During the summer in Spain, religious pilgrims head west for the Camino de Santiago, and in November, discerning urban pilgrims head east. World Smart City Congress in Barcelona. The premier global Smart City event held in the city can be said to have started the movement.
Last year, I blogged after the incident, likening it to Santa Claus’s smart-city grotto and expressing concern about the lack of blue-collar solutions. This year I hope to find:
- Blue Collar Smart City Solutions. The world is in a more challenging situation than it was last year, with energy perhaps the biggest concern for the economically vulnerable and cities being asked to do more with less funding. There is nothing new in it. However, Covid has not gone away and much of local government spending has been spent on social care and health. Cities must find ways to combat energy poverty, including changing the energy behavior of citizens. I hope to see technology vendors recognize the outcomes that cities demand and offer solutions for location-based health, behavior change, mobility, integrated services and greater data sharing for targeted care.
- New partner ecosystems between industry verticals. It’s great to see elements of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) companies taking part in this year’s event. After social care and health, the built environment is the second largest third party expenditure by local authorities. Last year, the systemic shock of the pandemic and recognition of the need to tackle climate change gave COP26 a mandate to put ESG and the UN’s SDGs center stage. However, as the energy crisis worsened in recent months, there has been an element of backsliding on green initiatives.
A new ecosystem of stakeholders is required to enable sustainable urban development. The built environment ecosystem is a confederation of interests: national and local governments attract AEC firms, which in turn are supported by technology, utilities, energy and telecommunications companies. There is alignment between these actors on the need to share data and develop a more people-centric, data-driven sustainable urban environment.
The Barcelona World Smart City Congress is, and should continue to be, an important showcase of what is possible through technology. Likewise, looking to the future, vendors must offer solutions to the immediate problems cities face. Let’s see what Santa put under the tree.
The global IDC team will be speaking and participating in panels at the Congress Paving technology for tomorrow’s cities , Urban preparedness for the refugee crisisthe and From digital twins to AI-powered metaverse design platforms. We have a booth on all three days of the conference and we would be happy to meet people to discuss any of the above.
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