The final day of this year’s Smart City Miami Expo started off with a conversation from Alissa Farina, Resilience Programs Manager at the City of Miami
Local case studies with global impact
The final day of this year’s Smart City Miami Expo started off with a conversation from Alissa Farina, Resilience Programs Manager at the City of Miami. She discussed how to integrate equity into climate planning. “Climate is a threat multiplier,” Farina noted, describing how existing threats like inequality are made worse by the impact of climate change. She emphasized that major swaths of Miami are socially vulnerable to climate change, according to the CDC, and advocated for proactive – rather than reactive – approaches to mitigating the issues brought on by climate change.
Later in the day, attendees learned about a situation happening a few thousand miles across the Atlantic. Yuriy Nazarov, former CIO of the City of Kyiv (Ukraine), shared insights from the city’s various smart cities initiatives. According to Nazarov, the city saved more than $500 million across five years by implementing a digital platform for public procurement processes. The funds saved from this digital transformation project were spent on other initiatives to improve the quality of life of Kyiv’s citizens.
Anja Wyden Guelpa, who worked in government for 20 years and served as former State Chancellor of Geneva, spoke on the “innovation guerilla against bureaucracy.” In her estimation, the public sector itself should transform to spur innovation.
Focus on transportation
Mobility was a major theme present across many talks on Friday. Dr. Richard Ezike presented his research into self-driving cars, which he argued: “have the potential to dramatically change cities and towns.” Ezike underscored the importance of creating policies to govern vehicles, roads, and transit systems in this new era of autonomous vehicles. Learn more about where self-driving cars are taking us by reading a report he co-authored for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Don’t forget about bikes! Eyal Santos presented the transformative power of bikes and e-cargo bikes. He noted that e-cargo bikes can be an efficient way to distribute goods around urban environments, replacing less environmentally-friendly vehicles. Santos also showed data revealing that transitioning from diesel to electric vehicles is not as green as you might expect, and that pedal power is the best alternative in many cases. He also pointed out the economic benefits of biking: cities that make streets more welcoming to bike use see a rise in foot traffic for local shops.
Building resilient communities
Again, the focus on building resilient communities was top-of-mind for today’s presenters. Jordi Pascual outlined the value of creating circular economies, which capture the value of resources without generating any waste. He called cities “hot spots of impact, consumption, and opportunities” for enabling the shift towards circular economies.
Alex Shalash from Uevo revealed how digital twin technology can unlock opportunities for cities to make better planning decisions. Through their platform, stakeholders can convene in a virtual environment to better understand and improve the built environment, especially in hard-to-reach areas like subsurface infrastructure.
Alfred Poor presented how health tech will make cities smarter and more inclusive, while Lexie Assunto shared how communities can invest in our collective future through smart and sustainable tourism.
Financing green resilient urban infrastructure is key, asserted Julia Ambrosano. She highlighted a few areas in which investments can have a major impact on citizen lives, like through low-carbon transport. Ambrosano also explained that investing in bonds going towards the development of resilient infrastructure projects can help investors ensure that their funds are going to be used effectively.
Finnish artist and entrepreneur Daniel Bumann presented on ‘pocket parks,’ which are easily deployable structures that fill urban spaces and provide a place for the community to sit and interact with each other. These simple, elegant modules promote the circular economy and bring greenery into urban spaces.