03.06.2014

The Streets of Barcelona are Getting Smarter

Image | Teresa Grau Ros

The cosmopolitan, open metropolis of Barcelona aims to keep constantly ahead of the latest technology. In fact, a project that will take the city a step closer to becoming a renowned
‘smart city’ was announced a few days ago. The city council of Urban Habitat, having carried out various pilot tests in different areas of the city, has decided that all new constructions in the city will come ready with incorporated sensors that provide the necessary technology for Barcelona to become a smart city.

During pilot tests, sensors were installed in the 22@ area and the Cultural Centre of El Born, where citizens have already been able to enjoy the benefits they provide. Among these is the fact that, thanks to data collected, up to 30% savings on energy have been attained. For the moment, this technology has been implanted in Passeig de Gràcia, one of Barcelona’s main avenues, and perhaps the most frequently transited by tourists thanks to its combination of shops and Art Nouveau architecture.

The avenue has been filled with sensors invisible to pedestrians’ eyes, some of which have even been hidden under the recently changed flagstones. These detectors allow the streetlights to be regulated remotely and can track noise, wind, humidity or transit parameters at any determined time. Furthermore, they can also detect the water quality of both decorative and drinking fountains.

All the information generated by the system is open. Any citizen who wishes can check information such as whether or not the bins are full or if there’s any parking spaces available. Furthermore, it’s hoped that these sensors will also soon be installed in traffic lights in order to regulate traffic flow. It’s expected that in the coming months the Passeig de Sant Joan, Avenida Diagonal, Avenida Parallel and Les Corts district will feature some of these intelligent sensors, “smartening up” the city’s main avenues.
In related news, the Smart Citizen Kit initiative also began in Barcelona. In this small, Arduino-based plaque, any citizen can investigate figures such as temperature or humidity levels in real time and share them with the rest of the world.

Recently, Barcelona was named the European Capital of innovation, and the city aims to become a benchmark. From now on, all city reforms will include sensor installation and the necessary infrastructure for all the (soon to be installed) services a smart city should offer.

More information in iBarcelona.

A bus stop shelter in Barcelona, with a giant Android Tablet and USB mobile chargers