BTS students at the Smart City World Congress 2017

November 23, 2017

From November 13th to 15th the Smart City Expo World Congress took place, one more time, in Barcelona, an event that shows the world the empowerment of cities and the impact that the digital transformation is having on where we live.

The Barcelona Technology School students, among the more than 18.000 attendees, could observe and listen from companies and leaders of different sectors, how the technological growth is impacting our communities, how the social innovation is becoming urban, opening the opportunity to live in an economy which is becoming digital and plural. A society where all of us can feel included.

A BTS student from the Master in Digital Solutions Development, Sereen Masri, explains her experience attending the event and describes her impressions of the MasterCard stand.

The Smart City Expo World Congress was quite an amazing experience. We are living in a world that is slowly but surely digitizing just about everything. The funny thing is that most of us living in this world don’t even know the possibilities. We often say and believe that “technology is changing the way we live,” but the impact of that statement is far more powerful then we can even wrap our heads around. From the IoT World Congress to the Smart City Expo World Congress all the way to the Mobile World Congress coming up in 2018, we are seeing that all of these advancements are not just ideas that might be developed. They are tangible products and services that are being applied in countries that are leading the industry towards this “more technologically advanced society.” It is powerful and disruptive, with an imperative need to empower cities and it is simply innovative beyond comprehension.

For example, I spent a lot of time at the MasterCard exhibit. This company is combining technology and data to help cities to become more inclusive, they are focused on implementing solutions that benefit residents, visitors, and local businesses.

MasterCard is developing a machine that will take contact-less payments to another level in big major cities. As many of you in Europe may know, the contact-less card has changed the way we make payments, making it a seamless process. This device that MasterCard has developed is made to revolutionize public transportation across many different cities. When you travel to a new city, most of the time you are required to buy the cities version of the metro or subway card. Some cities have a plastic card that must be refilled in order to use, while other cities have a paper card that can be refilled but also, is quite annoying if you lose it and have to replace. Something as simple as the payment for transportation discourages a lot of people from using public transportation, from the locals to the tourists. If we want to move towards a more sustainable society, that means slowly finding ways to eliminate carbon monoxide pollution. Motor vehicles cause about 75% of carbon-monoxide pollution in the U.S. alone. The overall goal here is to take your contact-less visa, MasterCard or Amex and at the touch of this card, you will be able to enter the public transportation of your choice without having to buy the city-specific card and reload it. With this advancement, people might be more willing to take public transportation considering the user pain-points have been addressed and the overall user experience has been re-crafted. This system is being used in London and they are working on contracts with cities in the U.S. like Chicago and NYC.

Another project MasterCard is working on that has been implemented in a small town in the Czech Republic. It’s basically a small sized, contact-less card that is meant to be worn on a keychain for children. This card gives kids access to all public transport, access to their schools, pays for their lunches and so much more. Parents are able to add money on to these cards and track where their children are spending their money as well as other activities. Some might wonder, is this almost too invasive? In my opinion, I believe this wearable mini credit card offers a lot of responsibility to growing children. They can learn at a young age how to manage finances, be responsible for their actions and just to feel a level of independence that I think a lot of us might not have felt as children (depending on where you grew up). I think it is also a really amazing way to implement higher levels of security in schools and so on.

Coming from the U.S., after spending these last six months in Europe, I have come to realize that despite the advancements of the U.S. and it is considered “the new world,” it is quite behind in a lot of simple technological advancements. Like the contact-less card, for example, the cards in the U.S. are still slowly moving away from the swipe feature and implementing, the chip reader. Contact-less isn’t on the radar just yet. Maybe this is due to higher levels of security, but how can we start to streamline technological advancements so that our society can be on the same page?

BTS Students at the Smart City Expo World Congress: Sereen Masri (U.S), Maria Santos (Mexico), Andrea Amorosi (Italy)










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