Three Ways the World is Changing

Innovation experts reveal insights at the World Smart City Expo

“Who are we, and how do we want to live?” This question guided three global smart city leaders who gathered at the World Smart City Expo in Kintex, Korea on September 5. Dr. Amy Hochadel, Connected Places Catapult (UK); Wilfried Pimenta, IOTA Foundation (Norway); and Daniel Gonzalez Bootello, Smart City Cluster (Spain) presented a diverse span of insights centered on how the rapid pace of technology is driving decisions in the era of smart and connected cities.

We Are In an Era of City Alliances

Dr. Hochadel stated that we are moving from building smart cities to creating connected communities. She emphasized that many cities, regardless of size or location, have commonalities which result in a shared strength.

“The challenges are really the same across most cities, no matter the size, population growth or density. Residents are all concerned with mobility, air quality, aging populations, and health. To address these challenges, cities are forming networks to share resources, data platforms and enable scaling solutions. It becomes less about individual approaches and more about city sharing platforms.” This creates the opportunity to move beyond singular technical solutions.

As the leader of the Smart City Cluster located in Malaga, Spain, Daniel Gonzalez Bootello agrees. He asserts that cities can transfer and accelerate their progress by optimizing frameworks. One of those frameworks is Ecosystemic Urbanism, a new approach to urban planning that takes into account environmental constraints and indicators. He believes that traditional urbanism techniques can be combined with modern, cutting-edge technologies to meet residents’ most pressing needs. The Smart City Cluster, which is an alliance of private companies and institutions that work for the development of smart cities, is an example of a unifying platform that can support cities in their transformation.

Going Outside of Traditional Frameworks Yields New Solutions

Wilfried Pimenta with the IOTA Foundation spoke about how, as cities adopt more connected technology – which then results in a proliferation of data, the role of the individual will change and drive new approaches and new economic models.

“With IoT, the data will move beyond contained silos and this will enable a new level of transformation. This creates a form of value that is much more open,” said Pimenta.

He went on to explain an emerging disruptive force that is dependent on Digital Trust and enabled by blockchain. With this next phase of innovation, users will be at the center of their personalized, secure data. 

“You can only create value in data if you can secure it. We must move beyond systems that are hack-able. Once the data is secure, only then can you truly monetize it. And it will be up to the user to determine that,” he said.

Pimenta shared some concrete examples of how interconnected and autonomous devices will drive fundamental shifts in the sector of energy. For example, embracing digital, smart, off-grid systems can enable cities to bypass traditional infrastructure and bureaucratic organizations and instead move toward models of self-sufficiency. This opens up the opportunity for micropayments, which incentivize users to contribute to the grid during times when energy is most needed and use energy during times of surplus. The ability to leverage technology to change human behavior is the very definition of disruption.

Leadership Must Evolve

Technology has evolved our daily experience into one that is user-centric and which enables new levels of experience and opportunities. These changes also impact governance,  forcing new approaches to policy and process. Most people – and this includes city leaders accustomed to a rigid system of rules and regulations – have a hard time adjusting.

More than technical know-how, today’s leaders need support in the business of transformation, managing uncertainty, learning how to encourage collaboration and incentivizing risk taking. People must transform as technology evolves. Government systems have been built around sourcing, selecting, and implementing technical solutions instead of concentrating on the longer term implications. Dr. Hochadel gave an example: “Instead of sourcing the next parking app, we should be thinking about how we connect people across places.”

These topics on innovation, the impact of connected devices, the role of data, and the transformation of cities, organizations, individuals and even economic models are the topics of our time. This panel of world experts showcased just a glimpse of the tremendous depth of discussion at the World Smart City Expo. The speakers were selected for their experience implementing strategic solutions in and across communities. The information they shared went far beyond hypotheticals or small-scale pilots.

From keynote speaker, Richard Florida, to business match-making events to esteemed panels and presentations, world-class conferences crucially continue to identify and address our greatest global challenges. The richness of interaction and the opportunity to understand diverse approaches and perspectives places the World Smart City Expo in an elite list of top global smart cities conferences.