The annual Connected Smart Cities Conference (CSCC) took place this year on 11 January, bringing together representatives of cities, international institutions, academia and industry to discuss this year’s theme “Cities Driving the Digital Transition”. The conference was structured in two sets of parallel discussion panels, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and featured discussions on a variety of topics, from IoT ecosystems, market creation, data protection, and global IoT standards for smart cities and communities, to smart mobility and the role of IoT in the energy and water supply industries.

The conference was introduced by Open & Agile Smart Cities’ (OASC – the organiser of CSCC) Chair Dr Martin Brynskov and OASC co-founder Jarmo Eskelinen. The opening plenary session featured speeches from European Union Committee of Regions First Vice-President Markku Markkula, who welcomed the steps already taken to make cities smarter and explained some of the ways in which the EU helps facilitate the path towards achieving smart cities, such as providing financing for new initiatives and assisting municipalities, stakeholders and citizens in their efforts by serving as a point of information.

The conference provided insights from both theoretical perspectives and more practical ones. Real-life examples of smart city initiatives were given by representatives from the cities of Seoul and Issy-les-Moulineaux. Several Living Labs also presented the results of their experiments. The European Commission pointed out the cities of Sofia (Bulgaria), Thessaloniki and Patras (Greece), L’Aquila (Italy), Ventspils (Latvia), Iasi (Romania), Granada and Algericas (Spain) as cities to watch for new smart city initiatives.

It was agreed that the main building blocks for smart cities are IoT architecture and ecosystem, big data and artificial intelligence, security and resilience, standards, and digital-ready governance. All of these elements need to be considered in order to successfully digitalise cities.

MaaS Alliance Senior Manager Piia Karjalainen (ERTICO – ITS Europe) opened the afternoon panel discussion on smart mobility and delivered a presentation on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), focused on explaining the concept and the current best practices. The importance of roamability of MaaS services was emphasized, as well as the fact that MaaS is not simply about getting from point A to point B. Instead, it is about providing all possible options and ensuring connections between all the point As and all the point Bs.

Francois Fischer from ERTICO – ITS Europe also participated in the panel on smart mobility, presenting the AUTOPILOT project. The key focus of AUTOPILOT is on integrating IoT solutions in automated driving. However, this was put in a wider context by shedding light on how IoT and automated driving can benefit smart cities. Nikolous Thomopoulos of the City of Greenwich, who also spoke as part of the smart mobility panel, emphasized the need to continue work on autonomous vehicles, mentioning that in 95% of analysed cases it is better not to wait, but that there are clear benefits and work needs to continue with technology designs and trials.