These are the conclusions of Sofia Tenreiro, COO at Galp, and provide a general outline of the way Galp sees the transformation of cities and how the company´s electric mobility strategy, one of its major commitments, is geared to these changes. “Mobility will be different after the pandemic. We´re not going to be shut down forever, but people are no longer obliged to go to the office every day”, declared the Galp director at the start of the conversation held with Madalena Tomé, the CEO of SIBS, at the Web Summit in Portugal´s capital city. “Lisbon: a smart city” reflected the topic and marked the starting point of this meeting intermediated by journalist Catarina Carvalho.
Highlighting the significance of electric mobility to Galp, Sofia Tenreiro underlines the importance this means of transport has assumed over the last few years, not only in the city of Lisbon, but throughout the country. “People and companies want to be more sustainable and opt for other means of transport with less impact on the environment”, she believes. Carsharing and bicycles are the most popular alternatives to traditional, more polluting modes of transport in the capital, taking advantage of the growing network of cycle paths and the increase in supply with regard to shared vehicles.
However, in the opinion of the Galp director, “people leaving major cities expect to find similar solutions, more specifically electric vehicle charging points”. Sofia Tenreiro recalls that Galp already has 800 charging points dotted across the country - a number that will continue to grow – and which marks the first step towards meeting the goal for the provision of the same service throughout the country. “Users expect the same service in rural areas as well”, she reinforces. The Covid-19 pandemic has enhanced this need, as Madalena Tomé adds, due to the fact more and more people have moved from large urban settlements to quieter areas, taking advantage of the facilities provided by distance working. As far as the CEO of SIBS is concerned, this shift is also visible in electronic payments, which have increased in areas with less population density and in traditional commerce in the last few months.
IS IT HARDER TO MANAGE A SMART CITY?
Returning to major urban settlements, the question that arises is the management of what we understand as smart cities. Is managing a smart city really harder? Both the participants in this conversation believe this to be untrue. “A smart city requires different technology and organisation”, says Madalena Tomé. The CEO of SIBS believes that progress in this regard will be natural, but that “the process will take time and demand new solutions”. In turn, Sofia Tenreiro argues that data management technology will be essential, together with a large dose of discipline and a firm commitment to partnerships. “Safety will also be vital, because the more digital a city is, the greater the importance of this factor and the protection of citizens”, she stresses, adding that cities will also need to have long-term vision to enable them to implement a series of different solutions.
It should be pointed out that the growing population, the increasing scarcity of resources, pollution, water management and energy efficiency are current challenges that, if not addressed in the correct manner, will have serious consequences in the future. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the world´s population will be around nine billion people in 2050, 70% of which will be living in cities, with an increasing need for energy, challenging factors that are a matter of global concern today.