Point of view‎ > ‎

Interview Pilar Conesa

posted Feb 20, 2013, 10:53 AM by STC eGov   [ updated Feb 21, 2013, 2:57 PM ]

Point of view - Pilar Conesa.

01.- Congratulations for the II Smart City Expo World Congress. There is a bit of confusion about what a smart city is. Many people from many places talk about it using the same word with different meanings. Given this fact, what is a smart city for you?

It's true that there are different visions. Some point of view focus on specific topics that the others don't. Even so, all of them agree to consider that moving to the Smart Cities concept means to develop more sustainable cities, with greater quality of life, economically competitive and involving citizens to build a Smart Society.
There are 6 fundamental working areas: in which the Smart City is integrating and enabling new technology developments, innovating models, coordinating actors and socially thinking forward: energy, urban planning & building, environment, mobility, society & people & living and Governance & economy.

02.- Given your definition of Smart City, can you give a couple of examples of Smart cities. What does make them make a smart city?

Each city establishes its Smart City strategy depending on its priorities. A city in India doesn't have the same strategy as one in Europe, Africa or USA. The starting point is very different from each city and needs different priorities aligned with the city strategy. I'll give you several examples. Amsterdam and Copenhagen focus on mobility, green city and entrepreneur network. In the United States, New York or San Francisco are leaders in Open Government and citizen engagement. Barcelona is the world center of Mobile, City protocol and Urban Lab. On the other hand, London works on sustainability mobility. In Asia, Japan cities (Tokyo, Fukushima, Yokohama) are worried about energy whereas Seoul focuses on ubiquitous city.

03.What type of projects are more genuine related to smart cities?

Nevertheless the projects of each city rely on city priorities, the more common projects are within six topics. Mobility -specially about electrical vehicle and multimodal services-, smart lighting, water and waste management systems, participation & citizen engagement, apps for urban services, renewable energy production, city platform and minimizing the environmental impact of buildings.

04.- In the smart city context, what is a smart government? Does this concept have anything to do with open government? In what sense?

One of the axes of Smart Cities is the Smart Government. Furthermore, to be efficient, the city government has to be collaborative, open and participative, fostering the citizen engagement. All these concepts are aligned with Open Government. It's not only about to open data, it also has to do with the collaboration between citizens, innovators and entrepreneurs with the City Hall. It's a challenge for the local administration because implies a cultural change.

05.- What is the concept that the average citizen has about smart cities? Is it necessary to perform information campaigns in order to advertise Smart Cities benefits?

In the past two years, Smart Cities has been present in the mass media and this can help to spread the Smart Cities concept, but still is not known enough. It's needed to disseminate information about of specific initiatives and projects benefits.

06.-One of Smart Cities biggest challenges is to combat climate change. Which innovations have been presented in Smart City Expo World Congress related to the electrical vehicle?

The electrical vehicle's deployment is one of the challenges to reduce the CO2 impact as well as the promotion of alternative mobility ways as cycling or walking.
In the Smart City Expo World Congress were presented the vision from the automotive industry, the energy production companies, the new players and the cities. The deployment of the electrical vehicle is clearly moving forward around the world: in Europe, Japan, USA, Canada or China.
The more significant innovations are the evolution in the electric vehicle production - cars and motorcycle - in the battery management, and the new fast charging methods as well as wireless charging systems.

07.- Smart cities are characterized by efficient management of the natural resources available. Which developments have been on water and waste management systems in the Smart City Expo World Congress.

Several water and waste projects were presented. When it comes to waste, projects were related to improving trash bins efficiency with sensors, waste energy generation, and waste specific compacting products as the one that won the Smart Cities award.
What it refers to water services, the initiatives showed in the World Congress were related to water cycle management, smart metering, irrigation systems sensors and building techniques to reduce water consumptions.

08.- Smart Cities collect large amounts of data from citizens. Could this collection of data lead to privacy invasion like in the Orwellian 1984?

I don't think so, because the information is stored anonymously. Large amounts of data are collected from different sources: sensors, equipments and, of course, citizens. The systems will be "smart" crossing this data and getting valuable information to improve urban services making them more efficient. This information will also help the citizen in the day by day life.

09.-The infrastructure of a Smart City might be very costly. How do you see the utilization of the Public Cloud infrastructure to reduce costs?

Cloud services, not only cloud infrastructure, are clearly a way to reduce costs. Over the 2012–2016 forecast, IDC estimates that public IT cloud services period will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4%, five times that from the IT industry overall. This cloud services growth meets the demand to reduce costs and efforts.

10.-Several experts said Smart City approaches will not be rolled out if the cyber security risk is not well understood and managed. In your opinion, what is the Smart City approach to cyber security risk?

I don't agree that Smart Cities will not be rolled out until cyber security risk is not well understood. I think that cities have the same level of cyber security risk problem before deploying smart cities initiatives because cities are managing large amounts of data.
In any case, it's needed to define clear policies, a governance model and security awareness.

20 February 2013