Barcelona’s Smart City Strategy takes a holistic view of the various projects being developed throughout the city and uses technology as a transversal tool to manage the city’s resources and services in a more efficient way. In doing so, it guarantees sustainable social, economic and urban development with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of Barcelona’s citizens.
What is it?
One of the main ideas behind the concept of a “Smart City” is that, in order to foster efficiency and use the resources of the city wisely, it is necessary to break with the traditional silos in which the city is organised. A city becomes truly “smart” when it lets data and logic flow across its different domains.
Barcelona’s Smart City Strategy is currently formed by about 122 projects classified into 22 programmes that cover all areas of the city management, from Lighting, Water and Waste Management to Innovation and many others. Within Barcelona’s Smart City Strategy it is worth highlighting the importance of horizontal and open technological solutions and platforms applied in a transversal way to all city services. This helps achieve the goal of breaking from silos in information and solutions by enhancing efficiency and coordination. For this reason, two of these 22 programmes are of extreme importance due to their transversal and horizontal nature, allowing for many vertical solutions to be integrated into them: the Telecommunications Network and the Urban Platform.
How does it work?
Not only at an organisational level but also at a technological level, we find examples of this transversal approach to city development. Before, most solutions to the city’s challenges were in silos, making the city dependent on specific technologies, products or providers that solved specific problems in an isolated way without sharing their data. However, thanks to transversal technological programmes such as the Telecommunications Network or the Urban Platform, both owned by the city, this information can be collected, managed and communicated in a common way, making it easier to share and manage city data and services.
The Urban Platform provides an IT architecture model of the city, which is replicable and open sourced, and is formed by three layers:
- A bottom layer,collects the raw data produced by the city, and is formed by four groups of different kinds of data with their own logic and management: a sensors and actuators platform called Sentilo (currently providing measures for 2,200 parameters), the City Council’s information systems data (people, procedures, etc.), data from the city’s information systems (infrastructures, mobility, etc.), and data from Social Networks and Web 2.0.
- A City Operating System, the intelligence component of the Urban Platform, based on three elements: a City Model that pilots the City Operating System; a universal repository where all historic information of the city is stored; and a manager of information treatment processes that, based on the City Model, applies intelligence to the set of stored information.
- A top layer formed by applications and control centres aimed at visualising the data and finding useful applications for it.
The Urban Platform, as well as many other programmes, relies on the city Telecommunications Network to transfer information. This network integrates all of the city’s Fiber Optic and Wi-Fi networks into one. In addition to being the corporate municipal network used by the City Council departments, the Telecommunications Network is also providing free Wi-Fi connectivity to citizens, with more than 500 access points already in operation throughout the city.
Many of the programmes included within the Smart City Strategy are aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the city on our environment. For example, the Self-Sufficient Buildings project monitors the energy within City Council’s buildings, allowing us to know the building consumption in real time, detect deviations and correct them. This action is estimated to reduce 2.14 kg per year of NOx and 0.38 PM10 by 2015 from 2011 levels.
The next steps of the Smart City Strategy include rethinking the city’s systems to achieve more sustainable urban, social and economic development, and working towards the transformation of Barcelona into a city of productive, self- and eco-efficient neighbourhoods regenerated at zero emissions, inside a high-speed interconnected metropolitan area.
During this process, Barcelona aims to actively involve the citizenship in a participative way, thereby promoting the concept of civic innovation. With this purpose in mind, a complete informational campaign will be launched in order to guarantee that every citizen understands the aim of the strategy and the projects it contains, as well as how they can get involved with many of them. The most powerful tool the city plans to use for this campaign will be the Barcelona Smart City website, http://smartcity.bcn.cat/en/, which presents all information about the Smart City concept and how it is being implemented in Barcelona.
This strategy is already being implemented in the city and many of its solutions can already be found throughout Barcelona. Some technological solutions are naturally integrated into the citizens’ everyday life and they are already enjoying their benefits. The private sector is also sharing in Barcelona’s vision, collaborating with the city to innovate and develop new solutions to meet its challenges.
Júlia López i Ventura
Urban Habitat, Barcelona City Council
Smart City Strategy and ICT International Office