Smart City Expo 2023 Outlines a New Urban Era in a Record-breaking Edition

2nd Nov, 2023

Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), the leading international event on cities and smart urban solutions organised by Fira de Barcelona will kick off next Tuesday, November 7, with a record-breaking edition. Under the theme “The New Urban Era” the show and congress will bring together over 1,000 exhibitors and representatives from 800 cities to share their latest projects and solutions aimed at using new technologies such as AI to take a much-need leap towards more sustainable cities and make smart cities even smarter.

The event will become the largest global showcase of innovative urban solutions and projects focusing on strategies to transform current metropolises into more sustainable, efficient, and livable spaces. To achieve this goal, SCEWC will structure its Congress program in eight main tracks: Enabling Technologies, Energy & Environment, Mobility, Governance & Economy, Living & Inclusion, Infrastructure & Buildings, Safety & Security, and Blue Economy.

Amongst the highlights are the keynotes from the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Airbnb, Nathan Blecharczyk, who will discuss how the company faces the future, and FC Barcelona, whose president Joan Laporta will explain how the football club is leading the urban transformation of the surroundings of its stadium. Other keynote speakers include computer scientist and expert in Algorithmic bias Margaret Mitchell who works on shaping AI towards long-term positive goals; AI-specialised lawyer Micaela Mantegna; and former UK Minister for Energy & Clean Growth and sustainable development expert, Claire O’Neill.

The event’s director, Ugo Valenti, said that “The 2023 edition of Smart City Expo will be the biggest ever. The numbers prove that urban innovation ecosystem is in full force again. Amid the so-called Decade of Action, it is time to speed up urban transformation worldwide. We must future-proof our cities so they can effectively become more sustainable, efficient, and livable. Many are already on this path, and the event is a chance to contribute to this goal.”

Innovation showcase

SCEWC will feature a fully booked floorspace, with companies such as AWS, Aramco, Axis, Cisco, Dassault Systemes, Dell, Deloitte, FCC, Honeywell, Microsoft, Nvidia, PWC, Roshn, Siemens, Smart Ports: Piers of the Future, and Veolia. The event will also include pavilions from countries and cities from around the world including Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nordics, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and USA, among others.

To showcase examples of tangible innovations that are reshaping the urban landscape, SCEWC is including a Demo Area with almost 20 examples of solutions being deployed in cities worldwide. Among these products feature ai-equipped electric scooters, modular cabins capable of creating workspaces in public areas, AI smart waste bins that sort out waste by themselves, self-driving shuttles for public transportation, space-efficient foldable cars, and drones ready to delivers goods and pharmaceutical supplies.

Capital city of cities

Barcelona will become once again the Capital of smart cities during SCEWC. The event will bring together representatives from 800 cities from 140 countries. Among the highest ranking representatives are over 50 mayors, including Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris (France); Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens (Greece); Pablo Javkin, Mayor of Rosario (Argentina); Kenneth Sim, Mayor of Vancouver (Canada); Mihhail Kölvart, Mayor of Tallin (Estonia); Daithí De Róiste, Mayor of Dublin (Ireland); Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston (USA); and Sang-jin Shin, Mayor of Seongam (Republic of South Korea).

As a loudspeaker for city governments, SCEWC will be the stage where a group of European mayors, from cities such as Barcelona, Bilbao, Ghent, Malaga, Milan, Oulu, Paris, Sant Boi, Tallinn and Tirana among others, and with the collaboration of Eurocities network will formally present the Barcelona Declaration “European Cities for European Policymaking and Democracy”. This is a declaration of European city governments to strengthen their participation in EU policymaking and European democracy. By this announcement, European Mayors request to create a Council of Cities at a European level. This Council aims at contributing to establish a formal role for cities within the EU governance architecture.

Along these lines, Barcelona will also be the stage of the World Smart City Awards that acknowledge the most outstanding initiatives and projects in the innovation and urban transformation industry. With a total of 411 entries from 63 countries, the 12th edition of these accolades is the biggest to date. The winners of the 10 categories featured – City, Leadership, Innovation, Enabling Technologies project, Energy & Environment project, Mobility project, Governance & Economy project, Living & Inclusion project Infrastructure & Buildings project, and Safety & Security project – will be announced during a special gala hosted on the evening of Wednesday, November 8th.

Global Innovation Hub

In addition, Tomorrow.Mobility World Congress, Tomorrow.Building, Tomorrow.Blue Economy –focusing on the opportunities of the blue economy–, and PuzzleX will be held alongside SCEWC to strengthen the role of the event and Barcelona as a global hub of smart solutions and provide answers to these the challenges faced by today's cities.

Tomorrow.Mobility will hold its third edition with the aim of accelerating the transition to sustainable urban mobility. Under the slogan "Make your Move Matter" the event, jointly organised by Fira Barcelona and EIT Urban Mobility, will focus on eight fundamental aspects for the transformation of urban mobility: Mobility Data Spaces, Inclusivity, Affordability and Equity, Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility, Sustainable Urban Logistics, Multimodality, Urban Air Mobility, Energy Transition, and Active Mobility.

Tomorrow.Building is a new space focused on transforming the construction industry towards a more sustainable and digitalised horizon. Major companies and experts such as Samsung C&T, Siemens, Samoo Architects & Engineers, Bioo, CBRE or Drees & Sommer, will showcase their latest developments. Topics such as digital and sustainable construction, building renovation and decarbonisation, smart buildings and infrastructure, and PropTech will be the themes at the heart of the conference.

PUZZLE X is set to return to Barcelona to explore exponential technologies that promise to reshape the future in unprecedented ways. Topics to be discussed include Exotic Computing, Embodied AI, Quantum Cities, Ultimate Connectivity, Matterverse, Brain interfaces, DNA Data Storage, 6G, and Digital Atoms. The conferences will feature speakers such as Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose; Christian Larsson, CIO of UNIVEF; Robin Saxby, Founding CEO & Chairman of ARM; and Johanna Sepúlveda, Chief Engineer at Airbus, among others.

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