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Smart cities are around the corner as the use of information and communications technologies is propelling the humanity towards the age of smart cities. We are now facing the question of how to transform these urban environments into comprehensive, intelligent and cognitive communities.

During the Smart Cities and Cognitive Communities panel on smart cities and cognitive communities, moderated by Ms Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director of AmCham Slovenia, Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia stressed that moving towards smart communities was not only about digitalisation. Knowledge is important, and it should be available to all in open environments, she added. It is about the responsibility of improving the lives of all, at the global level.

 Dr Anil Menon, Global President of Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco Systems Inc., moreover stressed that in building smart communities, it was important to be globally aware, to teach “kids that they are a part of a global network”. “You can’t be a great leader if you’re not a great follower; this is important in the new, smart world,” Dr Menon stressed.

 This was built upon by Dr Yoshiaki Ichikawa, Head of Chief Architect Office, Global Center for Social Innovation, Research and Development Group of Hitachi, who stressed that economy was changing and social innovation was very important in building smart cities.

 Mr Makoto Watanabe, Executive Director of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan, however remained more technical, highlighting the importance of introducing new systems for smart communities.

Apart from technology, smart cities also include the collection of data and smart mobility, the panel moreover heard. It was also stressed that it was all about transparency in collecting data – about what data is collected, who uses it and how.

Mobility was meanwhile gladly taken on by Mr Davor Tremac, General Manager, South East Europe at Uber, who believes his company is building the next platform. “While water and electricity have been taken for granted for years, we want to make transport something that is taken for granted.”

Turning to introducing smart cities, Mr Blaž Golob, Director of SmartIScity Ltd, meanwhile noted his company was focusing on how to improve smart cities, as while there are over 120 definitions of what a smart city is, they are mainly technology driven. What is more, very few strategies in moving towards smart cities have been drafted in cooperation with mayors, cities.