This week Barcelona hosts the Smart City Expo, focusing on how smart cities can change the world. The word smart city is popping up all around us and is driving the urban innovation portfolio. Smart cities ask for clever and integrated solutions on urban complexity, traffic congestion, emission, public service coordination and energy efficiency challenges. Just to name a few. Hence, a wide and diverse audience was attracted to rethink smart city offerings and share knowledge.
An annual event gathering the world in Barcelona. An event around Smart Cities has the potential to have the same impact as the World Mobile Congress. Barcelona is internationally profiling itself as a model for smart cities* and at the same time calls itself the Mobile World Capital for 2012-2018. This directly shows the link between smart city and mobile technology opportunities, or in other words Big Data. A third topic is energy efficiency and sustainability. It’s for a reason that the Electric Vehicle Symposium was held at the same time, at the same venue. So what are we talking about? Imagine electric (zero-emission) self-driving cabs which aren’t owned, but shared by a community of citizens. We are talking about transforming cities today for sustainability tomorrow.
From a business perspective, SMART used to stand for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time scaled. Nowadays, it is linked to anything related to the technological area. Technology is being more and more intertwined in all aspects of life, making it the basic feature of our age.
Therefore, everybody from SME’s, startups. Multinationals, governments, cities, research institutes, universities to citizens, journalists and politicians are following the developments of Smart Cities and Big data. However, some follow it with suspicion, pone questions related to privacy, refer to the current problems with NSA or to Minority Report. For this the answer will be trust management and time. Every transition to a new paradigm and even the smallest change hurts to a certain degree. At the same time, our digitalized era also provides possibilities for citizens to empower themselves: the rise of the smart citizens that will be able to monitor , consult, think and express itself through all the new channels available. In politics we saw the power of data and communication during the Arab Spring in 2011. Nowadays, cities and companies try to activate society to think along. A nice example of this is IBM, in itself a leading exemplary company on the topic of smart cities, but they don’t want to act alone. Therefore, the people4smartercities project is calling all doers, thinkers, problem solvers, creators and dreamers to help to make your city smarter.
Cities see the smart city movement as a way to enhance the livelihood of their city by creating a better quality of life and creating more job opportunities, hence investing in urban innovation and economic development. The Genova Smart City project made a top list of item:
- Energy efficiency: + efficiency – waste – consumption
- Lower environmental impact, reduction of pollution, renewable energy sources
- Mobility, urban planning, sustainable economy
- Transparency, simplification, access to information
- Job opportunities: attractive to young talent, business, investment
- Overview of the city: computer networks, infrastructure, social, cultural that interact with each other
A lot of cities have open calls and are searching for solutions. If you have an interesting value proposition covering one the above topics, it’s worth a try. If they believe in the offer, they might even be interested to develop it or invest in it. For this purpose, an interactive networking session – Synergys – was organized by KIMbcn and Barcelona Activa, where, amongst others the cities Rio de Janeiro, Peterborough, Jerusalem and Calida reached out.
Earlier I wrote about how I look at our times as the CO-era, since we are shifting to a more collectivist and shared approached through the amplified possibilities of COmmunication, COllaborating, COworking and COcreating. After visiting the Smart CityExpo, I can add another buzz word to describe our time: the SMART CO-era, leaded by smart citizens, operating in smart societies while focusing on smart specializations in a smart city.
But only words and thoughts do not solve the issues at hand. The current climate change negotiations in Warsaw are going rough and so far there is still a lot to do to achieve the millennium goals, that are due to be delivered in a little more than a year. Hence, referring back Shakespeare ” What’s in a name. That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet “. I hope all the talking will result in practical problem solving solutions, whether it’s labeled Smart, Big Data, CO or anything else.