On Dec.27th (GMT+8), InnoKOL had a fascinating conversation with Mr. Vitor Pereira, who is the Co-Founder of Zoom Global Smart Cities, talking about his unique working experience and deep insights on developing roadmaps and strategies for Smart Cities, Smart Regions and Smart Tourism.
Jokia: How would you describe yourself in three words? What’s your motto?
A Miracle Aligner.
Help others to find the right path to create a better future together.
Jokia: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And we’d love to hear what brought you to Smart Cities domain.
I used to be a journalist but always had interest for technology and innovation sectors. After working in Radio, Tv and newspapers I started my own Communication Agency to work strategies to build better projects based on creativeness.
I started working developing Roadmaps and strategies for Tourism and projects related with Tourism Destinations and attracting and keeping population for small and remote areas here in Portugal, which are decreasing population. Connecting tourism and the smart cities was a consequence and I started the international event SMART TRAVEL (www.smartravel.pt) that is the intersection between two worlds that are part of the same ecosystem, the cities.
Jokia: From your point of view, which is more crucial to make a city “smart”? Technology or people?
The concept of smart city obviously has an origin and a connection to the world of technology and the digitization of services and processes.
It is born with this purpose and there are cities that need to implement it urgently in order to optimize resources, guarantee sustainability and efficiency in the most diverse sectors. But the lack of financial and human resources, the low practicality of the projects and the poor return of the projects also meant that, for example, giving up technology or adopting a more economically sustainable solution became a sign of intelligence. Intelligence in management, leadership, strategy.
One of the problems we face today has to do with making urgent and important decisions for the future. It seems increasingly difficult to make this decision because often the fear of not being understood or accepted compels calculations. And technology, through data and artificial intelligence, is serving as a "scapegoat" to support such decisions. But it is also true that if we are going to have computers to decide everything then we do not need politicians, we do not need leaders who risk deciding, who take courageously ideologies or policies, with errors certainly, but perhaps less onerous than leaving algorithms on the loose to decide practically all in the cities.
There are things that machines cannot decide, and above all, we cannot fall into the temptation to blame machines for any problems that may occur in the future.
It's tempting, but smart city is not just that. Not only cars without drivers, or just sensors, or bikes and sensors, will not happen in the future. More than just let algorithms return them, too bicycles and surveillance systems. These are elements that all cities will have sooner or later. What will make the difference will be to assume that a return is necessary, to return to the principle of the Polis in which the debate, the empathy, the inspiration and even some rebelliousness, are present in the decisions of the day to day. Because, I say again, if we are governed by algorithms, I fear that some layers of our society will be in danger, which is already happening at the moment.
The perfect city does not exist because humans are not perfect and the smart city can only exist with a leadership strategy and responsibility in making decisions.
I am a supporter of a balanced use of Technology and I don't consider that we can return to a world without it.
Jokia: What are the new technologies paving the way for the smart city era? Could you share 2-3 cases on the innovation adoption of emerging technologies?
There are big clusters that pave the way for the smart city and they're identified. Mobility and Energy for example. But there are other infrastructures that we know are fundamental for the smart city (at least the ones with technology). 5G and Telecommunication infrastructure is keystone to develop new projects for the future.
We tend to imagine a smart city full of technology and ultra-modern and, in a certain area of the globe it is like that. I see a great leap-frog jump in China for example for the last 5 years they gave a big impulse to disruptive technologies using AI and Facial Recognition for example. It's something harder to replicate in the western countries and bring a lot of ethical and privacy/personal freedoms to the conversation. But one thing is acknowledged this, the other is recognized how impressive and dystopian the world is right now, especially in Asia.
But, on the other side, we have another kind of smart cities that are not using the latest technology and, instead, are trying to solve problems through intelligence and creativeness.
I always give the example of the city of Vienna (Austria). They are not considered a top global smart city but they rank always as #1 as Livable city because they started a project in the 90's to tackle housing problems and, right now, it's a platform to create more conditions for sustainable progress in the city through social housing.
In the world we have to learn to understand that are big differences between countries and continents and priorities in Europe are not the same as in Africa or South America or Asia. There will be common technologies but what we need to think is if it is smart to spend public budget to deploy them or we can try to find cheaper and outside of the 'industry' solutions.
Jokia: How will you predict the future of Smart Cities in the post-coronavirus era?
Well, the covid created new problems to society and, for me, the biggest one was how to manage information and stop propaganda and avoid governmental abuse. Most of the countries experienced something new with this pandemic and it's not yet clear that the consequences are lesser than the problems they were trying to avoid. I believe that after this, a movement that I am creating called 'Free Smart Cities' will have to be part of the post-pandemic scenario. We already been seeing this growing slowly. In some places, there are experiences based in Blockchain that are trying to bring a new version of city administration based on transparency and real community-based decision. A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), sometimes called a decentralized autonomous corporation (DAC), is an organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government. Right now, it's being built in small scale but it will grow for bigger projects.
Some of these projects are billionaire utopias with their own cryptocurrencies and other aspects.
But most of them will be impossible to reach for the normal citizen and, inevitably, we will start growing a divided world. From one side the ultra-modern cities flashy and full of amazing things, with top healthcare and conditions to live in but accessible only to the rich and powerful, and on the other hand, the real world with citizens being subjugated to corrupt and abusive governments where suffer, disease, pain and depression and poverty may be a permanent presence. I recommend a movie called Elysium which can be an allegory for this dystopia though there are already real experiences being built with this purpose around the world.
The post-pandemic need citizens with clear vision of the reality.
Jokia: How prepared is Zoom Global Smart Cities Association to play a leading role in stimulating the development of global Smart Cities industry？
Our Association was created to promote a new path for smart cities even though it's a huge and hard task. We believe that Smart Cities are not a fad or a buzzword and we believe also that there’s more besides events or nice talks. Smart Cities, right now, are all the cities in the world that decide to promote the best practices and most sustainable solutions to improve the lives of their citizens and solve small or big problems using creativeness and strategies based on intelligence.
We also know that this is an impossible task for city administrations that are dealing with lack of funds and, alone, they won't be able to achieve the optimal results. That's why we consider that the city is not public property or has an owner. The city is from their citizens and public and private entities can work together to build a better place for us, for our families based on progress, freedom and transparency. Our organization can contribute connecting bridges between worlds and sectors that are too busy finding ways to avoid agreements because there's bias (political, or other kind). We're neutral and, by default we can contribute to make people see what really matters.
Jokia: What will smart travel be like in the future from your point of view?
Travel is a permanent presence in Human history. We are what we are because we travelled from one point to another. We crossed continents, we founded cities and, in modern history, we created means to travel fast and comfortable. And we made it accessible for everyone. This became a problem because it became unsustainable in many places and created problems related with excess and massive tourism. Right now, something is shifting. Access to travel is almost only available for the ones who can pay for it so I am curious also to see whether society will find its way back to a balanced option where people can interact with different people around the world and experience new cultures and find new homes if that's the case.
The use of VR/AR can also promote destinations and give a view of what can be visited.
On the technological perspective, travelling will change also especially in the energy type for planes and cars. Hydrogen is becoming a trend and even nuclear power for space travel.
I would like to think that we have a part of our elite that is creating and investing for the greater good.
Jokia: As an international Speaker and Contributor, Chair and Coordinator of numerous events around the world and specialized content platforms, what’s your benchmark to select the top-tier industrial conferences?
I understand there are too many events for entertainment and less to promote interaction and exchange of knowledge outside Academia.
There are "summits" for everything. For example, in Portugal I organized, besides SMART TRAVEL, the ZOOM SMART CITIES that is an event that everyone recognizes as a guarantor of certified information on these topics.
We know that events nowadays try to be more festive and entertaining, but my strategy has always been a careful selection of who is on stage and watching. It is a moment of sharing, contacts and obviously business.
It is not worth hiding that there is no business model associated with smart cities, it exists and everyone can perceive it, but it is fundamental that everything is done in a transparent way and that there is no doubt about the independence of entities and institutions that deal with public money.
It is essential to certify and credibility of businesses in smart cities and that is why an independent and serious entity will soon emerge with the aim of supporting companies such as cities and governments mediating all these aspects that are sometimes incomprehensibly neglected.
The events need to be also the ideal time to inspire new business, new solutions and actions and comfort even the most skeptical and technology-resistant, because what is evident to everyone right now is that being a smart city is no longer measured by zeros and ones.
About the speaker:
Mr.Vitor Pereira is the Miracle Aligner, Innovator & Dreamer of a better world through Creative and Smart Cities. As a Journalist and Communication Expert, Creative and Visionary Strategist and Deep Thinker, he is also part of the exclusive shortlist of ‘pioneers’ for the Smart Cities topics discussions.
He was first awarded with the prize of Personality of the Year Smart Cities Live 2015 (Portugal), awarded for the first time within the frame of the Green Business Week, an initiative of the AIP Foundation. He also won the Winner of THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD 1st edition 2018, an initiative from “Smart to Future” (UK’s Global Smart Cities event).
About the host:
Ms. Jokia Yin is the Founder of Innoverview and InnoKOL, the Vice Chatiman of HK International Blockchain Finance Association as well as the Head of Media at United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce。 Jokia has over 8 years of marketing and management experience, much of which has been in the Asia Pacific Region within events and PR industry. She has held key leadership roles executing market research and entry, developing sales channels and revenue generation, building marketing, finance and Operations related infrastructure for a more than 20 events related to retail, tourism, energy storage, blockchain, cosmetics domains.