“Smart Cities and Municipalities Congress and Exhibition” was held on 15-16 January 2020 in ATO Congressium by Union of Municipalities of Turkey under the auspices of the Presidency with the cooperation of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Ministry of Industry and Technology.
The opening speeches of the Congress which aims to provide momentum for transition to smart cities were made President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum, Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank and UMT President and the Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Fatma Şahin.
President Erdoğan: “We do not want to see our country as a technology wasteland”
President Erdogan who remarked that significant works has been realized by the municipalities on smart cities said: “We know that some of our municipalities have already taken steps to improve institutional capacity along with the actual implementations. With all this preparations Turkey is among the outstanding countries in the world. The municipalities have a great potential in the fields of infrastructure, security, energy, management, education, training, health, building and transportation within the framework of smart cities concept. The common goal of the works in this field is to provide more effective works at a lower cost.”
Saying that the ownership displayed by the citizens for this endeavor will be higher depending on how their life quality is improved and their lives are facilitated with smart city services, President Erdogan stated that the path to brand city goals is through smart city solutions.
Pointing out that technology investments require a considerable resource Erdogan said: “The important thing is to determine the results to be obtained by incurring this financial burden correctly. If this balance is established properly the support of the investors could be received alongside municipal budget. Actually, not all smart city implementations are related to municipality.”
Stressing that, the vast implementation area of this field will be understood considering the huge transformation led by new generation technology infrastructure in human life and stating that it is crucial that the smart all city implementations to be realized by municipalities, other institutions and private sector are in harmony. Erdogan said; “Otherwise Turkey will be turned into a technology waste yard. We do not want to see our country turned into a waste yard. In order for this both our related ministries, institutions and Union of Municipalities of Turkey should assume a more pioneering role. We have to take all kinds of precautions to ensure the establishment of harmonized technological infrastructure including proving a legal basis for this endeavor if necessary.”
Minister Varank called for the mayors to use domestic products.
Minister Varank, stated that the urbanization is one of the priority areas and they are working to create cities that are human-centered, have high life quality and produce values. Reminding that the cities in Turkey proved insufficient in the face of “migration from rural to city” which started in 1950’s and brought together new problems and sociological changes, Varank drew attention to that Istanbul is the most stunning example of the said era. Stating that the population of Istanbul reached to 8 million and the number of the slums reached to around 640 thousand in 1994,Minister Varank stressed that President Erdogan provided solutions for this problem when he was elected metropolitan mayor.
Calling for the mayors to use domestic products, Varank said: “We can actually achieve domestication and nationalization in many fields thanks to the scale set by public investments and procurements. Collaborations could be made with our Ministry in long term planning and realizing the investments in industrial cooperation projects. You can make the most of our technical consultancy. Never allow any proceedings that exclude domestic products in your specifications prepared for the tenders. Your investments may be urgent but this should never hinder you from domestic product procurement. We should collectively accept being domestic and national as an essential principle for total development. If we deliver this will then there will be no obstacles for us to realize our success in defense in many areas.” He also stated that “National Smart Cities Strategy and Action Plan “was prepared with the leadership of Erdogan.
Minister Kurum: “We are developing unique strategies for each city”
Stating that the Action Plan has the characteristic of being the first in Turkey and fourth in the world after America, Netherlands and Australia, Kurum said: “It resembles a beginning of a new era for our cities. We are realizing a new system in which all of our provinces are integrated in order to conduct smart cities implementations in regional and national scale. We are focusing on the urgent needs we are developing unique smart city strategies for each city.”
President of our Union and Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, Fatma Şahin began her speech with thanking to President Erdogan and the Ministers who contributed to the congress. Saying: “We are seeing how much of an importance the smart cities are in touching human life” President Şahin stated that cities can become “smart” with strategy and smart cities are composed of components such as leadership, vision, budget, citizen oriented work, technology and culture. Drawing attention to the significance of the development of the technology in our country, Şahin said: “We cannot be just a market, we have to be a production center. We are showing a great effort to commence to national and domestic production. We are writing a new story, we will write our new story of growth with R&D, innovation, technology and environment-sensitive urbanization.”
3 Sessions, 12 Panels and 6 seminars were organized
Three main session organized with the titles of “Fundamental Policies for Smart Cities”, “Our Transforming Cities through Innovative Local Policies” and “Smart Cities and International Cooperation”. The second day of the Congress began with the panel titled “ Smart City Technologies”. In the panel where the technological developments in our country and the world were addressed, high level representatives from important technology institutions such as TURKSAT, ASELSAN, Türk Telekom, ISBAK were present. In the Congress which continued with 12 panels and 6 seminars; the subjects such as smart city technologies, smart environment, nature-sourced solutions, investment and finance management in smart cities, information security were examined, findings, problems and solutions were discussed.
The all-day event in ATO Congressium was finished with the closing speech of UMT Secretary General Birol Ekici. He expressed his thanks to the all institutions, establishments and participants who contributed to the Congress. Stating that the Congress and the exhibition hosted around 15.000 guests, Ekici said that a significant step has been taken on the road of smart cities.