Cross-sectional view of the 2022 Smart City Expo area

How Smart City Expo 2022 reinforced our beliefs

GSE Technologies was at the recently concluded Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We were excited to meet and interact with remarkable personalities pulled from all walks of life, fascinated by their innovative minds and dazzled by the major milestones in the evolution of smart solutions, and through it all, we stumbled on a reinforcement of hitherto held belief which not only formed our central thoughts about the event but became our key takeaways.

      1.  ‘Growth or sustainability’ is the past.

    Once upon a time when the idea of sustainability is presented to companies, they ponder either growing the business to fill pockets or sustaining the business line and product portfolio. Not exactly what sustainability truly entails.

    At the Smart City Expo, we were rather relieved to see that in a world that looks increasingly fragile and threatened by man-induced environmental calamities, companies are today realising that the system is no longer ‘choose whom you will serve, growth or sustainability’ but ‘now you must equate growth with sustainability.’ In other words, the efforts at all times ought to be growing sustainable values for society and for the planet. 

    What’s most refreshing also, is that other entities who yet lag behind on the topic will henceforth create solutions bearing in mind that posterity will remember: 

    -those that shift from selling products to selling benefits 

    -those that redefine and realign their business goals with society’s environmental goals

    -those that make changes to their operational processes for the sake of increasing the productivity of natural resources, and most importantly, 

    -those that foster a culture in which genuine concern for the planet holds equal priority as concern for the future of their business.

        1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the present.

      We know that you have seen the notable shift from Business Intelligence to Artificial Intelligence as this has been gradually happening over time – talking about like when you first started noticing the conversion of paper and photographic information into binary codes – but are you aware that AI’s presentation of clear operational advantages might just be the easiest and quickest fix for carbon neutralisation?

      So, one hundred per cent of the crowd that thronged the Expo area exhibited technologies majority of which were aimed at either reducing climate risks or completely offsetting emissions. 

      It was pretty much like… “Do you run a waste disposal business and would like to know when the garbage cans in your interest areas are ready to be emptied? Here’s a monitoring device. Would you like to know how clean or polluted the air you’re breathing is? Use this device. How about detecting smoke and gas leaks or measuring how much carbon your vehicle emits? Use this one. And if you are in the market for a new house but want to figure out how many recycled materials were utilised in each building, well, that device is just what you need…” 

      Now more than ever we can say that if it had hitherto been unclear what role technology has to play in the shift to a sustainable future, our experiential journey to Smart City Expo attests that technology is perhaps the most realistic bridge for the widening rift between the environment and a sustainable future. Every purpose-driven business across the globe aware of the fact that the business community is experiencing the immediate effects of climate risks both physically and financially is now aiming to redefine company purposes either by switching to alternative means of operation or providing sustainability-related solutions all geared towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions or creating long-term relationships with society.

          1. Startups are the future.

        Investopedia and the like will tell you that a startup is a company in its initial stages of operations. Such literal descriptions give rise to the consensus that “startups are the new kids on the block. They have not been tried and proven to be true, so they cannot be trusted. Investing in them is a gamble, a fat chance that would most likely end in tears”. 

        The big investors are led by this aphorism which is why the best startups never see the light of day, so their ideas begin and die with them.

        At the Smart City Expo, we saw a shift from this misguided belief. Startups are proving to be the newbies with the most advanced solutions – the future of innovations. And what’s even more gratifying is that governments are starting to realise this and giving them the opportunity to flex their muscles. Worthy of mention is the German government’s support for African startups and the belief in the African innovation ecosystems and digital technologies for green and sustainable development.  

        The Expo experience with digital visionaries from Africa as well as others from Asia, the Americas, the Middle east and Europe corroborates the definition of startups from a Forbes article whose much clearer and truer perspective was the depiction rather preferred to the former, “startups are businesses that want to disrupt industries and change the world—and do it all at scale. Startup founders dream of giving society something it needs but hasn’t created yet—generating eye-popping valuations that lead to an initial public offering (IPO) and an astronomical return on investment.”

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