As you probably know, last week we attended Smart City Expo in Barcelona. We presented SmartCityPlatform used by our first clients at Smart Plaza exhibition hall. Having an exhibition provided us with great connections. At the Expo we also gained new knowledge and were inspired for many new ideas. The world’s leading companies and individuals in the field of smart cities left a lasting impression on our vision and inspired innovative directions for our future work.
We would like to share with you what we have learned at the leading smart city congress in the world.
1. The city must be created not only for citizens but also with them.
It is necessary to take advantage of the great improvements produced year by year, concerning technological advances, social achievements, urban issues, social and ecological challenges, new forms of economic development, and innovative forms of citizen governance. All of the above has to be created and communicated with citizens. Because of them the city is a vibrant place and they are the ones who should and have to be satisfied with the quality of life in their city. They have the right ideas and know the problems in the city best, because they live in the city every day. Municipality just has to ask and talk to them.
2. It is a matter of modifying and transforming processes, going beyond what has been done before.
Without online access and the use of information and communication technologies, managing cities can become even more complex. But we have to go even beyond the processes and innovations that have been already made. Every day there is something new in the technological world and we have to take advantage of that. New trends such us circle economy, energy innovation, and sustainable mobility have to be reinforced and transformed into new solutions constantly. Co-production and co-creation dynamics is a must in today’s world, because together we can do more, especially in IT world. Technology today is a pre-distributive resource and we have to use that.
3. Improve Public Private Partnerships (PPP)
For sustainable Smart Cities, coordination between private companies and public institutions as cornerstones is a necessity. As Telefonica’s Smart Cities Director Rosalía Simón pointed out: “Governments and private companies must find ways of working together to prevent Smart cities from becoming permanent pilot projects.” Security is also another key aspect here. “Trustworthy ecosystem has to be created for everyone involved, especially for the citizens that are sharing part of their data.” This has to be done, because in the end this transformational process is more than a technological drive, it must be a drive to improve the lives of people. That’s why the Public Private Partnerships thing has to improve and give some results.
4. Sustainable urban development
Cities and regions are the new powerhouses of innovation. Local governments have a vital role to play in transforming the quality of local services and the organizations that deliver them, but they cannot succeed alone. As highlighted at the Smart City Expo, to solve smart cities challenges it is necessary to go beyond urban policies. Regions and communities must operate together in a smart manner to address urban challenges and serve an increasingly self-steering civil society. New urban governance models should be democratic and inclusive, multi-scalar and multilevel, and conscious of the digital age, with long-term and integrated perspectives. Broader context of urban development is being changed by the current urbanization trends which we should follow and with that assist local authorities in crafting more accountable and participatory governance systems.
5. Improving cities through education and tourism opportunities
Education must enforce entrepreneurship, in order to make a difference in the skill set of citizens. New ways to develop a better environment and consequently better education for the population has to be found. According to Jose Antonio Belmonte from the Spanish Region of Murcia’s Tourism Institute, cities that combine the technological adoption aspect with being popular tourist destinations are called Smart Destinations – these are Smart Cities prepared for tourism. They rely on technology, on development of new products, services, and experiences to enable interaction with the tourists. For this to be successful, local authorities have to partner with companies that can help them. This public – private coalitions connects different actors involved, allowing tourist destinations to successfully embrace digital transformation
Those are the most important 5 things that we have learned at Barcelona Smart City Expo. Maybe you have noticed that through all 5 points there is a recurrent theme, which was also the main topic of this year’s congress. That is collaboration, collaboration and collaboration. Cities must be created with citizens and together with all other stakeholders in the city. Cities that start to digitally transform and collaborate with stakeholders and people are on the right path. We are glad that our city governance tool SmartCityPlatform is enabler of smart and sustainable development of cities.