Certain smart cities around the world are leading by example. By examining the solutions that are delivering the highest impact, these best practices can be more widely adopted to replicate their success. This smart city portrait provides an overview on the smart city strategy and intelligent solutions implemented in the City of Barcelona.
Barcelona’s Smart City Strategy
Barcelona is no newcomer to the smart city scene. In 2011 it launched a project designed to make the city more innovative, listing the sustainability of energy use and of mobility, open data initiatives, flexible smart services and social initiatives as key areas for development, and it encouraged connections among researchers in both the public and private sectors with a focus on these topics.
One major early step for Barcelona was to establish new technological infrastructure on a massive scale to support and improve upon the city’s services. It created citywide networks of different types of sensors, providing real-time feedback on everything from air quality to noise, energy and waste management. Coupled with free WiFi around the city, this new level of connectivity and data collection allowed Barcelona to become a testbed for smart projects driven by the Internet of Things.
Barcelona was officially recognized as a smart city back in 2014 by the European Commission, taking the very first European Capital of Innovation prize for "introducing the use of new technologies to bring the city closer to citizens". The city had indeed pursued the application of technology to generate smart solutions for the problems most relevant to its citizens – but with mixed results.