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Getting from A to B and the conferences of the future

The pandemic is changing where we go and how we get there and while none of us will mourn congestion, there’s much to miss when it comes to travelling to live events.

How we get from A to B was always going to change
How we get from A to B was always going to change

How we get around cities was always set to change thanks to ongoing smart city innovation but Covid-19 is further transforming how we travel. Some countries have placed heavy restrictions during pandemic lockdowns but news this week emerged of how San Diego is changing the way its road networks are used.


Anyone who has driven in California knows how hellish it is to get anywhere. A friend once joked to me that even the shortest of journeys takes at least an hour (and he was right). But San Diego has decided to make travel more leisurely with its "slow streets" programme - turning four streets into thoroughfares for walking, cycling and running. While this may seem recreational in its aim, the city has said it’s looking at the scheme as encouraging residents to cycle to and from work.


Meanwhile in Oslo, an agreement was signed this week to retrofit Toyota vehicles with autonomous driving software. This is part of the city’s public transportation authority Ruter’s plans to integrate self-driving vehicles into its network and provide new mobility services.


This autumn the town of Ski in greater Oslo will be part of the trials, with plans to test an all-weather autonomous driving system built by the fantastically named company Sensible 4.


Meanwhile, the plans for this year’s Smart City Expo Atlanta gave a glimpse of conferences to come. With little over a month to go, the event itself has been cancelled, with organisers pledging to replace it with "a powerful year-long digital series called Redefining Smart".


The event still intends to discuss mobility, now of the post-pandemic kind, the future of work, which is nicely timed, infrastructure, digital inclusion, security, sustainability, and a variety of technologies. If fears about infection rates and social distancing controls continue, digital events such as these could become the norm.


Eyes will now turn to the parent event in Barcelona to see if it is forced to follow suit. Attendees may profess them to be a chore but nothing beats the opportunity to network in person and learn from your peers during a conference. The opportunity to eat good food and drink excellent wine during work hours is also a bonus, especially in Barcelona.


But what will constitute "the new normal" is an area of great interest to us at SmartCitiesWorld. I read a fascinating article by Kings College London about the post-Covid-19 city this week that I would thoroughly recommend. I also want to hear from you about your thoughts on ’the new normal’. Please email me or drop us a line @smartcitiesw on Twitter.


Graeme Neill,



[email protected]


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