This past week, the Meeting of the Minds convened in Toronto, Canada with more than 375 invited CXOs debating the convergence of urban sustainability and connected technologies. During the three-day summit, a variety of smart public policies and breakthrough technology innovations were presented by leading innovators.

The solutions showcased– from lighting to energy grids to parking – are all designed to enable cities and metro-regions to better respond to increasingly complex challenges: urban planning, city design, network technology and infrastructure. As a keynote speaker, I had the opportunity to address a topic that was top of mind for many of these leaders – The Smart City Powered by the Internet of Everything (IoE).

Some of history’s greatest economic and social shifts are underway right now — from aging populations in many countries around the world to dramatic imbalances in economic development (with some national economies shrinking while others experience hyper-growth). At the center of it all is IoE which connects the unconnected and turns information and big data into action and wisdom by providing practical solutions. In my keynote I put the spotlight on those that address specific problems created by the shifting tides of global change.

The “smart city movement” is being driven by leaders who lead institutions that want to take control of their urban destiny. They’re ready to harness emerging IoE-driven technologies in ways that will transform their healthcare, education and improve energy management. They recognize that this means offering a menu of citizen services which enable both access and management – whether it be in safety/security, in parking, in government services, or other areas.

Smart Cities in the Making Today

Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Nice, Amsterdam and Chicago are great examples of cities taking the lead to provide social and economic change using IoE today. In each of these cases big data is becoming open data ready for citizens to use. The transformation of static data to active information allows city leaders – whether running a government, a university, a hospital or a transport network — to better understand the choices citizens make in their daily lives. I’m asking the question: How do we help cities use their hyper-connected environments to improve the city’s core systems today?

In Canada, Toronto is rejuvenating its Waterfront into a sustainable ‘Living Lab.’ Using Cisco’s Smart + Connected City Architecture, the developers and managers at Waterfront Toronto have taken advantage of the network as a platform in order to create a community ecosystem within their growing segment of Toronto. That ecosystem is being scaled to provide additional value inside this sustainable urban development project. The goals are clear: to drive growth in ways that increase socio-economic sustainability and to enhance the benefits created by smart citizen services.

Smart Cities Need Smart + Connected Wi-Fi Solutions

During the Meeting of the Minds, Cisco launched its Smart + Connected City Wi-Fi Solution which delivers a comprehensive end-to-end solution to help cities and municipalities derive sustained value from their existing infrastructure. For the announcement we were joined live by urban innovators the Mayor of Stratford, Ontario, and the CEO’s of the Toronto Waterfront and the Evergreen Brickworks which hosted the event. All these leaders have recognized that a pervasive mobility strategy is critical to underpinning the full potential that the Internet of Things can enable in terms of the experience provided to citizens, visitors and businesses.

In order to provide a platform for cities to harness the power of IoE and develop enhanced citizen-centric services, city-centric services, business and infrastructure this new wireless solution will provide a blueprint to achieve these enhancements.. They can deploy universal connectivity in a complex physical environment. They can address daily pain points such as parking, public safety and energy conservation. Some cities – such as Toronto, Hamburg, Zaragoza (Spain) and the King Abdullah Financial District Tower (Saudi Arabia) — are already in the process of deploying this solution as their framework for urban innovation.

There is power behind The Internet of Everything

In Barcelona I’ll will be giving the opening keynote at this year’s Internet of Things World Forum on Oct 29th-31st. Along with other key partners. I’m looking forward to sharing some up-to-the-moment insights on how the world is transforming today to drive real growth by providing better services for citizens and enterprises. Showcases will be on hand to demonstrate the value and benefits of IoT solutions.





Wim Elfrink

Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief

Globalisation Officer