As CityLab, we were in Barcelona last week to attend the Smart City Expo and World Congress held in Barcelona.

smat city expo barcelona değiştir bu kafayı artık

Smart City Expo Barcelona

In the city I revisited after many years, I encountered significant changes with the digitalization process continuing rapidly. I learned that this change is the result of the work done in the last 15 years. Particularly, Mayor Ada Colau, whose work I have been following closely for a long time and who handed over her duty last May, also has a big share in this change. I did not have the opportunity to meet him during this visit. But when it comes to Barcelona, we have to give her her due.

I would like to share some information about my visit to the fair. Actually, I was going to attend the Smart City Expo held in America at the beginning of October. However, I had to postpone this visit due to the outbreak of brutality in the Middle East and the risk of spreading to nearby countries. I turned the route to Barcelona, which was held in early November and was another leg of this fair.

Barcelona Smart City Expo is a very important fair that provides a projection to the world regarding smart urbanization in terms of international participation, product diversity offered by its participants at their stands, panels held, and speakers participating.

Giant companies such as Cisco-Dell-Microsoft-Siemens-Honeywell-Mastercard, countries such as the Netherlands, Korea, Estonia, and Portugal, as well as many states and cities such as Germany’s Bavaria state also participated in the fair. I had the opportunity to observe how smart urbanization steps in the world are rapidly developing with this multinational participation.

Many important and successful cities and municipalities, such as the Municipality of Rotterdam, TMB (similar to Transportation Inc. in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality), which provides transportation services for the city of Barcelona, and Curitiba, a sustainable city of Brazil, which carried out its studies on recycling 50 years ago, presented all their skills to their stakeholders at the fair.

Among the expo, none of our municipalities or cities participated! Of course, I’m upset because the fact that our cities are not in this race that the world is in actually means that we are not in this race… I can almost hear the grumblings of the partisans who say that the municipalities they blindly voted for without knowing anything are working well, but these are the facts. While you waste your days pursuing partisan agendas, the world is moving forward rapidly and the distance is widening. After that, “Why are young people fleeing the country?” “No, we will bring the young people back!” fairy tales…

The world is in a completely different place now. It works for many purposes such as making cities and towns sustainable, using resources effectively, time economy, and good living. You have to change this mentality now!

The good news is that, along with a few technology and software companies, the stands of innovative companies such as Bin Bin, BeeNeo, and Link Robotics were also present at the Informatics Valley pavilion. I visited them and got information about their work.

Facial recognition etc. used in police vehicles patrolling in many countries of the world such as America and Dubai. Ekin Smart City, the manufacturer of sensors that collect many similar data, was also at the fair. Ekin Smart City is a very important Turkish company that we proudly talk about everywhere and has offices in major cities of the world. We also met with Wolfgang Bürkle, Ekin’s European central business development director, and had a great exchange of views.

Since I argue that the scope of smart urbanization is not just about engineering projects but also a science of life and management, my favorite stand as a participant that fits this approach was the stand of Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state. The locomotive stakeholders of smart urbanization in the state took their places at the stand. So much so that, in their pavilion called The Länd, the Stuttgart-based Mercedes car brand and the Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart University, which provides master’s degree training on smart cities, also participated. With their participation in this vision, the state of Baden-Württemberg; showed that smart urbanization is not just a matter of municipality but actually a matter of all residents and stakeholders in the city. That’s why I appreciated them so much. I was very jealous!


In my opinion, it will take the first place in digitality in the next 10 years. At the country stands where they attended the fair, in addition to city management systems, many start-up company owners were in a race to capture the market with their young people. This situation is not only a race to sell products but also a race to dominate data. Mastering data allows you to make smart decisions and use resources effectively. The world is after DATA, not money. Because data is everything. You have to change this mentality now!

My visit to the Smart City Expo World Congress was incredibly productive. While closely examining important companies and their products, I also had the opportunity to meet and develop my vision by participating in panels of important people.

Let’s come to Barcelona…

Barcelona; It is a city that has received immigration from Asians, Latins, Arabs, Northern Europeans, Africans, and, with the last Ukrainian-Russian war, from the people of different countries. Since it is also a trade and tourism city, its daily activity is intense.

Despite this density, transportation is great. Public transportation is available all over the city. Most importantly, buses and metro, which arrive at the stops at the specified time, are the most important means of transportation. It is possible to reach all parts of the city without paying any extra fee with the card that you can buy for three different types as 3,4,5. The main connection points of the metros are multi-storey. In other words, there are multi-storey metro stations that look like apartments. While going to the Espana area on the 1st floor, it is possible to take the metro from the 2nd and 3rd floors to other areas. This approach makes the city more accessible.

It is possible to walk on the streets, use the roads reserved for bicycles and mobility devices, find motorcycle and bicycle parks, park vehicles without any problems, and even rest in the green areas between the two-way streets on the major boulevards in Barcelona. Transportation, especially facilitated by hybrid and cheap public transportation vehicles, enables moving away from fossil fuel-powered private vehicles and reduces carbon emissions and noise.

The variety of businesses in the cities has been permitted by local governments to meet the needs and potential. This approach contributes significantly to the sustainability of the city and its life. Shopping opportunities and variety in popular areas are excellent. There are almost three stores of the same brand in the same region, such as Catalunya, and these stores are packed with tourists and local people. The prices are also very good compared to their economy. The cost of meat varies between 7 and 12 euros per kilo. Although the Euro may seem expensive when calculated because it is more than our TL, it is very reasonable when you look at the price in terms of unit and profit. Even the TL equivalent of the Euro prices of some companies operating in Turkey is much cheaper than ours.

Barcelona, which has an airport, train station, and cruise port, is also one of the important cities for international trade. The combination of sea, land, and air transportation makes a significant contribution to sustainability and the local economy. While all economic stakeholders of the city earn income from the high-income tourists of world-famous luxury cruise ships docking at the port, tourism sustainability is at the highest level thanks to the natural advertising of posts made through social media.

In addition, international fairs on smart urbanization, innovation, habitat, industry, and trade are held in the city. This approach contributes significantly to the city being ahead in the global race and generating income.

I have never seen rickshaws collecting waste on the street. Almost all garbage containers are placed separately on the streets for recycling. In general, it is possible to write pages and pages about the cleanliness of the city and its subways in Barcelona, or even a book just on the smart urbanization model. That’s why I want to summarize the article without further ado.

Smart urbanization is a life and management science and form. In this context, you develop a policy by collecting data in the city or city you manage. In this way, you can turn many issues related to sustainability, local development, good life, inclusion, equality, and economy into development and growth dynamics without any problems. From this perspective, Barcelona is a very important example that ranks high in smart city rankings.

#ChangeThisMentalityNow My next article in the article series will be on Smart Cities and Smart Airports.


Urbanologist / Smart and Sustainable Cities Specialist

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