Image | Miguel C.
A smart city is one that proposes ICT-based solutions to address issues related to public administration, whether with regards to governability, housing, transport, the economy, or the environment.
In Spain cities like Bilbao, Santander, Madrid, Málaga and Barcelona have been the leaders in carrying out smart initiatives to improve the lives of their citizens. However, when the magnitude of the challenges is such that they cannot be solved on an urban scale, it is necessary to expand the scope of action, forging a much broader concept of intelligence: thus are born smart regions.
The Regional Government of Catalonia’s Ministry for Business and Labor, through its General Telecommunications and Information Society Administration, launches SmartCAT Strategy, a program that seeks to turn Catalonia into an internationally prominent smart region.
Following the strategic line of the European Commission’s “Europe 2020” plan, Catalonia aims to harness the applications of technology and digital information to work on proposals for innovative public services that will promote economic growth and serve to bring about a more sustainable and integrative society.
What will the Catalonia of tomorrow be like?
The Catalonian Government’s SmartCAT Strategy will, first of all, provide support for the deployment of smart city and smart Land projects. The objective of the Regional Government of Catalonia is for no Catalonian government body, no matter how small, to go without technologies that are beneficial for the optimization of public administration and, ultimately, for the citizen. Energy efficiency in buildings and lighting, the improved management of public spaces for parking and traffic, the use of drones in the fight against fires, and the installation of intelligent irrigation systems are some of the smart initiatives that the Government intends to pursue in Catalonia. To this end it will seek to establish collaboration agreements with the private companies that engage in the development of these technologies.
The plan also includes support for the deployment of smart sectorial projects, focusing on areas such as Tourism, Commerce, Education, Health and Society. Thus, solutions could be implemented such as the use of augmented reality at selected points of interest and public health system cards on mobiles, as well as the widespread practice of telemedicine, or the regular use of mobile devices in classrooms.
From a more industrial point of view the SmartCAT Strategy is conceived to reinforce, through ICT solutions, the competitiveness of the sectors upon which Catalonia wishes to base its activity. Hence, it is looking to establish a new data industry linked to emergent Big Data technologies like Analytics, Cloud, Social and Mobile. The objective is to turn the data into knowledge, and this knowledge into action; only thus will value be generated.
Catalonia longs to be a land in which citizens can participate in decision-making. Citizens and smart government must work together to foster policies of transparency and collaboration. To achieve this it is necessary to educate society, rendering it digitally competent, and to create bidirectional communication channels that are satisfactory for both parties.
In short, the Regional Government’s SmartCAT Strategy constitutes the cornerstone of a groundbreaking development project within Spain; a revolutionary plan that, once applied, will serve as a reference point for different territories across Europe.