Barcelona is the first city in the Spanish State coined a “Smart City” and is named the fifth overall in Europe in 2013 ahead of Paris, Stockholm, and London. And with all the noise about the Mobile World Congress this week (with Mark Zuckerberg as a keynote speaker), Barcelona is the epicenter of technology and innovation.
But, it’s not necessarily technology that makes a city “Smart”.
According to Boyd Cohen, a famed urban and climate strategist, a Smart City ranks high based on these six “Smart” indicators: Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Government, Smart Mobility, Smart Living, and Smart People. Its citizens live in a vibrant culture with an open government trying to improve green living spaces, and it makes wise investments in the future.
01. Its stellar bus transit system
Barcelona’s transport system, Transports Metropolitan de Barcelona (TMB) recently debuted a new orthogonal bus network (horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines), making it faster, easier to use, and more frequent, among other features. Its goal is for the traveler to make one transfer between any two points in Barcelona in 95% of its journeys.
The bus system also has urban sustainable mobility, reducing emissions with hybrid buses. (In fact, when it stops, you can’t even hear the motor.) One of the cleanest surface public transport fleets in Europe, it also has smart bus shelters using solar panels and screens provides waiting times. Three interactive bus shelters are already installed, which has a touchscreen and USB ports.
02. Its bicycle sharing system, Bicing
With 6,000 bicycles circulating, Bicing is a sustainable and economical form of transport, designed for citizens to travel short distances without consuming any energy.
You pay an annual fee, get a Bicing card, scan it at any of the 400 stations, check out a bike, then check it back in at the station closest to your destination. Most stations are located by other public transport stops or public parking. Recently, the new Bicing app became available for users to check out real-time availability at stations, making it easier to plan a route if one station has unavailable bikes or parking spaces.
03. Its installation of smart parking spaces
Using light and metal detectors, sensors detect if a parking spot or loading area is occupied. These street sensors help motorists find parking, but they also provide data about parking patterns, helping officials improve management of urban mobility.
Drivers can get real-time information on their smartphone to best locate a free parking space using ApparkB so they don’t have to go in circles. See more of smart parking in this video of Sant Cugat, an outside town of Barcelona that has already integrated parking sensors into the infrastructure: