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Rosa García, President and CEO of Siemens Spain, argues for greater digitalisation of city centres

The rise of smart cities as the epicentre of economic and political power was the topic of debate at the most recent session of Desayunos ESADE Alumni in Madrid, entitled “How the Digitalisation of Cities Benefits Citizens”

“We haven’t been spending enough time reflecting on cities. In 2025, 14% of the population will live in megacities, where the political and economic power of countries will be concentrated. The smart management of these cities will determine the future,” declared Rosa García, President and CEO of Siemens Spain, at the most recent edition of Desayunos ESADE Alumni, which focused on the topic of smart cities. In the opinion of Ms. García, major steps have been taken but there is still a long way to go: “So far, we’ve been focusing on digitalising peripheral districts, but the city centre is the key. If I were mayor, I would begin by digitalising the heart of the city.”

“We have to imagine the city as a living macrocomputer,” commented Ms. García. “We shouldn’t focus solely on predicting but also on doing.” She mentioned the example of traffic: “We can predict where a traffic jam will occur, but we haven’t figured out how to prevent it.” In addition to mobility, the President and CEO of Siemens Spain discussed other concerns facing urban economies, such as smart management of electricity, water and waste. “We need to install sensors that make it possible to regulate all sorts of services provided in the city,” she concluded.

Talent: the key to the future

The transformation described by Ms. García can be seen in the evolution of Siemens itself. Founded in 1847, Siemens began as an eminently industrial firm: “Werner Siemens started out in a garage, using cigar boxes to build a pointer telegraph. From there, he started working to democratise technology and laying cables all over the world.” Today, the firm is focused on the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Ms. García stressed the need for talent in carrying out this transformation. “We are going to need a lot of vocational training graduates with a dual focus – people associated with the true needs of companies,” she noted. The same thing will happen with universities: nowadays, some institutions are closely linked to the business world, while others are not.” She added: “Companies will be the third pillar. They must be aware that their employees will require continuous training.”

This session of Desayunos ESADE Alumni was moderated by Pedro Navarro, Deputy Executive Chairman of the ESADE Foundation, and sponsored by QuoNext.