The 5th M2M/IoT Forum CE opening took place today in the magnificent City Hall in Vienna. The opening speech was given by Ulrike Huemer, the CIO of the city of Vienna, and was closely followed by an inspiring speech on the IoT trends and challenges delivered by Jeremy Cowan, the editorial director, publisher and founder at IoT Now.

“At first, when you think about Vienna, you probably picture the Viennese Opera, the Schönbrunn palace, or one of our famous museums – in essence, our rich culture and history. But Vienna is, in fact, a digital city, too,” said Huemer in her opening speech. She pinpointed that the ICT industry sector in Vienna employs 54 thousand people and is worth four times more than the tourism sector.

Currently, Vienna is the only city in Europe that has an actual agenda for all of the city’s digital development projects. Some of these digitization undertakings include free Wi-Fi access being gradually introduced in all public places since 2015, or a startup-friendly environment that currently provides space for over 1000 startups in Vienna alone.

The digital development agenda has been prepared in cooperation with both experts and citizens. “Citizens’ needs are at the center of all our efforts. Therefore, we thinks that a smart city is a city of participation, collaboration, and dialogue,” said Huemer.

The first keynote of the day, delivered by Jeremy Cowan, concentrated on the challenges that IoT has yet to overcome. He stated that new business models and legislation are the most important elements that are challenging us today. “Technology is already racing ahead,” he said, “but the politicians need a lot more time to agree on rules and legislation for IoT, both on the national and global level.”

According to his opinion, some more elaborate technological solutions like 5G are not going to happen anytime soon – precisely because of the legal issues that they need to overcome. “I get more excited when thinking about the services that are available right now,” he admitted and gave the examples of apps driven by the LPWAN (low-power wide area network). Even though these solutions don’t get quite as much media coverage, they enable creating unique products such as MooCall, an app that allows cutting down cattle mortality by as much as 50%.

“All these technologies have a role to play. We will continue to need a mix of them rather than one predominant solution,” Cowan summed up. “The most pressing issue is to focus on developing modern business models and legislations, so that solutions created in one country can be applied globally.”