The Smart City Expo held last week in Barcelona showed the multiple initiatives and existing applications, both from suppliers and from cities.

In the fair and congress Smart City Expo , which took place the past 14 to 16 November in Barcelona, ​​it was clear the multiplicity of initiatives and developments that are already available to provide more “intelligence” to the services provided by cities and improve in this way its management and that are more efficient, both from the point of view of cost savings and its quality.

Many cities have already passed from the experimental phase to the implementation of several more intelligent services, thanks to the incorporation of sensors and actuators in multiple points where the service is provided, which serve to collect data on its operation and which are then used to better manage the service or even to modify it, if the relevant actuators are available.

Many large cities have launched multiple initiatives and incorporated technology to provide them with more intelligence and better serve citizens , several of which were present at Smart City Expo, such as Dubai, New York, Berlin, Chicago, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Montevideo, Brussels, Busan, Atlanta, Nordic countries or Barcelona , with large stands where they showed what they are doing with the help of partners who develop the applications.

The direct presence of these and many other cities at the fair responds to an interest in promoting and serving as a pole of attraction and experimentation to different investors and technology companies, apart from the objective of achieving more efficient citizen services with the use of technology. In addition to the cities directly, the solutions developed by local companies also exposed many countries and regions. The parallel fair and congress have exceeded the initial forecasts, according to the organization, with the assistance of 700 cities, 675 exhibitors and more than 400 speakers . Altogether it was visited by 18,000 people, 13% more than last year.

The central part of Smart City Expo consisted, however, in the offer already available to large and small companies and in the exhibition of its technology and applications, mostly based on the cloud. Of these, highlighted global platforms that have companies such as Huawei or Cisco and more specific products or solutions by Bosch , Siemens , Intel , SAP , Cellnex , ZTEMastercard or Microsoft. Other companies showed the benefits that the incorporation of technology allows to its traditional offer, such as waste collection, public lighting systems or trash containers, as was the case with FCC , Ferrovial , Suez , Engie , Ros Roca or Alstom .

In the congress that was held in parallel to the fair, the multiple possibilities offered by technology were highlighted, but also the challenges and pitfalls they face in order to achieve cities that provide citizens with more efficient and effective services, which is at the end of what it is. Two of the most outstanding problems were the financial one, with the measurement of a return of the objective investment and in a reasonable term, and the other the creation of de facto standards that allow an interconnection of the different existing applications. In this last aspect, it was recognized that much progress has been made in the creation of open data standards and gateways and connectors from different platforms, although there is still a long way to go, because each supplier has an interest in “their” solution.

With a much more global and holistic approach, he highlighted the intervention of Joan Clos , who was mayor of Barcelona and Minister of Industry and now heads the Habitat body of the UN . Clos calls for ” smart urbanization “, to make cities safer, mitigate as much as possible climate change and, above all, to join the concepts of development and urbanism.

” Urbanization is an accelerator and a key tool for the development of cities and humanity, ” although few countries, except China, are clear, he said. For urbanization to promote development, it is necessary to change the mentality and create an urban policy at the national level, complemented by the implementation of a policy at the local level. Within what was called the wheel of sustainable and qualitative urbanization, within the national and local politics there must be clear laws and regulations, a rational physical design of cities and adequate local financing.

Technology, he said, is key to achieving this smart urbanization, but there must be a clear objective for there to be development and improve people’s quality of life. Cities are ideal to promote the creation of services, the basis of the current economy, but it must be borne in mind that an urban citizen consumes ten times more energy than a citizen who lives in a rural environment. ” The challenges we face in the next twenty years are huge .” Technology should contribute to its solution but by itself, without a bold objective, it will not, he added.