By: Ugo Valenti
Director of Smart City Expo World Congress
The world is changing. In just a few decades, rapid urbanization has reshaped the face of our planet, concentrating people in large metropolises, consuming resources at an unprecedented pace. This poises unprecedented challenges for society. From climate change to technological advancements, cities must adapt to ensure sustainability and the well-being of their residents. Now, in the midst of what the United Nations has called the Decade of Action, it is more clear than ever that it will be during our lifetime that we will determine how this new urban world will look like and with it the future of humankind.
By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas, compared to 55% in 2018. This puts immense pressure on cities and if we fail to address this transformation effectively, we risk creating metropolises troubled by overcrowding, inefficient infrastructure, and environmental degradation.
This is where smart cities and urban innovation play a vital role. The concept of smart cities revolves around harnessing the power of technology, data, and above all citizens to create sustainable, efficient, and inclusive urban environments. The true essence of a smart city lies in putting people at the forefront. It is about leveraging technology to address the needs and aspirations of citizens, empowering them to actively participate in the decision-making process. By fostering citizen-centric approaches, we can ensure that the benefits of urban innovation are equitably distributed and that no one is left behind.
Cities also play a crucial role in mitigating climate change and this means reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy, and implementing sustainable transportation systems. Equally important is the theme of inclusivity. In the new urban era, no city can thrive without ensuring equal access to opportunities and resources for all its inhabitants. Topics such as affordable housing, digital inclusion, and accessible urban design must be at the center of the debate.
To achieve these goals and guarantee a better future for the generations to come we have a powerful ally: Technology. The rise of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and data analytics, cities have the potential to become smarter and more efficient than ever before. Transforming them into better places is no longer a choice but a necessity, and the importance of smart cities and urban innovation cannot be overstated.
The upcoming edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress, held in Barcelona from November 7th to 9th will be the biggest to date and will see the return in full force of the urban innovation ecosystem. Held together with co-located events such as Tomorrow.Building, Tomorrow.Mobility and Tomorrow.BlueEconomy it will strengthen its role as a global hub of smart solutions capable of providing answers to the crucial challenges facing today’s cities. With over 25,000 professional attendees and 1,000 exhibitors taking part in, the event will connect leaders from the most innovative companies, governments and organizations to move cities towards a better future, to collectively pave the way for the New Urban Era that is coming.