In 30 years, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. This observation was the seed from which the Smart City Startups event grew, with the aim of making the city a smarter and more enjoyable place. The second of these events was held in Miami on 24 and 25 April.
Organised by Urban.us, an investment fund that works with young companies whose objective is to improve urban life, this annual event brought together startups, entrepreneurs, investors, government representatives and experts, all working towards building the city of the future.
Smart City Startups highlighted urban tech: new technologies designed to solve urban problems including pollution, household waste management and public transport.
This event gave visitors an opportunity to become familiar with new technologies in a demonstration space that brought together more than one hundred startups, focusing on three main issues: transport & mobility, real estate & infrastructure, and governance & civic engagement.
Visitors were able to try out Whill, a new generation wheelchair, OneWheel, an electric one-wheeled skateboard that lets you get around in an intuitive way, and Soofa, a connected city bench with built-in charging stations for smartphones.
Startups focused on urban tech are working to collaborate with public authorities to save public money and simplify administrative procedures. Accordingly, MuniRent offers an online platform that lets cities rent their urban equipment to other cities. Startups such as ViewPoint and NextRequest offer to facilitate government procedures, such as building permit applications, by using software and an online platform that centralises applications.
Smart City Startups is also an opportunity to hold talks about the future of urban transformation. On the second day, the “unconferences” took place. This new kind of conference, which gave complete freedom to the entrepreneurs, government representatives, investors and experts who participated, allowed them to put forward topics for discussion that were approved by their peers and thus led to personalised, interactive debates. In particular, the topics addressed focused on mobility, relations between startups and public institutions, funding, the digitalisation of administrative procedures, and the future of real estate.
The mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, spoke about his city’s interest in innovative initiatives. Five startups were invited to pitch a project that would make Miami a more enjoyable place to live. Transitmix won the audience prize, offering software that gives urban transport network planners a way to manage the city’s bus routes using a map viewer and cost estimates based on public data. Placemeter was another notable participant, offering public authorities and retailers a way to quantify the movements and behaviours of citizens by using an image recognition algorithm that’s capable of analysing videos. The solution would be used to adjust city planning and improve urban security.
So many inspiring approaches and projects that aim to build a city that’s better suited to everyone’s needs, spotted by L’Atelier BNP Paribas during its coverage of the event.