Barcelona establishes itself as a leading Smart City in Japan

Barcelona was the guest city at the “Japan-Barcelona Smart City Forum” event in Tokyo, which was organised by the Smart City Institute Japan and Nikkei, the most important business newspaper in Japan

The Smart City Institute Japan (SCI-J), a non-profit organisation created in October 2019 by Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., Ltd. and Nikkei Inc, hosted the “Japan-Barcelona Smart City Forum” event in Tokyo on 20 January in collaboration with Nikkei, the most important business newspaper in Japan.

The meeting saw the participation of a delegation from Barcelona City Council, whose members included Jordi Cirera, director of the Knowledge Society Office at the Municipal Institute of Information Technology, Josep Bohigas, director of the Urban Ecology Agency and director of Barcelona Regional, Felip Roca, director of International Relations, and Lluís Gómez, the international manager of Barcelona Municipal Services (B:SM).

This event took place within the context of the growing popularity of Smart City projects and initiatives in Japan. Barcelona is considered to be a benchmark city for innovation and smart city management. That is why it was the first city invited to the event hosted by SCI-J to exchange ideas and better understand Smart City management and the opportunities that arise from innovative policies and projects.

A key shared vision between Japan and Barcelona in Smart City management is that of always making their citizens the priority, humanising technology to make it benefit the people. The development of Barcelona’s urban model since the Olympic Games in 1992 up to now was also noted with appreciation by Tokyo, a city which will also begin a similar process this year, in 2020.

More than 600 people attended the 3 sessions, where Barcelona’s Smart City strategy, post-Olympic urban development, and noteworthy projects such as Sentilo, City OS, the Low Emissions Zone, and the Superblocks initiative were presented. The sensor platform Sentilo, the citizen-focused approach, and the ever-increasing restrictions on private vehicle access to the city in favour of gaining green spaces were the most-talked-about ideas in the Japanese press. Following this event, Nikkei will publish an article about Barcelona this coming 25 February.

In addition to the “Japan-Barcelona Smart City Forum” event, the Barcelona City Council delegation also took part in a conference at the University of Tokyo where the Barcelona model was introduced, with a special focus on the Superblocks initiative and the Decidim platform.

The delegation also attended several meetings with important local figures in Tokyo, Shibuya, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Kobe, and with the organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. One of the most important meetings was with the vice-governor of Tokyo, Manabu Miyasaka. Here, the delegation provided insight into the inner workings of IMI, the Urban Ecology Agency/BCN Regional, B:SM, and the Superblocks and Decidim projects, and showcased B:SM’s management of the Olympic infrastructures. On top of that, they met with the mayor of Shibuya, Ken Hasebe, the vice-governor of the Kyoto prefecture, Akimasa Yamashita, the deputy mayor of Yokohama, Kazumi Kobayashi, and the deputy mayor of Kobe, Hidetoshi Terasaki.

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