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Dawn of the URBANAGE at SCEWC2022

Team URBANAGE was out in force at the World Smart City Congress and Expo in Barcelona this year with project representatives from Engineering, Italy, Tecnalia, Spain, Digitaal Vlaanderen, Belgium, Forum Virium, Helsinki and 21c, United Kingdom, sharing flyers and promoting the need for better accessibility and age-friendly services in Europe’s cities on multiple conference stages.

The theme of this years Expo was ‘cities inspired by people’ with a strong focus on inclusive infrastructure and services, where streets and public services are accessible for all, and collaboration and participation are the pivot upon which to build safer and happier futures. A vision totally in sync URBANAGE’s mission to leverage disruptive tech, including digital twins and AI, to modernise urban planning, making it more collaborative and inclusive.

Speaking at the Green Agora session on ‘digital twins for local decision makers’ URBANAGE partner, Lieven Raes from Digitaal Vlaanderen, explained that cities should not be afraid of data and technology and should get started as harnessing technology means you can deliver more for citizens faster. “It’s a misconception that digital twins should always be 3D and that cities must start big,” explained Raes. “`It’s best to start this journey with a single ‘right’ use case, such as traffic management, which can be visualised and analysed equally well in 2D”.

Continuing the theme on the congress stage at the ‘disruptive technologies for empowering digital services’ Susie Ruston McAleer, founder and director at 21c, shared the URBANAGE use case from the city of Santander who are using urban data and digital twin technology to help older residents better navigate the city according to need and context. “Cities are getting older, with more than a quarter of urban populations over the age of 60 and rising,” said Ruston McAleer, “a demographic shift of this nature has a huge impact on how cities work. Planners have to better plan and develop the services people want and need, not what they think people want, and digital twins provide an easy-to-understand interface around which to model future impacts and have policy and planning discussions including older people’.

Conversations with mayors, civil servants, start-up entrepreneurs, networks and academics were furthered at the stands of Tecnalia, and Fiware. With more than 24,000 people descending on the Fira conference center over the three days, the URBANAGE team experienced an unprecedented opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing. The next few months will be spent following up with the enlarged ecosystem and delivery planning based on newly acquired knowledge.

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