Promoting the connectivity of cities and regions within the Spanish territory has become a project of great importance for public administrations and companies. The aim is to ensure the well-being of people, especially those living in densely populated urban areas, without compromising natural resources. To this end, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) must be part of this transition.
Thus, the Spanish Smart Cities Network (RECI) was created in 2011 with the aim of promoting the development of smart cities in Spain and “exchanging experiences and working together to develop a sustainable management model and improve the quality of life of citizens, focusing on aspects such as energy saving, sustainable mobility, e-Government, attention to people and security”. It is an open network in which more than 140 municipal councils participate and aims to promote the economic, social and business progress of cities through innovation and knowledge.
The exchange of all the knowledge provided by previous experiences on smart and sustainable city projects in different areas such as mobility, energy, environment, tourism, security, citizen participation, among others, and the collaboration between localities considered Smart Cities, helps to take advantage of the synergies between them.
In addition, this initiative led by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) also brings under its umbrella collaborative financing programmes and public-private partnership projects as well as access to resources and financing for development.
Spain, a model in connected cities
As pointed out by Red.es, which reports to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Spain is a country that has been committed for years to the creation of various instruments to promote Smart Cities, something that has also had the support of the different levels of public administration and the promotion of public-private collaboration.
Although the smartest cities on the planet are London, New York, Paris and Tokyo, Spain has a good number of capitals in the eighth edition of the IESE Cities in Motion Index, ICIM, which analyses the level of development of 183 cities in 92 countries in nine areas: human capital, social cohesion, economy, governance, environment, mobility and transport, urban planning, international prominence and technology.
Among the cities that have made it into this ranking are Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, along with Malaga, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, La Coruña, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Murcia.
A Plan for Spanish Smart Cities
Spain has a programme developed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation that aims to promote the development of the Smart Cities technology industry and assist local entities in the transformation processes towards Smart Cities and Destinations.
This is the National Smart Cities Plan, with which the Ministry has created the necessary framework to implement an industrial policy that seeks the growth of the technology sector and its internationalisation, relying on the country’s large network of industrial and municipal associations.
The Plan hinges on four axes that work on the one hand on the promotion of demand, facilitating the process of transformation of municipalities into Smart Cities with aid for their development and specialisation; and on the other hand, on the creation of projects that demonstrate the efficiency of ICTs in aspects such as cost reduction or the promotion of innovative public procurement. In addition to these, the aim is also to help Spanish Smart Cities to offer their citizens new technological solutions that enhance their lives, and for their inhabitants to participate in all of this.
What benefits connectivity brings to cities
Addressing demographic challenges, reducing poverty and the digital divide, and fighting climate change are issues that citizens are concerned about and can be addressed with digital tools that help design programmes to reduce CO2 emissions to take care of the health of their inhabitants and preserve ecosystems, and build a network of smart, cutting-edge companies.
This requires a powerful deployment of infrastructures such as the 5G network, which in Spain covers more than 80% of the country’s territory, to enable the use of ICTs encouraging an increasing adoption of digitalisation, which is already widespread in urban areas. The benefits are many.
Among the most noteworthy are more efficient urban management, which means an improvement in aspects such as sustainable and intermodal mobility, as well as more efficient and transparent management of public services, optimised use of natural resources in such a way as not to compromise the richness of biodiversity and to protect natural spaces, and citizen participation.
All this contributes, on the one hand, to safer cities and, on the other, to efficient, transparent economic management and the growth of innovative spaces and new business opportunities.
With the rise of Internet of Things applications that collect the data generated by connected devices, it is possible to analyse this information with tools such as Big Data tools and enable decision-makers to make effective, real-time decisions.