“… making everyone`s life better”
A fundamental openness to technical progress: this is what liberal politics stands for. However, innovation and digital transformation are not an end in themselves, but must always be oriented towards the goal of improving people's quality of life. "As much freedom as possible for as many people as possible" is the motto.
But what kind of vision, cross-societal collaboration, and decision-making is needed to empower citizens and plant the seeds of prosperity in urban and rural space in Europe?
Under the motto “Smart Visions – Smart Living” the third Smart City Festival 2019 #SCF19 attracted almost 700 stakeholders, entrepreneurs, researchers, and smart city practitioners from the Western Balkans.
The Smart City Festival was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Palgo smart, Serbian Tech, and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities. In 2019, the festival was supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ, the Smart City Education Initiative SCEI and over 50 partner organizations.
The Belgrade event offered stakeholders various points of interest, like an international conference, a best-practice pitching stage called Agora, a Smart City EXPO, various networking events, three Open-Data Publisher Awards, and three joint workshops between the cities of Vienna and Belgrade. Besides, SCF19 gave 140 pupils and their teachers to attend educational activities, co-organized by leading organizations in the field of STEM education.
The many guests had the opportunity to enjoy contributions by 50 experts from around Europe and the US, exchange concepts with entrepreneurs, and connect with leading experts in the region, at the expo.
The Smart City Festival 2019 venue, the Belgrade Expo Center, opened its gates in the early hours of October 15. When the opening ceremony started, almost three times the number of guests had arrived than the main conference hall could hold – an encouraging signal for the growing awareness among stakeholders about the importance of sustainable urban development, digital transformation, and innovation support in society.
The third festival was introduced by Zoran Stanojevic, a well-known TV presenter, and journalist. He was followed by welcoming speeches by Michael Roick, FNF Project Manager for the Western Balkans, H.E. Kimmo Lähdevirta, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland, Dorothea Gieselmann, Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and Zoran Radojicic, Mayor of the City of Belgrade.
The Smart City Education Initiative and the Smart City Festival have earned the reputation of not evangelizing the technology-aspects of the smart city process but instead asking sometimes difficult underlying questions. In 2019, some of these central issues were:
- What is the vision of the European smart city process and how to enable it a regional context?
- How could knowledge-transfer, innovation, and digital-transformation reshape “White space”, like rural areas in Eastern Europe?
- What are the various human aspect of the smart city process and how different are they to combine?
The feedback to the Smart City Festival was overwhelmingly positive, especially in social media, using the tags #SCF19 and @smartcityfestival. Many experts, exhibitions, and representatives of institutions praised the content, the presentation, and the organizers - establishing SCF19 as the leading event on smart cities of 2019.
"The SCF is an extraordinary event: modern themes, dialogue between business and public authorities and educational institutions with children's workshops. There is no better way to organise a modern platform of the Foundation abroad".
"The success of a SmartCity strategy depends not least on cultural conditions. This means above all: allowing a culture of error and 'trial and error', planning evaluation periods and - courage to be creative".
"The Smart City Festival Belgrad - this is the place where talents, experts and decision makers from politics and business meet to go forward in making Serbia smarter."
"I was very happy to be part of the Smart City Festival Belgrad - great discussions, wonderful talents and thrilling ideas. The Smart City Festival Belgrad shows how Serbia can use digitization for creating innovative, stronger, and more sustainable communities, making everyone´s life better."