Smarter Cities and the Internet of Things: open, democratic, flexible and bold

By Katy Barbier-Greenland, Global Executive Events Conference Producer.


It’s simply not enough to use the old ‘top-down’ approach, with government and municipal leaders setting out requirements that citizens must follow. Instead, smart cities take a much more collaborative and open approach, actively engaging citizens and all different sectors in dialogue and collaborating with them to create and plan their futures, together. Technologies are evolving rapidly, but so are the expectations of residents and visitors to cities. We must respond with an increased capacity, shedding silos and joining together to create efficiencies and unlocking value to ensure we remain dynamic and agile, ensuring our cities enable the best possible way of life.

While the challenges are there, equally opportunities exist. The Unleashing Innovation in Smart City and IoT summit brought together leaders from all around Europe to engage with some of these issues, helping delegates prepare for a connected and open future.

Selected Summit Snippets

As part of the summit, we enjoyed a fabulous ‘hour of power’ with our expert panellists from Belgium, Finland and Denmark, who brought considered responses and expertise from their work over decades in research, project management, policy and strategy work in a range of areas plus their current roles in leadership. The expert panel of four included Ann De Jonghe (Smart City Coordinator, City of Antwerp), Carolina Benjaminsen (Ph.D. in Technology & Learning and CEO, Ørestad Innovation City Copenhagen),Catharina Høgdal (Project Coordinator, Ørestad Innovation City Copenhagen) and Jaana Kokkonen (Senior Advisor EU Affairs, Helsinki EU Office & Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council).

The expert panel delved into a number of key issues including innovation and collaboration across public and private sectors; industries as drivers for change; and how we might disrupt traditional balances of power between corporations and municipalities.

Karl-Filip Coenegrachts (Chief Strategy Officer, City of Ghent) rounded out the summit with insights from his leadership in Ghent over the past fifteen years, consolidating hundreds of ad-hoc initiatives and objectives into a single, streamlined and targeted strategy. Consolidating this work enabled the creation of a vision, underpinned by a smart eco-system, that’s seeing positive outcomes throughout the city, and which continues to build momentum. The City Of People vision engages residents in dialogue to create and contribute to the future of their city. This scenario could be seen by other cities large and small as a kind of testing-ground, a successful case study example of a successful smart city approach – watch this space!

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