When you think of Barcelona you probably picture sandy beaches, delicious paella and refreshing sangria. Or maybe you see the works of the great architect Gaudi, the monumental Sagrada Familia or the breathtaking Gaudi Park.
What you most likely don’t think of is Barcelona as a “Smart City”, the first city in Spain to be called so and the 5th overall in Europe 2013. This was clearly seen when Spain was the host of the Mobile World conference a few weeks ago bringing Mark Zuckerberg as the keynote speaker.
So what exactly makes a city smart? Is it just the technology?
Boyd Cohen, a well-known climate strategist states that it is based on the six “Smart” indicators: Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Government, Smart Mobility, Smart Living, and Smart People. This would be a city that is looking to the future, providing more green solutions and investing in its future.
So what exactly makes Barcelona a Smart City?
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1. The fantastic bus transit system
TMB or Transports Metropolitan de Barcelona has integrated a new bus network of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. This has made it easier to use and stops more frequent and well as faster.
They have also incorporated urban sustainable mobility, by using hybrid buses they have greatly reduced emissions.
2. An excellent bicycle sharing system
Bicing has become a popular sustainable and economical form of transport. There are currently 6,000 bicycles circulating throughout the city.
The idea is simple. After paying an annual fee you receive a card which can be scanned at any of the 400 stations. You check out a bike and then check it back into a station closest to your destination. Not only is this an obviously smart solution to reduce emissions from other public transport but it also promotes fitness among its users.
3. Smart parking spaces throughout the city
Sensors placed in parking spaces use light and metal detectors to detect if a parking spot or loading area is occupied. This aids motorists in finding spots. It also provides data to officials helping them improve management of urban mobility.
Using ApparkB drivers are able to get real-time information to help them find a free parking spot.
4. Advanced waste management systems
Stinky overflowing trashcans are not something you will see much of in Barcelona, why? Compact drop off containers have been installed in the city, they have an underground vacuum network which sucks up the trash from below the ground. Not only does this keep areas clean and free of smells but it also reduces the need for trash trucks and the noise caused by them.
5. Wise use of renewable energy systems
Barcelona, as mentioned before, is often known for is sunny skies! Being the smart city that it is Barcelona has put that solar power to use. In 2006 they became the first city to require the use of solar water heaters.
Barcelona has also implemented the use of solar power into multiple other areas of the city, expanding its use every day. You will find solar panels set up through the city, proving clean renewable energy to thousands of homes.
6. It is the Mobile World Capital
From 2012 until 2018 Barcelona will be the Mobile World Capital. It beat out 29 other cities to earn that title. Because of its commitment to broadening the reach of mobility locally and nationally as well as the amazing tourism and transport infrastructure, Barcelona is the ideal city to be a leader in a technological staple.
No city is perfect and there are always ways in which it can improve. But Barcelona is truly showing that it is a leader and innovator of Smart Cities