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Smart City 2023 shows a Barcelona at the forefront of urban innovation

The city shared its focus on urban innovation and its goal of building a climate-neutral, competitive and equitable city with all visitors to the Smart City Expo World Congress.

20/11/2023 - 11:38 h

On 7, 8 and 9 November, Barcelona participated in the Smart City Expo World Congress, a prominent international fair on cities and urban innovation organised by Fira de Barcelona in conjunction with the city. More than 800 cities from 140 countries participated, along with 1,100 exhibitors, almost 600 speakers and more than 25,300 visitors.

With the slogan ‘Barcelona shaping urban futures. Step into the city of tomorrow’, the city’s stand showed the vision of the city which will give shape to its future through ambitious, transformative projects to build a climate-neutral, competitive and equitable city. It was exemplified by around 30 proposals which emerged from the innovation that is being promoted in all areas of the City Council.

A showcase to the world

During the Congress, the City Council welcomed 14 delegations from different cities in countries like Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Japan, South Korea, Uruguay and Malaysia, along with the EU Mission Board for Smart and Climate-Neutral Cities, among others, who wanted to learn firsthand how Barcelona is harnessing the new technologies to improve everyone’s quality of life and create future opportunities.

The International Economic Promotion team at the City Council welcomed 58 international delegations interested in learning about the economic policies and services like the ones offered by Barcelona Activa and the 22@ innovation district, as well as attracting international talent. This year, the Asian delegations, especially those from South Korea, and the Europeans were the largest ones.

Additionally, the City Council also welcomed visitors and delegations interested in learning about specific projects like the urban innovation challenges promoted by BIT Habitat. This Foundation met with delegations from Portland, Poznan and Rzeszow (Poland), along with Puerto Rico and the Japanese studio Signing LTD. The City Council also hosted three delegations: the United Kingdom, Bloomberg Associates and EISMEA and CAPITAL, as representatives of the urban innovation area in different European cities.

The Municipal Institute of Information Technology met with another 26 delegations, including ones from Kobe, Riga, Montpellier, Marrakesh and Tokyo. At these meetings, they presented the different lines that are furthering the city’s digital transformation efforts to make it more technological and keep citizens at the core by improving their lives and generating future opportunities.

These meetings highlighted the tools that the city of Barcelona is currently working on to become a pioneer in the digital transformation, including digital replicas of the city or Digital Twins, which help with the future design, construction and operation of the city; the Lordimas project, a free interactive online tool meant to help cities apply the digital transformation and qualitatively compare themselves with other cites; and finally, the EDIC (European Digital Infrastructure Consortium), an instrument promoted by the European Commission that consists of creating a toolkit that can be used by the services in the consortium, along with member states and cities, within the context of Digital Twins.

Project amplification and presentation

The Agora space in the city’s stand was also a showcase for presenting and debating Barcelona’s most innovative projects with attendees. Eighteen examples were showcased in interactive presentations that included networking technologies to encourage debate.

The main projects presented included artificial intelligence applied to social services, Barcelona’s commitment to become a carbon-neutral city, the most innovative electric mobility ideas and the digital transformation applied to urban planning and road safety.

The BIT Habitat Foundation also participated by presenting the City Council’s urban innovation strategy and the winning proposals of the urban challenge ‘Concrete Slabs of the Twenty-first Century to make more sustainable, lasting and permeable concrete slabs while maintaining the same iconic design as always. It also presented the new ‘Sports Circuits with a Gender Perspective’ ideas competition, which aims to find new solutions to ensure that the urban sports circuits for walking and running are used and enjoyed under conditions of equality, safety and autonomy.

Barcelona Activa presented the Connectio service, which connects companies through open innovation, and in addition to outlining the Digital Twins: Digital replicas of our city at the Agora within the stand at the Smart City Expo World Congress, the Municipal Institute of Information Technology, BSC and the Riken Centre for Computational Science presented how supercomputers can model and promote real solutions to urban problems. Specifically, Barcelona presented its 15-minute city initiative to be implemented in Kobe. In turn, the Japanese city showed a traffic simulation and how it can be applied in Barcelona.

Barcelona entrepreneurship showcase

The nine companies chosen by Barcelona Activa had a city stand where they could showcase the projects they are currently conducting in the city. They included Seabots, which was able to show its sea drone that monitors water quality; Sitep, with its helicopter drone designed and built in Barcelona with an onboard camera that can recognise and identify people; and Akrovalis Tannus, with its 100% anti-puncture tyres for urban bicycles.

We are participating in designing the cities of tomorrow

The Barcelona City Council also participated in the Smart City Expo’s side congress entitled ‘Tomorrow Mobility’, organised by Fira de Barcelona and Europe’s EIT Urban Mobility programme, whose goal is to promote the acceleration of sustainable, smart urban mobility.

In this space, the BIT Habitat Foundation presented its challenge to improve the bus network service in Barcelona as part of the Barcelona Innova Lab Mobility, which aims to make the bus network more sustainable, safe, functional and equitable. It plans to launch this challenge in 2024.

Plus, Barcelona Activa also promoted Tomorrow Blue Economy, organised in conjunction with Fira de Barcelona, the Port of Barcelona, the World Ocean Council (WOC) and Smart Ports. This is a congress to promote and develop the potential of the blue economy and foster the preservation of marine resources.