The message in Barcelona was, with so many challenging issues facing us, all cities have to work together
You turn your back for a few days and all hell breaks loose. Is going on holiday worth it? Absolutely, especially if it is India around the anniversary of demonetarisation which threw up some energetic discussions in the press, in the cafes and on the beaches. After which, it was straight onto Barcelona to the Smart City Expo World Congress, where the sense of the growing momentum in the smart city movement was very apparent.
The message in Barcelona was, with so many challenging issues facing us, all cities have to work together and core to this is citizen engagement. Collaboration is our greatest strength and local-based activity can doubtlessly make a global impact.
One of the biggest takeaways for me (apart from the Hyperloop announcement at the conference that it’s just five years away) is to do with governance. Break the four-year political cycles and start looking at the much longer term i.e 25-year planning cycles that can’t be dismantled by successors. Taking this thought further, I’m also throwing in making the office of governance greater than the person who sits in it. Go beyond party politics and put the state of the nation and by default, the planet first.
During the time of the Barcelona Expo, over 15,000 of the world’s scientists gave a catastrophic warning in a new ‘letter to humanity’, an update on an original letter sent by the Union of Concerned Scientists back in 1992. Rather than the planetary scenario improving, things are looking pretty dire. All issues identified 25 years ago have become a great deal worse – apart from the holes in the Ozone layer – a sign of hope that we can reverse situations, if we focus.
The smart city movement can certainly galvanise us all to get our act together but time is of the essence. As this affecting letter says: “We must recognise, in our day- to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”