The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure… Come to SmartCity Expo World CongressDates29 November – 2 December 2011 /Gran Via Exhibition CentreExhibition sectors
Energy and Sustainability
Mobility and Transport
Environment and Recycling
ICT and Research
Urban Planning and ICT Infrastructure
Governance and Funding
Mobility and Transportation
City Case Studies
People and Living
Innovative and integrated vision
Thanks to modern technology, cities can now be converted into sensory beings that communicate their needs and their responses to certain scenarios in real time. In order to efficiently respond to challenges in areas such as transit, energy and environmental protection, tomorrow’s cities must establish systems capable of handling the massive amount of data generated by their residents and infrastructure.This is one of the fundamental ideas behind the concept of a Smart City, a moniker proudly used by cities that wish to demonstrate their commitment to employing innovative measures to improve the lives of their residents. It is also the leitmotif of this first Smart City World Congress, held in Barcelona, and was the central theme of the talk given by keynote speaker Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT.
Real-time response to data
Ratti began his talk by comparing the changes that began in Formula 1 racing 20 years ago to the changes that cities will undergo. At that time, engineers sought higher-performing motors and better aerodynamics. However, these advances alone were not enough to guarantee victory: every Formula 1 team now collects and analyzes data on hundreds of parameters relating to the vehicle, the track and the racing conditions, in order to make the best decisions at every instant. According to Rotti, the cities of the future will have to function analogously. Urban centers already generate thousands of data points in real time; thus, all they need now is systems to capture and crunch these data, so that they can respond accordingly.To illustrate the potential of this concept, Ratti shared results from various projects being undertaken at the SENSEable City Lab. In one example, he showed a map of Spain in which credit card activity had been tracked, revealing the intensity and type of commerce transactions over the course of several days. Another map indicated the path traveled by different types of waste that had been deposited in receptacles equipped with GPS sensors. Another interesting case was that of a telephone conversation map of the UK in which “real communities” were drawn: the resulting frontiers did not coincide with existing administrative or political boundaries.
How to adopt the Smart City mentality
Following the stimulating visual presentation by Carlo Ratti was the plenary session, in which various experts discussed the best ways for cities to adopt the vision that he had outlined.The session began with a comment by its moderator, Joan Majó, chairman of Knowledge Circle: “Tools are just tools; the results depend on how you use these tools”.Speaking along the same lines, Jonathan Warenham, director of the Information Management department at ESADE, affirmed that the role of technology is a “given” and emphasized the importance of fomenting creation of the services that technology makes possible. He referred to the possibilities offered by open platforms as a motor for open innovation initiatives, while highlighting potential challenges related to transparency, privacy and improper use of information.
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