December 2, 2016

Smart City Expo – Cities for Citizen

From 15 – 17 November 2016, the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) was once again the leading platform for bringing together theory and practise in the field of smart cities and urban development. The international summit was hosted for the fifth time in Barcelona, and has been offering a crucial link between urban reality and technological revolution since 2011.

Cities are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and for three thirds of natural resources consumption. Today more than 54% of the global population are urban dwellers. This means – now more than ever – that cities are the places where global challenges in demographics, natural resources, and climate play out. Urbanisation is one of the key trends that will characterise the decades to come: When properly steered, urban growth can drive wealth creation and social equity. However, in many parts of the world, urbanisation has become more spatially fragmented, less environmentally responsive and more socially divisive. The so-called urban divide is widening in many cities around the globe.

Building Cities for All

Impoverished urban settlements continue to breed hunger, poor health and lagging education, along with a host of other social, environmental, cultural and political challenges. Especially in Asia, urban areas are becoming so large and are expanding so rapidly that they can no longer be classified as big cities. The biggest cities now form mega regions, urban corridors or city regions. Breaching the urban divide is a major challenge facing the world – involves recognising everyone’s full rights to the city. Cities should be places to forge a different growth paradigm that promotes rights and opportunities for all members of society. The three-day summit looked for answers on how to connect the dots between sustainable development and urbanisation. Ideas range broadly. Parag Khanna argued in his keynote ‘Why we need more connected cities’, that in order to empower people and reduce inequality we must invest more in connected cities. This will enhance the ability to access the latest knowledge and guarantees that cities become even better at securing the flow of goods, services, people, money, data and ideas. Kent Larson stressed the pivotal role that cities play in fostering successful sustainable development. Larson presented the work of his research group at MIT MediaLab that develops urban inverventions, which address the diverse set of urban challenges. The project CityScope, Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV) and CityHome aim to bring entrepreneurial, high-performance, liveable cities about.

Cities Need and Breed Innovation

Cities and regions are the new powerhouses of innovation. New ideas and products are born in cities. Innovation is a major drive of economic growth. How can cities develop innovation areas to help entrepreneurs and innovators address the most pressing questions? How can cities turn into incubators and living labs, while placing the citizen at the centre of innovation? Local actors and governments need to enable creative solution-oriented ideas and facilitate knowledge spillovers. Kate Daly from the NYC Economic Development Corporation serves as the Vice President of at the Center for Urban Innovation. She explained how her team works across multiple industry sectors to catalyse tech-driven, innovative, and sustainable economic development in New York City. David Belt from the New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard presented how innovative business models lead to collaborative dynamics across industries and communities that fuel sustainable urban creation.

If You Start Me Up, I’ll Never Stop: Enabling Growth for Innovative Enterprises Within Cities

Startups are pushing hard to disrupt the smart city industry with their innovation, new products and services for redesigning the life in cities. Often they take a bottom-up approach to enhancing the wellbeing of citizens. Dr Philipp Bouteiller from Tegel Projekt, introduced The Urban Tech Republic at Berlin TXL, which will become the leading startup hub for research-driven tech enterprises that seek to mingle with researchers, big industry players on a state-of-the-art, sustainable campus in the centre of Berlin. By becoming a platform that enables researchers and startups to launch new ventures together, The Urban Tech Republic will contribute to re-industrialise Berlin with industries such as IoT and urban production. The campus will allow enterprises to grow and scale their ideas and production. The summit concluded with the 4YFN Awards 2016 Smart City Edition, distinguishing emerging companies that featured high-impact mobile solutions leading to an improved quality of life for users. Philipp Bouteiller, who also chaired the jury, was pleased to see that startups were given a spotlight and thus were able to take the stage next to large industry players such as Cisco, SAP and Microsoft.



December 2, 2016

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