The Smart City Event 2014 – a reflection

On Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th of May the Smart City Event took place in the Amsterdam Arena, one of the smartest stadiums of Europe. It has sensors, solar arrays, smart IT applications in the field of crowd management and energy grids. It’s a very appropriate location for a smart...

Opening 2On Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th of May the Smart City Event took place in the Amsterdam Arena, one of the smartest stadiums of Europe. It has sensors, solar arrays, smart IT applications in the field of crowd management and energy grids. It’s a very appropriate location for a smart city event and visitors from all over the World showed it to the world in many pictures circulating in Twitter these days.

Last year in my blog about the 2013 Event I commented on how smart means more than sustainable. This year it seems to have landed: many people wrote blogs and books on Smart Cities and now there is a wide variety on smart subjects.

The keynote speakers who opened the event this year were impressive:

  • Anthony Townsend (Senior Research Scientist at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management)
  • Carlo Ratti (Director, MIT SENSEable City Lab)
  • Rob van Gijzel (Mayor, City of Eindhoven)
  • Dan Hill (Executive Director of Futures at the UK’s Future Cities Catapult)

The program was very inspirational and very tight. There wasn’t much room for intensification, which I regretted. I also noticed that “smart” at this point means basically the extension of current trends, like smart grids, e-transportation, smart lightning and smart mobility.

dia waar geld op inzetten komende periodeI was happy to see that people are more and more the center of these developments, rather than technology. The social side is highly emphasized in these stories. On the second day “smart health” was even a separate subject of discussion: perfect!

But what about the real new innovations like 3D printing and the major influence/ impact it will have on people and the city? Apart from a wonderful trip to the 3D printed Canal House in Amsterdam North it was hardly touched upon.

Or how about robotics that will be booming next ten years? Already people are able to live autonomous with the aid of robotic implementation. Next years I believe this will shift from the industrial area to home applications.

Apart from the interest in current issues, I would love to see more attention for these upcoming trends that will have a big impact on several aspects of smart cities. Many participants around me commented on how “Smart City” should be looked at in a holistic way (see also http://www.smartcityevent.com/smart-city-radar-tool-awareness-dialogue-action/ ): technology connects people and cities on more than one level.

Event round tableYet I understand that for now people are looking for the tried and trusted examples, in this crazy era of instable economics looking for certainty and moneymaking concepts is what’s on top of their minds. But this is exactly why –by focusing on separate examples – the wider perspective is absent. Issues like 3D printing and the changing chain of production in cities, or robotics and its liberations for this society of obsolescence…. that’s where the opportunities lie.

I’d love to see more of this: the connecting of short and longer-term views. In my opinion a challenge for all those interested in smart cities!

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