people for municipal and provincial authorities.

Humour as strength

Over the years, Connected has developed a lot of experience with companies and governments both domestically and abroad and has thus developed an administrative and political antenna. Connected combines that with the power to connect and of course: humour!

We can make good use of all these qualities in our role as environmental manager, but also in our work as (strategic) communication advisor, spokesperson and innovation manager. But in the end, it's all about one thing, Connected's motto: 'How you look determines what you see'.

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