Showcasing London at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona

This month, it was the first time LOTI organised a delegation to attend the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) in Barcelona. The SCEWC is the world’s biggest event on urban innovation, with attendees and exhibitors from innovative companies, governments and organisations looking to move cities towards a better future. For three days, we were able to learn new ideas and challenges from many other cities and companies, get to know the London and UK smart city picture better and attend some truly forward thinking talks. Check out some of the highlights below!

Learning about Barcelona’s Innovation District

Before the congress began, the LOTI delegation attended a guided tour of the innovation district, 22@, with local government colleagues from the City of Barcelona. The 22@ project is a neighbourhood built on Poblenou’s industrial land where innovation, creativity, design and technology have replaced the old factories as the economic driving force of the city. Walking around the area, it was interesting to see how they have brought together public and private partnership and repurpose a lot of the buildings that would otherwise have been unused. We also learned more about Superblocks, Barcelona’s larger take on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that include local amenities and play spaces as part of the city’s plans to recover space for the local community. Through this tour, it was also a great opportunity to get to know the members of the Council of Global City CIOs (CGCC) network, discussing similarities and challenges that we all face as European cities.

Telling the London Smart City story

During the congress, LOTI was able to share the London smart city picture with other cities and companies at our own stand within the UK pavilion. This stand was also shared with SHIFT, London’s innovation catalyst, and London & Partners, which helped companies and start-ups of the congress to understand the opportunities available for them in London. We also hosted a successful networking session for members of our LOTI delegation to strike up conversations with some of the 25,000 congress attendees at the congress.

Sharing London’s approach to Smart Cities at a borough and city level

In addition to attending meetings and sessions at the Congress, members of the LOTI delegation were also able to share our approach to smart cities at a borough and city level. 

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, was part of a panel that discussed ‘CIOs Shaping Technology Initiatives at the City Level’, including challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for urban innovation and connectivity. 

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London speaking on a panel with three other people at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona

Theo Blackwell speaking on a panel at SCEWC

Jay Saggar, LOTI’s Programme Manager: Data, Smart Cities & Cyber Security, was part of a panel hosted by Connected Places Catapult that discussed ‘Unlocking innovation for inclusive prosperity’, in which he explained how LOTI is support our members across London to identify and introduce innovative solutions to common city challenges.

A photo of Jay Saggar from the LOTI team speaking in a panel of five people at the UK pavilion at the Smart City Congress in Barcelona

Jay Saggar, from the LOTI team, speaking on a panel at SCEWC

Tariq Khan, Chief Digital and Information Officer, was part of a panel that discussed ‘Data as the Game Changer for Decision-Making’, in which he highlighted Camden Council’s resident panel and data charter

Tariq Khan, Chief Digital and Information Officer of Camden Council speaking on a panel with five other people in a large room

Tariq Khan speaking on a panel at SCEWC

International partnership between Barking & Dagenham and Seoul

At the congress, an international partnership signing ceremony took place between Thames Freeport, Seoul Digital Foundation, South Korea, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and Connected Places Catapult to launch a Smart Homes Innovation Hub in Barking, London. The new partnership will be focussed on making homes safer, especially for more vulnerable residents, through the development of health tech that can be deployed in the home and in the community.

A photo of the four representatives from Barking and Dagenham, Connected Places Catapult, Thames Freeport and Seoul Digital Foundation holding their signed contracts on a podium titled Seoul Pavilion

Seoul x London Collaboration Agreement Signing Ceremony at SCEWC

Exploring the exhibition area

Lastly, the two exhibition halls at the congress were vast and filled with pavilions from cities, countries and companies. It would be impossible to capture all the interesting initiatives that was seen, but here are a few:

  • Seocho coin In the city of Seocho in South Korea, citizens use a virtual asset system to encourage social value realisation activities. 
  • Bioo – A company that produces biological batteries collecting electrons from the breaking down of organic substances in the ground by natural microorganisms.
  • Garnet Framework – An open-source framework for building interoperable smart city data systems including digital twins.

For more information about LOTI’s smart city work, please visit our web pages on:

Special thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies and UK Department of Business and Trade in Barcelona for their support at the event and photos.

Conference reflections Smart City Expo World Congress

Polly Kwok
22 November 2023 ·
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