Image | Sjoerd van Oosten

Tokyo, London, New York, Zurich and Paris stand among the world’s 10 smartest cities, according to the IESE Cities in Motion index. Obviously a city does not become smart all by itself. Behind this there is a whole series of people who, combining effort and technology, are continuously creating solutions and services to improve it.

In the ranking Barcelona is the top Spanish city, just ahead of Madrid. The City of Barcelona, in an effort to continue to foster the creation of smart cities, launches the global Smart City App Hack initiative, its aim being to turn citizens into App Makers by putting the FIWARE open API platform within their reach, and providing help from specialized mentors at all times. Nobody knows their cities’ weaknesses better than their own citizens. Thus, the City of Barcelona encourages cities worldwide to get behind a creative challenge that, in reality, will only enrich their inhabitants’ lives.

Barcelona is the first city to put The Smart City App Hack into practice. On 18 April the Barcelona Smart City App Hack will kick off a 6-month race that will culminate at the Smart City Expo, from 17-19 November. This is the goal set for all the participants who dream about their app being the city’s best.

How does it work?

Like any creative process, developing an app begins with an initial idea. Within the framework of the Smart Cities, ideas must fall into one of these five categories:

  • Urban Mobility: solutions designed to improve elements related to traffic, transport (public and private), parking…
  • Energy & Emission: seeking tools that favour energy efficiency or help to curb gas emissions.
  • Culture & Tourism: creating applications as part of the APPS&CULTURA initiative; that is, apps that facilitate access to culture and support the city’s creative talent.
  • Shopping & Retail: the apps in this category will be designed to provide a better shopping experience for users; finding new products, easy payment methods, etc.
  • Collaborative City: seeking solutions to engage the community in participative processes, to foster social action among groups of young people, senior citizens, patients, people at risk of social exclusion…

The Hack Session on 18 April, to be held at the Ateneu de Fabricació Digital de Les Corts, is where all the applications participating in the process will be conceived. The event´s purpose is for its participants to find their ideal associate – from among developers, designers and creative professionals – and come up with an application to improve Barcelona. Four simultaneous workshops will serve to flesh out the ideas, which at the end of the day will be presented as definitive plans. The four workshops are “FIWARE APIs”, “Barcelona + iCity open data”, “Programming code with MasterCard open APIs” (the single one in English) and “BCN contactless + Mobile ID”.


Image | Barcelona Smart City App Hack

After this the teams will pass through the following phases:

  • Concept Hack At Home (April-May): a period to work on the concept of the app, with the support of online mentors.
  • Product Hack at Home (June-August): a period to work on the creation of a minimum viable product, with the support of the mentors.
  • Online competition (September): the finished apps will be voted on by the judging panel and the public.
  • City Final (October): an event presenting the city’s 10 best apps and selecting the initiative’s winner in Barcelona.

The initiative’s best apps at the international level will be presented at the Smart City Expo. Registering for the Hack Day is free and represents an exceptional opportunity to put any idea to improve the city into practice.

This is the plan slated for Barcelona, but The Smart City App Hack is a global initiative, open to any city that wants to spur its citizens to create solutions in the five categories proposed. Helsinki and Ghent, for example, have already signed up to back the initiative.

Do you want your city to participate in The Smart City App Hack? Let’s combine forces to promote a global system of smart cities!