With more than 16,000 attendees and 591 exhibitors from 600 cities around the world, there was a huge amount to take in over our three days at Barcelona’s Smart City Expo World Congress.
With our feet back on UK soil, we’ve had a chance to distill some of our highlights – and reflect on what we learned at the show…
- The circular economy will be key to successful smart cities
A circular economy is, according to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, one that is “restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.”
In the face of a growing world population, which will depend on largely finite resources, it shouldn’t take much to be convinced of the value of such a system.
The circular economy model is all about tracking the lifecycle of all resources and optimising their use and re-use. The Internet of Things, and the ability to gather data from myriad sources, has enabled this necessary revolution.
By 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments – the challenge in the meantime will be to optimise our city economies to provide a sustainable, and smart, future.
- Open platforms are essential
Data sharing and interoperability are to be at the very foundation of successful smart cities. Professor John Davies recently outlined how we’ll be working with BT in using Hypercat to deliver this for CityVerve.
However there is a risk that the organisations providing the platforms will themselves become siloes separated from the smart city that they support.
From the discussions we had in Barcelona it was clear that there is a general agreement on the need for interoperable platforms with open standards
This isn’t so much a technological challenge as it is one to be tackled by city authorities. Again, our broad CityVerve consortium is well placed to take this on, with a blend of public and private organisations working towards a shared set of goals.
- Barcelona is actually one of the ‘smartest’ cities in the world
There are sensors all over the city, smart services, and open data portals too.
The city is using applications to help with all sorts of things, from informing gardening crews about when plants need watering, to improving bus routes and even a system that uses smart traffic lights to plot the fastest route for emergency service vehicles responding to an incident.
With all of this on show, it certainly felt like a fitting location for the World Congress.
Seeing all of this in action in a new environment was a real inspiration. Our job with CityVerve will be to produce something that is genuinely interconnected and with the potential to be scaled up or down to suit other towns and cities of varying sizes around the world.