Barcelona, here we come!

It has been interesting and busy few weeks before the Expo; We needed to get all sorts of stuff ready; New business cards, shirts, leaflets, you name it. There are two people coming from Profirator: Ilari Mikkonen (I bloggered this) and Chandra Challagonda.

We are not alone! Business Tampere has been organizing with other stakeholders a kick-ass pavilion! Yeah, we are not talking about a stand, it is a Pavilion!

If you want to hear what we have to offer on Smart City sector, come and meet us at the Nordic Pavilion:

Pavilion hall 2, level 0, stand D 122.

15.11.2021 – The Arrival

I took a train from Tampere to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Easy nice, and as a surprise, on time! Quick eats at the airport and then to the plane. It was Ibearian flight on an old 320, but no worries. Plane was pretty packed, but I got lucky and there was a free seat next to me. They offer USB changing, but unfortunately it was not working where I was sitting. We were delayed, but this was apparently no fault of the Spanish, but there was no “logistic capacity” available to put the suitcases into the plane and there was about 40 minute delay.

Getting from the airport to the Hotel was pretty easy. I took a bus, paid with Visa contactless, asked friendly people when to get off the bus and walked 500 meters to the hotel.

Getting into the hotel room was another matter, took few tries to get the card working. In the end all good and sleeping time.

16.11.2021 – Day One

Expo time! We had printed tickets ready, so it was just sliding thru the security and we are in. Safety was clearly one primary concern, temperature was measured from everyone entering, and masks were mandatory. It was nice to see everyone acting responsibly.

Happy boys

After we had set up our small section on the Nordic+ pavilion, we wanted to see what others have. We went to see city and region representatives, competitors and other companies doing amazing solutions. There are self driving cars, amazing data analysis solutions, all technical wonders and miracles. But one innovation was most cool in my opinion; ibiot. They are in the Estonian booth (which was pretty cool also). They have a solution, where they can make a dumb device running on battery a smart one. The key is to replace one battery with a smart battery and boom you get some smart into otherwise non connected dummy device.

We also hooked up with Addix with which we have been working with some time already. There are some pretty cool things coming out from that direction, and it was nice to meet live after talking the video conference talk for such a long time.

We met also many other people and it was so nice to exchange ideas and reconnect after spending so much time in the COVID-19 penalty box.

Time went by real fast, and then there was the event I was waiting most: pitching time! Companies from Tampere were given ~5 minutes time to pitch their solutions and we have ours. Once we get Youtubable content, I’ll push an update and you can replay it as many times as you want 😀 I don’t consider myself a good public speaker, but I hope it went well, and people got inspired by my message. Then it was time to crack open a beer from Pyynikin Panimo and chat with others. All and all it was a great day. Really looking forward for tomorrow, since there were so many people we did not have time talk to and I wish I had the time to talk to them all.

Special thanks for Business Tampere team for letting us tagging along and supplying enough beverages at the end of the day.

17.11.2021 – Day two

On day two we had few scheduled events: 2 Minute pitching in Nordic pavilion and speed dating with Nordic cities. I like the 2 minute pitches, as it forces you to condense your value and people do not get bored. There were many interesting pitches, and everyone was cheering for other companies pitches. Again once I get the video online, I’ll update it here, but here is a snap:

Speed dating with the cities was exiting; we got 5 minute slots with cities. That was really interesting, and we got some great contacts, It was also interesting to hear what plans the cities have, and in which situation the are in their smart city journey. Others have already running systems and are looking to develop them further, where others are in the early stages of planning and strategy making.

After these events, we went to run around again and see what there is to offer. There were so many exhibitors that we could not simply talk to all of them. And another thing was that at the end of this week there was one deadline where we needed to do paperwork. So we packed our stuff with Chandra, headed to the hotel and set to work. We were done pretty late, but still made to meet other folks from Tampere for late (from Finnish perspective) dinner. Thanks for Business Tampere and others great discussions and nice company.

18.11.2021 – Day three

Tired! We were late in the hotel and sleep was short and bit restless. But ok, time for round three. Once back to the venue energy levels were rising and we had some program also for this day: Speed dating with German cities. This time the speed dating was bit less structured than yesterday’s, but it worked out quite well. Pretty much the same story like yesterday, different cities are in different stages on their smart city journey.

All the discussion we have were in a really good spirit and I can’t wait to talk more and turn the discussions into action!

One day three there were less people and it was more calm. I think most of the people had started to think how to get home the best way. From my perspective the time in the expo was well spent; we made new friends, from Tampere and further away. The only regret was that I did not have time to talk to everyone. Well, more next time.

And we managed to meet the deadline. I think.

BONUS SECTION – Best way to get around in Barcelona

We deal with Mobility in our smart city solutions, so we naturally tend to take a look at the solutions when we go around the world. Here is our experiences in Barcelona:

  1. Walking: Good sidewalks, enough (not great but ok) lighting. OK signs and good crosswalks. Slow, but depends on the person. Limited range. No pollution we could detect. Great for mind and body. 7/10
  2. Shared bikes: Did not try, since required all sorts of paperwork and identification. Too complex. 0/10
  3. Bus: Easy to pay, contact less payment. Great for budget minded. Trip from Airport to the Hotel was 2,40€! That trip took 20 minutes. As a downside, if it’s dark, you don’t have a clear understanding where to get off, but people are nice and asking helps. Clean buses. Audiovisual on which stop is next. 9/10 or 7/10 night time.
  4. Metro: Good network, easy to navigate. Clean. Took metro from Hotel to Airport and it cost 5,15€. Audiovisuals on which stops are next. TBH, not sure if they are multilingual, can’t remember. In any case, pleasant experience. 8/10
  5. Platform Taxi (FreeNow): Went for dinner and Chandra took one to Airport. Cheaper than Metered Taxi. Car was a Seat, OK clean, nothing special. Nice driver. Arrival and availability good. We did not crash. 7/10
  6. Metered Taxi: Chandra will write this when he has time 😀

All and all, Barcelona has well functioning and developed public transport system, so I can recommend.