It is not easy nowadays to organise a fair which has seen visitors grow by double digits in relation to 2011. Fira de Barcelona has managed this thanks to a sector which has shown that it has plenty to offer to improve the quality of life and the efficiency of the 21st century cities.
The figures from the 2012 Barcelona Smart City Expo mean a lot for the future of our economy. During a period during which pessimism appears to be determining all of our strategic decisions, a fair comes to Catalonia with solutions for the cities of the future and sees a 7,000 increase in visitors, almost 15% more than in 2011, while those attending the organised conferences increased by almost 50%.
> Another interesting fact to point out is where the visitors came from, 82 countries, which is a clear sign of the events prestige and its capacity of attraction. In short: good sensations, satisfied exhibitors and very high level conferences which sought answers to key aspects of the transformation and future of the cities. Amongst the speakers at the sessions, we could highlight amongst others Carlo Ratti, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) SENSEable City Lab; Charles Landry, economist specialising in urban development and founder of Comedia; and Ricky Burdett, urban planning architect and lecturer at the London School of Economics. A total of 3,055 people attended the conferences (46.7% more than in 2011) to follow the talks and debates. Furthermore, cities from the five continents participated at the conferences like for example Birmingham, Bogotá, Boston, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Durban, Fukushima, Guangzhou, Haifa, Helsinki, Kansas City, New Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Santander, Sydney, Tokyo, Vancouver, Vienna and Yokohama. The event welcomed participants from a total of 1,781 municipalities from around the world.
In the right place at the right time
Satisfied faces, lively stands and, above all, general satisfaction at being in the right place at the right time. The exhibitors at the Smart City Congress in Barcelona have left with a good feeling and convinced that this competition provides an essential opportunity for those who are committing to this broad sector in which technology and sustainability play an essential role in the development of smart cities.
Schneider Electricsstand was one of the most active and most visited. Speaking with
Josep Maria Peir, Marketing and Comunicacion director of the companys Infrastructure and Industry department, he confessed to us that coming to the fair once a year involves a very significant effort for a company, but we believe that this effort is worth it. This year has been very good and now we are going on a world tour to attract clients from cities around the world. Peir praised the organization:Fira de Barcelona has made a very significant effort to attract potential foreign investors and clients. We have seen many Japanese and Israelis interested in the water treatment and collection processes: representatives from South American cities, above all Colombia and Venezuela, who are looking for smart solutions. At the end, thanks to all of these, we have calculated that one day before the close of the fair we have already doubled the number of visits we had last year.
Talking about foreign visitors, we can stress the presence of the official delegation from Bogotá , the capital city of Colombia. This city’s counsellor for New Technologies, Mauricio Trujillo, stated thatat Smart City Expo World Congress, Colombia has been able, first of all, to understand to what extent the ICT can be a useful tool to overcome social exclusion. Secondly, to obtain allies which allow us to promote urban projects through the collaboration between universities, public administrations and companies and, finally, to place the city of Bogota as a smart cities reference in South America".
Smart car park management
One of the issues which attracted most attention during the event was mobility and, in particular, the car park management systems. There were two very interesting proposals in this area: the Via T solution from Saba and the ParkHelp sensores.
Saba presented its Via T system, similar to the system used in the motorway tollbooths:This is a smart solution for different reasons, we were told at the Saba stand, above all because it reduces the waiting times. And it is sustainable because with this system we save in CO2 emissions and in paper, i.e. the car park tickets. Saba also presented its new jewel: the Villa Borghese car park in the centre of Rome: This is a car park with 2000 spaces where the construction work includes a People Mover connection to the nearby Piazza del Popolo and, the smartest feature, the spaces prepared for electric cars".
ParkHelp, a Catalan company set up in 2006 to offer urban mobility solutions and intelligent guided systems, repeats its presence at the Barcelona fair to present its new projects and products. As regards the Barcelona fair, its spokesperson explained to us that this year we found it it more international: many countries and cities from around the world have been here and have been interested in real solutions for smart cities. The public is increasingly more specific and with decision-making capacity: those responsible for mobility and public works, mayors, town and city councils, etc. The organisation has also been exceptional and the speakers top class. Very interesting solutions have been presented in all areas. The spokesperson from Parkhelp adds another general remark:I consider that the sector is growing and this year 2012 has been a watershed moment to place smart cities as part of the solution to care for our urban centres. As such, he concludes, parking is one of the key problems of our 21st century cities and solutions like ours have been very well received