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Reflecting on the Smart City 360° Summit 2015

Four days, three venues and an almost overwhelming amount of ideas floating around – that was the Smart City 360° Summit 2015. Between 13 and 16 October 2015, experts from around the world met in Bratislava and Toronto to explore and discuss the future of Smart Cities. Organized by EAI in collaboration with the Slovak University of Technology, and with the patronage of the Vice President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic, and the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, the summit was one of the major international events on Smart Cities.

The Summit speaker list included such distinguished names as Robert Redhammer (Rector of the Slovak University of Technology) with his opening speech, David Mair (Acting Director for Policy Support Coordination, DG Joint Research Centre, European Commission), Rastislav Chovanec (State Secretary, Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic), Tamas Vahl (Smarter Cities and EMF Pursuit Lead, IBM Central and Eastern Europe), Harald Baur (Networked Society Evangelist and Strategic Marketing Manager, Ericsson), Pavol Adamec (Director, Assurance, Risk Management, Information Technology, PwC Slovakia), Simon Sicko (CEO of Pixel Federation), Manfred Schrenk (Competence Center for Urban and Regional Planning, Vienna), Mario Paroha (Head of Research at the GreenWay Operator), Lukas Stockinger (Communications Officer, Smart City Wien Agency), Massimo Craglia (Digital Earth and Reference Data Unit, Joint Research Centre, EC), and many others.

If there was any one idea that kept coming up repeatedly during nearly every session, it was that we need to think much bigger when we think about Smart Cities. Many speakers and panellists have made a strong point that when we talk about Smart Cities, too often do we focus on the technology behind smart devices and smart infrastructure, but in the process neglect the concept of smart people.

Developing conscious citizenship, educating individuals ready for the future job market and encouraging social innovation in an increasingly technology-driven world – these have been relentlessly put forward as the corner stones of safe, sustainable, and smart society.

The second over-arching theme of the Smart City 360° Summit was a general uncertainty with regards to the definition of a “Smart City”, as well as an emphasis on the fact that there is no one universal recipe for a city to become smart. Many speakers have pointed out the multi-disciplinary nature of smart cities, and challenges that come up when governments, private sector, and citizens are required to collaborate. Many warnings regarding silo mentality were expressed, again emphasizing the need for mutual understanding and efficient collaboration between the many facets that together form a Smart City.

The main takeaway from the Smart City 360° Summit was that creating a Smart City is a long, arduous and problematic process that poses many complex challenges. This, in the end, only affirms the need for events such as Smart City 360°. Meeting people from different areas of expertise and public life, and putting heads together to make progress in sustainability and smart urban development is, as it appears, absolutely essential.

Take a look at the photo gallery from the Smart City 360° Summit here.

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