The 7th edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress took place from the 14th-16th of November in Barcelona, Spain. This year the cogress focused on empowering the people and empowering the cities, within eight different topics – Governance, Mobility, Safe Cities, Economy, Sustainability, Circular Economy, Society, Data & Technology – connected within each other. With the aim to create smarter cities to tackle the challenges we are facing in the 21st Century, such as urbanization, global warming and climate change, to just mention some.
Many speakers highlighted the fact that what is happing in cities is shaping our world. As the predicted number for urbanisation keeps raising; cities will soon face – and most are already facing – challenges such as population growth, traffic congestion and pollution, climate change, affordable and accessible health, education and housing, help and integration of migrants and refugees. However, these pressing issues are nothing new in our society, yet effective solutions still need to be taken.
A recurrent theme was the need to listen to citizens, to empower them. The need of transparancy between governments and the public, throughout active participation, critical reflection, access and involvement over important decisions-making.
More than 700 cities and 600 exhibitors showed their new smart and technologic solutions to fight the challenges that we are facing. However, do we have enough time and money to implement smart solutions in different cities around the world to mitigate our impact on the planet? Is implementing – for example – smart lighting with wifi, secutiry cameras, air and noise quality control stations that make a city smart? What does really make a city ‘smart’?