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Worlds Smartest City powered by IOT?

 Is it one of the more recognised high tech hubs, like San Francisco, Tel Aviv or Seoul...

Where is the Worlds Smartest City ?

 Is it one of the more recognised high tech hubs, like San Francisco, Tel Aviv or Seoul, one of the younger hipper cities like Singapore or Austin, Texas or maybe one of the new pretenders with massive budgets and a regulatory system that allows them to slash and burn existing infrastructure and start again every couple of years like Dubai or Shanghai.

Surprisingly it’s probably none of the above, because in October of this year almost 1000 industry and governmental leaders from all across the globe descended on Barcelona for the inaugural Internet of Things World Forum, a technology think-in designed to get people debating the future of our connected world and discussing how the projected 50 Billion new devices that we’ll connect to the Internet over the next 7 years will change our lives.  Hosted by Cisco Systems, the opening keynote was delivered by Antoni Vives, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona and one of the most unassuming and witty politicians I’ve ever met (in fact possibly the only unassuming and witty politician I’ve ever met!!).

Antoni started his presentation by showing us some of the real life implementations of connected life that Barcelona delivers today, from smart parking apps to locally controlled interactive lighting to neighbourhood intranets and explained that his best sounding board for judging how successful a new project would be is if his mother, who he speaks to every day, thinks its a good idea.  This citizen focused mindset and an understanding that the value isn’t in having the smartest technology it’s in creating the smartest communities means that Barcelona, a city probably best known for football and food is fast becoming the go to city for civic leaders who want to see how a real Smart City should be built.

The city itself played a big part in the IOT World Forum with daily walking tours designed to give attendees hands on experience of the services available to citizens and the simple but integrated way that they were being delivered.  Showcasing projects as broad as Smart Street Lighting thru Ortogonal Bus networks that gave access to 95% of the city in a single transfer to ‘Open Government’ kiosks that made local services available to all citizens it was a 2 hour glimpse of the future that was well worth the effort for everyone who tagged along.

However, the story that best sums up Barcelona’s unique take on connected cities is how it managed to attract this event to the beautiful Beau Arts hotel in its bustling Olympic port in the first place.  Last January, after hearing that the forum was being planned, the Mayor of the city, Antoni’s boss, Xavier Trias sat at his desk in the 15th century Palau de Generalitat and wrote a hand written letter to CEO of Cisco Systems explaining exactly why Barcelona was the ideal location to launch what will undoubtably become the de-facto IOT event of the coming years. No email, no tweets, video conferencing or digital signatures just a simple pen and paper and a message that this beautiful city was already rolling out the vision of the future that the Internet of Things World Forum attendees were so desperate to see.

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