The International Scientific Conference e-Future of Cities – Between Temptations of Exponential Technology Growth and the Concept of Human City has been held in Belgrade on 24-25 October 2019, in organization of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia (AESS) and the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Geography. Co-organizers of the Conference were the Institute of Architecture and Urban & Spatial Planning of Serbia, the Union of Engineers and Technicians of Serbia, the spa-ce.net – Network of Spatial Research and Planning in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the SPECTRA Centre of Excellence, ISOCARP, SPURS, TU Wien, TU Dresden, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Serbia, University of Belgrade – Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy, and the 88 Rooms hotel.
The Organizing Committee president opened the Conference with the text prepared by the Dipl.-Ing. in Mech. Eng. Aleksandra Dragičević from the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, who could not come at the opening ceremony. The second speaker was the dean of the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Geography, Prof. Dr. Dejan Filipović, after who the Organizing Committee president read a speech on behalf of the academician Prof. Milan Lojanica from the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
After the opening ceremony, Prof. Dr. Borislav Stojkov – the coordinator of the Conference, commenced the first session with keynote lectures. Together with Prof. Dr. Borislav Stojkov, the Conference had 16 keynote lecturers with presentations (14 in PowerPoint and one oral): Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Bernhard Müller – Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, Prof. Dr. ir. Arjan van Timmeren – Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions, TU Delft, Netherlands, Prof. Dr. Rudolf Giffinger – Centre of Urban and Regional Studies, Institute of Spatial Planning, TU Wien, Austria, Prof. Dr. Petar B. Petrović – University of Belgrade – Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Serbia, Prof. Dr. Maroš Finka – Spectra Centre of Excellence EU, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Slovakia, Prof. Dr. Biljana Stojanović – Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, Serbia, MSc Om Prakash Mathur – Institute of Social Sciences, India, Prof. Dr. Dushko Bogunovich – School of Architecture and Planning, Auckland University, New Zealand, Prof. Dr. Thomas Dillinger – Institute for Spatial Planning, Research Unit of Regional Planning and Regional Development, TU Wien, Austria, Ing. Arch. Michal Hajduk, Prof. Dr. Matej Jaššo – Department of Spatial Planning, Institute of Management, and SPECTRA Centre of Excellence EU, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Slovakia, Prof. Dr. Mina Petrović – Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia, Prof. Dr. Miodrag Mesarović – Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, Dr. Mila Pucar – Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, Serbia, and Prof. Dr. Dejan Drajić – School of Electrical Engineering, Senior Researcher DunavNET, Serbia.
The accent of the Conference was on three contemporary facts and the accompanied dilemmas, relevant in engineering and social sciences, different professions and policy making:
Fact 1: The increase and the concentration of population in urban areas, especially in the big cities and their metropolitan areas that will rapidly grow to dimensions of enormous conurbations.
Dilemma 1: Does new technology can substantially contribute to enhancing rationality, efficiency and reliability of public services, or, if not properly controlled (in less developed countries), endanger the complex urban system?
Fact 2: The amazing speed of exponential growth of technological advancements, that will, if it continues in the same pace: (A) completely change the behavior and relationships among the residents of the city, accelerate the mobility and regulate environment, or to (B) take control and authority over the people with the formula “help people” in cities, sterilize urban natural element (“the Green City concept”), and generally implement the idea of the “Brave New World”.
Dilemma 2: Whether and to what extent the growth and development of new technologies can significantly help urban sustainability and resilience, or, to what extent could possibly jeopardize it (technocratic community governance, reducing privacy, social segregation, power elite that manages technology, etc.)?
Fact 3: The relationship between people and technology is approaching the level where the technology is evolving drastically faster than the possibilities of its application, often with no available proper information on its progress.
Dilemma 3: Whether the relationship between faster urbanization and rapid development of new technology and applications (Smart City, Smart Metropolitan Area), followed by the large proportion of commercial interests, can lead to the human dimension of the city? Does new technology increase urban cohesion or technological segregation or even stigmatization?
The papers of the keynote lecturers and other presenters are published in the Book of Proceedings on 460 pages. Electronic version of the Book will find its place on the Conference web-page together with nine posters prepared by the students from the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Architecture and the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy. The posters were exhibited during the Conference, in the hall of the Conference venue. The organizers of the posters are Prof. Dr. Aleksndra Stupar, Prof. Dr. Ivan Simić and MSc Aleksandra Grujičić – University of Belgrade – Faculty of Architecture (exhibition title: Smart Belgrade: Tradition vs. Innovation) and Prof. Dr. Jelisaveta Petrović – University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy (exhibition title: Environment through the Living Practice in Belgrade).
The Conference was successfully completed on 25th October 2019 at 13:45, which is 15 minutes later than planned. After the official part, some of the attendees participated the Conference excursion: open-roof bus drive with touristic explanations in English and Serbian through Belgrade and a boat cruise on the Danube and Sava rivers. The excursion started at 15:00 and finished at 19:00.