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City Panel Discussion at SCEWC 2021 at NRW booth
Joe Appleton16. December 20214 min read

Expo Round Up: Smart City Expo World Congress 2021

As the world’s leading Smart City event, Smart City Expo World Congress 2021 was a unique platform for urbanists, city leaders, solution providers, private enterprises, and citizens to connect and share ideas. With cities facing bigger challenges than ever before, the need for idea-sharing platforms like SCEWC has never been greater. SCEWC 2021 has already been and gone, but the memories of the event will leave a lasting impression until next year when SCEWC will return to Barcelona for its 11th edition.

For the third year in a row, we partnered with Smart City Expo World Congress and worked to help make this event a success. We also worked closely with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to bring German experts and solutions to the event and showcase the state's dedication to the Smart City movement. We even moderated the NRW Forum, where German and international experts could come together and discuss German challenges and solutions that could be scaled to help other cities from all over the world as well as to speak about opportunities for international solution providers in German cities.

But while we would like to congratulate ourselves, the truth is that the success of this event (and the success of our cities) is down to those who took the time to attend this wonderful event, either in person or online.

Exceeding Expectations

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors to the event exceeded expectations. The organizers predicted a turn-out of 10,000 guests, but in fact, more than 14,000 people attended the Expo and Congress in person, with a further 21,000 online attendees.

Visitors could enjoy talking to more than 452 exhibitors from over 120 countries, and listening to in-depth talks from 350 guest speakers. The event may be over but don’t forget that you can still access the event’s entire digital programme online at Tomorrow.City.

A Platform for Sharing Ideas

Some of the most exciting talks included a keynote session from Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the former President of the UN General Assembly regarding cities and global governance, a thematic session on ambitious decarbonization strategies, and interesting insights into the future of air mobility and its feasibility.

Other big topics from the event included in-depth talks on air quality and how technology is actively reducing air pollution in our cities, the importance of data and data sovereignty for city governments, and examining the positive effects of small actions.

Being German, we’re naturally biased, but we would have to say the Germany Trade and Invest Pavilion was one of the highlights of this year’s event, with in-depth talks from German experts on the state of the German Smart City market, with representatives from Saxony, Bavaria, Hesse, Berlin, and of course, our home state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

However, the exhibition from the Fiware Foundation was a visitor favourite. While Fiware specializes in data management, data sovereignty, and open-source solutions, the Foundation’s Lego Smart City was a huge draw for visitors and one of the most talked-about highlights from the Expo.

A Celebration of Cities

But it wasn’t all fun and games. The Expo and World Congress also play host to the World Smart City Awards, a special event where outstanding leaders, innovators, and solutions are celebrated and rewarded for their hard work.

This year, the event added a new award: the Innovation Recovery Award. This special award was for projects that contributed to the adaptation of cities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wuhan People’s Municipal Government won the award for their innovative revitalization scheme.

The Digital Flanders Agency claimed the Enabling Technologies Award and the City of The Hague won the Energy & Environment Award for their Living Lab Scheveningen project. This year’s Mobility Award was given to the Port of Barcelona for its advanced passenger analytics systems. And the Governance Award was quite rightly given to the World Economic Forum. Other winners included the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority, the Chengdu Municipal People’s Government,

Finally, the most prestigious award offered at the World Smart City Awards was given to Buenos Aires. The Argentinian capital was celebrated for its pioneering waste reduction strategies, reducing urban waste, promoting recycling, and making the city more livable for residents.

Other top honours were awarded to the Mayor of Paris’ special envoy, Carlos Moreno for his forward-thinking 15-minute city strategy, and Italian architect Benedetta Tagliabue for her significant contributions to the Smart City movement. The Leadership Award was shared between the two of them, underscoring the importance of sharing ideas between nations, cultures, and cities.

See You Next Year

The biggest event on the smart city calendar may have already been and gone but we’re already looking ahead to next year. As always, bee smart city will be in attendance at the event, looking forward to meeting you all. However, if you can’t wait that long, there are plenty of other exciting events on the horizon. Be sure to check out our Smart City Event Calendar for all of the latest smart city events from all over the world.

We’d like to thank our friends at SCEWC and the organizers at Fira de Barcelona for all of their hard work, along with our fellow exhibitors, particularly our close friends from North Rhine-Westphalia, and everyone who helped to make this event possible. It’s ciao for now, but we’ll see you back in Barcelona next year!



Joe Appleton

Joe Appleton is a content strategist, editor and writer at bee smart city. He is particularly interested in the topics of smart and sustainable cities and urban mobility.