Creating better cities to live in: UITP at Smart City Expo World Congress

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Empowering cities to make them better places to live in, enhancing innovation to improve mobility: the mission of UITP is remarkably similar to that of the Smart City Expo World Congress, held from 13 to 15 November in Barcelona’s impressive Fira de Barcelona. For the congress, UITP has entered into a key partnership with Fira de Barcelona, joining forces to support cities to foster innovation for greater urban mobility.

At the Smart City congress, UITP played host to and spoke at various events. UITP was the first one to take the stage after the official opening ceremony, with Advocacy & Outreach Director Dionisio González hosting the high level panel discussion on how city leaders can better foster innovation for more liveable cities. For the session, UITP invited city representatives, each sharing their own view on innovation and urban mobility. The participants were UITP President Pere Calvet, Emilia Saiz (Secretary General of UCLG), Mercedes Vidal (Councillor for Mobility at Barcelona City Council), Octavi De la Varga Mas (Secretary General of Metropolis), Muna Al Osaimi (Director Transportation Strategic Planning at Roads & Transport Authority Dubai), and Joao Matlombe (Municipality of Maputo).

Although coming from several regions with different priorities, the speakers’ message was consistent. To create better cities we need better mobility – and to create better mobility we need vision and leadership to enhance innovation. Pere Calvet, President of UITP: “There is no magical recipe for mobility because mobility is not about a single solution, but about a variety of solutions. It is during the process of visualising the city of the future when we need to set up clear priorities in terms of health, competitiveness, accessibility, inclusion, and gender equality.”

There is no magical recipe for mobility because mobility is not about a single solution

After the discussion, it was time for action. City representatives were invited to the stage and signed the Innovation Cluster of the Mobility Champions Community, the first global platform of city leaders taking concrete action to collaborate in leading the transition in urban mobility. A total of nine cities joined the Mobility Champions Community that day: Barcelona, Dakar, Dubai, Jakarta, Maputo, Montreal, Natal, Quito and Strasbourg. UITP is proud and happy to have these additional cities on board and together with other members of UCLG lead the transition to better quality of life in our urban areas!

On the second day of the congress, UITP Project Manager, Karine Sbirrazzuoli hosted the Urban Mobility Innovation index (UMii) Forum. After an opening by President Pere Calvet, the UMii forum served as the backdrop for cities to learn best and next practices from each other, discuss what innovation means to them, and look at what needs to be done to unlock innovation for mobility.

While long-time members Barcelona, London, and Dubai came to update their progress, UITP was happy to welcome the City of Surrey (Vancouver), Budapest, Montevideo, Natal, and Basel as new joiners to the UMii network. These five cities along with 10 other new cities will have their innovation profiles included in the next UMii report planned for 2020. 

After every city took the stage, a round table discussion was held on the challenges that still lie ahead. Heard from every city was the ever growing need to exchange best practices - cities need ‘Innovation Champions’ who can set examples and who can be learned from. Also discussed was the fact that to truly benefit from innovation, cities have to be enabled to actually accelerate the initiatives they develop. Therefore, a framework such as UMii can be a good starting point to find a common DNA between cities that looks beyond differences and specificities. From here, a defined roadmap could be developed to accelerate the process of innovation and make it more sustainable.

Finally, UITP partner and MaaS research project IMOVE held the session "The path to a sucessful MaaS", during which various partners defined what needs to be done to see a succesful integration of MaaS services. During the session, which was very well visited, it was announced that EMT de Madrid has been chosen as the new Living Lab through the IMOVE open call. Fore more information about this exciting collaboration, click here

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