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Smart City World Expo 2021: Citymesh's vision


From 16 to 18 November 2021 Citymesh was present at the Smart City World Expo in Barcelona. Read the findings of Ward, CSO at Citymesh.

It was already the sixth time that some of Citymesh's colleagues visited the Smart City World Expo in Barcelona. This event, which takes place annually with the exception of coronation times, is the place to be for everyone involved in Smart City challenges. Here, they can experience state-of-the-art developments up close.

At the expo, they can meet like-minded people to discuss and experience how technology can help cities and towns, and to think about how digitisation can make a difference to who lives and works there.

There should be no doubt that technology in itself is never an end, but at best a means to an end. Many challenges facing cities and towns never touch the digital surface, but as this expo highlights, technology can help streamline processes and move them - at least one step - forward.

In recent years, the focus of the expo has been on data collection:

  • smart bins - luckily there were only a few at the expo this year
  • smart lighting poles
  • smart sensors, in the broadest sense of the word

Actually, these solutions were not that "smart".

What is smart about knowing a bin is full, without a decent way to redistribute resources to empty it?

What is smart about knowing that a light is on if there is no one around to enjoy it?

What is smart about knowing that a street is flooded because a sewer has reached its limits, if you cannot inform people to evacuate?

It is not enough, yet data collection has received a lot of attention in recent years. And we welcome that: it is not possible to make good decisions without data, without figures and without facts.

The Glasgow Climate Conference is only just behind us. So it was great to see all the European regions present at the expo focusing on implementing technology solutions that can help everyone achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The companies present at SCWE all have their own methods for helping cities and towns achieve these goals.

  • Platforms to evaluate and correlate the available data streams, in order to deploy them in smart ways
  • Digital Twins that predict the environmental impact when changes are proposed
  • Environmentally friendly (autonomous) transport
  • Smarter and cheaper devices to constantly monitor or purify air quality
  • Interpreting statistics and the types of visitors and traffic in and around the city

We at Citymesh do our utmost to meet these developments by providing ways to backhaul the data from these sensors to a cloud of your choice (private, hybrid or public). This is how the data becomes meaningful. The backhaul is available in different forms based on the needs and budget of the application and the customer. There is an LP-WAN Sigfox network for low budget needs (in terms of both effort and money), WiFi for more data without business critical applications and a full-fledged Mobile Private 5G network for business critical applications.

We can conclude that all roads lead to Rome and this thought was reinforced during the expo: we use the data coming from the sensors for the benefit of the city, the inhabitants, the companies and - perhaps above all - the environment.

(Written by Ward Van Ooteghem, CSO at Citymesh)

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