SCEWC Barcelona Conference Overview

The Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA), supported by SCCANZ, ASCA, and Austrade lead an escorted immersion tour from Australia and New Zealand to the Smart City Expo World Congress, MATT SCHULTZ President asca, shares his experience below.

The Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) is the largest event of its kind in the world with over 20,000 delegates, over 400 speakers, and 650 exhibitors. In this fast-moving space, this is the world’s leading event at which to see the latest smart city offerings and learn from City counter-parts from around the world.

Since 2011, Smart City Expo World Congress has been an unmissable event combining the latest solutions and technologies, and inspirational keynotes on improving life in cities. In 2018, the event intends to reflect on what makes a city liveable, what happens when "gentrification" changes the whole social character of a neighbourhood, and how sharing can transform the way it operates so that it can become more sustainable, resilient, inclusive and, of course, smarter with a focus on people.

To do so, the 2018 edition concentrated on five main topics responding to the key issues facing cities:

  • Digital Transformation

  • Urban Environment

  • Mobility

  • Governance & Finance

  • Inclusive & Sharing Cities

Additionally, the Smart Mobility Congress, the International Integrated Water Cycle Show (Iwater), the Circular Economy European Summit and the Sharing Cities Summit was held in parallel to the SCEWC, thus creating great synergies between the co-located events and contributing to the major objective of creating a better future for our cities.

IPWEA organised a series of meetings, briefings and other side events with leading international suppliers and innovators with proven credentials and exemplars of implemented systems.




The delegation attended a Barcelona briefing by Doxa, led by Josep Ramon Ferrer and supported by Anna Grau.

Until June 2015, Josep Ramon was CIO and Smart City Director of the Barcelona City Council and CEO of the Barcelona Institute of Technology (BIT), where he planned and executed the Barcelona Smart City project that ranked the city to be the first Global Smart City Worldwide and European Capital of Innovation (European Commission, 2014).

Key takeaways from the Doxa presentation include:

  • Whilst Barcelona implemented a comprehensive Smart City strategy and deployed smart connected initiatives in the early 2010’s, the total percentage of City rollout is still less than 10%.

  • Technology is the essential enabling ‘fabric’, not the goal

  • Long term sustained leadership and vision is required for any success

  • The approach must be open, inclusive and participatory

DOXA Presentation #1

DOXA Presentation #2

A guided walking tour of Passieg de Gracia was undertaken where various Smart City infrastructure deployments were demonstrated including EV Charging stations, City WiFi and LED Lighting.




Smart City Expo World Congress opened its doors and what an opening it was! The Congress kicked off with powerful debates on topics such as 5G, IoT, sharing economy, urban resilience and social inclusion, going deep into the key issues for the future of our cities, while the Expo was a hive of activity: presentations, networking, business meetings and much more.

Highlights of Day 1 included:

  • Australian Delegation meeting with Cisco to discuss the Australian market landscape

  • Delegation meetings with Dutch booth, Signifiy (Philips) and Mastercard (City Possible)

The last event of the day was the Convercities meet up. Convercities is an organisation that provides links between city managers around the world who are progressing smart city projects and innovative agendas. The event was hosted at the Catalan Government’s office by Daniel Marco, Director of SmartCatalonia. I was pleased that as the President of the Australian Smart Communities Association I was able also to provide a presentation. Some of the key insights from this session were the importance of collaborative platforms and sharing information and knowledge across peer networks to strengthen the collective strength of governments and city managers.

Fantastic first day at Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona ! #SCEWC18 #CitiesToLiveIn The Smart City Expo World Congress has started with great energy. Attendees have learnt about the latest innovations in the smart city field and what building an all-inclusive society means. Experts have underlined the need to empower people to drive change. Watch the recap video of day one.




Day 2 was another day packed full of deep-dive conversations at #SCEWC18, with climate change, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, e-gov, gentrification and many more key issues being discussed by worldwide experts, international mayors and high-level government officials. Over in the Expo, meanwhile, thousands of visitors came together to connect and together build a better world for future generations.

Highlights of Day 2 included:

  • Keynote presentation by Andrew Keen author of ‘How to Fix the Future’

  • Delegation meetings with Itron, Schreder and Israel Pavilion.

In addition, I accepted an invitation from Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) to attend their ‘Enabling the City’ event. This was well attended by predominantly European cities. The presentations from this event can be found at via this link.



DAY 3 Smart City Expo World Congress wrapped up its third day of networking, activities and challenging debates, marking the end of a brilliant 8th edition that has strengthened this platform as the world’s greatest meeting point for cities and companies working towards a better urban future.

Highlights of Day 3 included:

• Keynote presentation by Rufus Pollock – a Robot Revolution for the 1%

• Delegation meetings with Nordic Pavilion and Ferrovial.




On the invitation of Catherine Caruana-McManus from Meshed, a number of Australians who were in Barcelona for SCEWC travelled to Amsterdam for workshops with The Things Network (TTN), Waternet and Port of Amsterdam.


Summary of tour findings

‘Call to arms Narrative’ – Much of the international dialogue is still focused on call to action to commence the smart city journey, planning and implementations.

Greater focus on the bigger picture and unintended consequences – A number of keynotes were focused on the impact digitised globalisation is changing the current landscapes of democracy, government trust and the breakdown of decades old norms. Importantly there are emerging models that can be implemented to ‘fix the future’.

Evidence of fulfilling the promise – There is still only small, but growing, evidence of scaled projects that have produced the transformational outcomes sought. Most Cities are in planning, proof of concept or pilot stages in 2018.

Scaled rollouts – Some of the larger international cities such as Barcelona has long been the ‘poster child’ of the smart city movement over the past decade. Most of these cities have been marketed to indicate that their respective smart city rollouts are near or at completion. Deeper investigation shows that this is not the case with even Barcelona still below 10% of whole of city scale smart infrastructure rollout.

Where Australia is positioned – Based on what I experienced and saw on this important trip it is clear that Australia’s leading cities are at pace with nearly all international peers. However, this could change rapidly if Australian Cities do not convert current strategy into commencement of on the ground implementation in the coming 12 months.

Matthew Schultz, PRESIDENT