RGCL Project & Marketing Officer, Iain Mansell, travelled to Barcelona with a team of colleagues from University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton City Council to attend the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) held at Fira Barcelona. Joining a total of 14,288 attendees, 485 exhibitors and 421 speakers from 568 Cities around the globe the team networked to share knowledge and learn about innovative projects showcasing how to create efficient, sustainable and liveable cities. The congress brought together over 400 global influencers and innovators to share knowledge, debate the challenges faced by our cities, encourage out of the box thinking and inspire a worldwide call for action in order to develop smarter and more sustainable cities.
Guided by media agency Contented the team went through a process aimed to help individuals and organisations evolve in the face of global change. You can see the teams initial interviews here:
Reflecting on the first day at the expo Jay Patel, Business Support & Investment Manager at Wolverhampton City Council, said: “I was pleased at the mix of city councils, private sector infrastructure companies, smaller international companies and government agencies such as UKTI at the expo. The mix of these companies gave me confidence that a partnership of stakeholders could be put together for a Smart project in the city of Wolverhampton. Furthermore, the city council could fulfil its role as a change agent in the process. The themes that we have been discussing are well represented. My discussions have proved very fruitful. This will help to create impact in the city of Wolverhampton.” Paul Burrows, University of Wolverhampton Business Solutions, added: “I was impressed with the range of both the number of companies exhibiting at the Expo, and those that are involved with the various aspects of the ‘security’ of the transmission and storage of data in the city. My discussions with these companies indicated their willingness to partner with the university and council on a Smart project.”
In addition to visiting SCEWC the team visited the department of technology at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in the city’s innovation district ’22@Barcelona’. A project which transforms two hundred hectares of industrial land of Poblenou into an innovative district offering modern spaces for the strategic concentration of intensive knowledge-based activities. This initiative is also a project of urban refurbishment and a new model of city providing a response to the challenges posed by the knowledge-based society. Billed as the most important project of urban transformation in Barcelona city of the last years and one of the most ambitious of Europe of these characteristics, with high real estate potential and a 180 million Euros public investment of infrastructure plan.
Further meetings took place with Barcelona FC and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona School of Engineering which gave the team plenty of advice and guidance on Smart City best practice:
Returning back to the UK the team have joined forces with other key stakeholders in the region to establish the Black Country Smart City Network.
The Black Country Smart City Network recognises that digital technology and data lie at the heart of a Smart City and that their full utilisation can benefit the economy, people and the environment. A full Smart City provides a long term, sustainable vision of a healthy, prosperous and inclusive city with a quality urban environment and range of services which make them attractive places to live, work, visit and invest. In essence a ‘Smart City’ is a ‘Sustainable City’ which utilises digital technology and data to its maximum potential.
The Network provides a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas around both the Smart City concept and individual initiatives. If you would like to get involved please contact Iain Mansell either via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone: 01902 321629.