Reflecting on Smart City World Congress 2022: Delivering Smart Solutions for All

We’re still coming down from the high and excitement of the recent Smart City World Congress event in Barcelona (14-17th November 2022), which was jam-packed with valuable seminars, networking and diverse learning opportunities.

Over 20,000 people attended in person and a further 21,000 online – the scale of this event is unrivalled in smart city and digital tech global circles. Our Chief Executive, Patrick Melia, alongside our Director of Smart Cities, Liz St Louis, were honoured to not just attend, but present in front of crowds of people at this prestigious event.

To extend the positive impact of this incredible event, we have collated some thought-provoking takeaways from Patrick and Liz in this blog.

Future ready

Building the resilience of our residents and businesses is key to their future success. In an increasingly digital world, equipping people with the skills that they need to compete, whilst boosting businesses’ growth prospects with the infrastructure and connectivity that they need to thrive, are critical components in our drive to deliver digital services to all.

The impact that smart solutions can bring at a community and an individual level were prevalent across the World Congress sessions, with countless examples of the power of digital progress for people and places.

Patrick Melia said: “The breadth and scale of the Expo was incredible. I’ve never seen an exhibition area quite like it, with so many main stage and fringe events going on across the three days.”

An example that Patrick shared with a global audience at the event was progress at our university as we pursue research projects into robotics and drone usage using our 5G smart city infrastructure, whilst the council, BAI Communications and the University of Sunderland are enabling students to reap the benefits of a more connected experience.

Patrick added: “There is no other event where you can hear and see this diversity of businesses, projects and positive impact under one roof.”

Inspirational highlights

Technology is advancing and supporting progress across our cities at a rapid rate. We are extremely proud of our achievements to date in Sunderland, and very excited for what’s to come in our evolving smart city.

Our unique partnership with BAI Communications to build the UK’s smartest city is set to continue apace in 2023 as we advance new investments and initiatives.

The examples we shared at the event, included: Assistive Technology in homes to support some of our most vulnerable residents and revolutionise how people are cared for via the power of 5G connectivity; to 5G technology enabling us to train the next generation in an immersive HUB and BIM studio, equipping them with the skills needed to utilise 5G for 3D modelling; and our new 5G enabled Culture House, where we will be embedding holograms and avatars into live streaming and simulcasting to communities, creating immersive, virtual experiences.

Liz St Louis said: “For me the highlights were the number of very relevant speakers talking about the tangible difference smart solutions are making to industry verticals and across whole cities on a global scale.

“The networking opportunities were also incredibly valuable as were the impromptu meetups. I was honoured to meet with a wide variety of established businesses, city representatives and tech start-ups – such diversity and such great learning.”

Liz added: “I came away from the event feeling like we really are at the dawn of a more sustainable and inclusive world, driven by changemakers who are prioritising people and places, underpinned by technology and the power of digital progress.

“I’ve brought home a much richer understanding of initiatives that have worked elsewhere, and I feel inspired to expand our own city plans to empower our residents and businesses with the skills, knowledge and opportunities they deserve.”

Tech for good

Our future is inevitably urban, and increasingly reliant on digital technology. Future-proofing our cities should focus on a number of factors, including our people and our environment, as well as consideration for improving user experiences and convenience, plus functional benefits such as operational cost saving opportunities and freeing up resources.

Smart City World Congress offers so much to see and do. It helps city leaders and partners to share best practice, progress each city’s ambitions and open up opportunities for residents the world over.

We’ll certainly embed learnings from this incredible event to further enhance our future plans and ambitions. And with inspiration at every step, we’ll definitely be returning to Smart City World Congress 2023!

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