Experiencing an urban revolution at the Smart City Expo World Congress: Part Two

Before you read on, make sure you have checked out part one!

Team Point 6 continued on their journey through the exhibition space, encountering innovative stands from big names such as Microsoft, Huawei, and Seat. Cities themselves also had their own presence, promoting the actions they were taking to create a more connected living space for their inhabitants.

We were a little surprised to see no mention of our hometown of London, however the UK still got its share of the spotlight – with a stand from Leeds City Region! We learnt that the city of York is the UK’s first ‘gigabit’ city – a term that refers to super-fast internet speed courtesy of ultra fibre optic (UFO).

As the largest economy outside London – worth a whopping £69.6 billion – it was nice to see the Union Jack make a worthy appearance.

Meet and greet

We had the pleasure of a very cordial meeting with this friendly looking chap.

Named Ari, and created by robotics company PAL, it’s marketed as a social robot made for today’s needs. In other words, it can be used to interact and build engagement with visitors, customers, or people who simply are lost and can’t find the bathroom. It’s designed to have a wide range of multi-modal expressive gestures and behaviours, making it ideal for human-robot-interaction. Plus (according to their website) it has a ‘curvy, humanoid design’ that errs just on the right side of uncanny valley.

After this oh-so-pleasant encounter, we turned our hands to a spot of virtual exploring.

Excitedly placing the headset on, we found ourselves in a rather mundane hotel lobby, jumping haphazardly from corner to corner while working out how to use the hand control to move around (harder than it seems!).

Luckily, we were allowed to exit the lobby, and were given the choice to transport ourselves to various landmarks. We decided to look around an historic theatre. The quality was incredible; we really felt like we were strolling through the grand hallway of this magnificent old building! We could have stayed all day, but sadly were asked to remove the headset and let someone else have a go…

Port(al) to the future

How much have you thought about ports in your lifetime? Chances are, not a lot (if at all). Turns out, they’re pretty interesting! And of course the application of smart technology spikes their significance even further.

For example, did you know that every container that enters a port has to be checked in-person for damage? Automating this process using AI results in a more streamlined, fluid outcome. Which in turn means less lorries polluting city streets, as the quicker they move through the port, the quicker they move off of the roads.

Plus, sustainability was a hot topic. The San Pedro Bay ports created a scheme called the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), that promised to reduce pollution and emissions from every source possible. They even have an ambitious zero-emission goal, aiming to have all lorries emission-free by 2035.

Finally, we made our way through this flashing fluorescent tunnel and back into the outside world, full of inspiration and insight into the future of smart cities across the globe.

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