A Geek's Smart City Tour of Barcelona: How the IoT can help towns

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A walking tour of Barcelona that looks at some of the ways the city is using smartcity technologies to improve the lives of its citizens, reinvigorate industry and reduce the cost of government with the Internet of Things (IoT).

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  • The geeks tour of Barcelona was a quickly put together presentation for the Australian Internet of Things Forum (http://www.thelunatickssociety.com.au/australian-internet-of-things-forum/) last month. As the Forum focused on the smart city and community applications of the IoT, this presentation showed how towns can use IoT technology in day to day operations to improve the community’s living standards, raise municipal productivity and save costs.
  • To begin with it’s important to understand why Barcelona is making the smartcity investment, it’s important to understand the economic and political context behind the decision.

    Like all of Spain and much of the European Union, the city has been hit hard by the downturn following the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent recession. The smartcity initiative is part of a plan to improve Barcelona’s fortunes and position it as one of Europe’s leading technological centres.
  • The city’s incoming administration, which includes Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives who spoke to Decoding the New Economy about the city’s plans, sees the role of the IoT as improving Barcelona’s competitiveness, attracting new industries, empowering the local population and retaining younger workers.

    When asked about the funding of the city’s IoT projects, Vives is adamant that most of the costs of wiring the city up are absorbed into the municipal capital budget – for instance, running fiber down city streets is done as part of other underground utilities maintenance. Operational savings are the other aspect of the business case for running smartcities technologies.
  • One of the key functions cited by smart city advocates are intelligent parking services, the Barcelona city council is experimenting with embedded sensors that detect the presence of vehicles. Coupled with CCTV numberplate recognition systems, motorists can book parking spots and be charged automatically.

    The sensors themselves are dumb units, just detecting when light is blocked by a vehicle parked overhead. This means motorcycles and bikes can’t use these parking spaces. Power for the sensors come from batteries an expected five year life with replacements being scheduled as part of road maintenance works.
  • One of the prized parts of Barcelona’s smart city initiative is the connected bus shelter. Along with real time transit schedules, the structures have interactive information screens, USB charging stations and Wi-Fi base stations. The shelters themselves hare connected through underground fiber links.
  • Having multiple functions in equipment is one of the key ways of improving efficiencies in the smart city. The CCTV cameras in the Barcelona’s Born District also include air quality monitoring, smart lighting controls and base stations for sensors in parking spots, garbage bins and other intelligent devices.
  • The intelligent garbage bins, these ones opposite Barcelona’s Franca Railway Station, have sensors on their lids which measure trash levels within the bins. This allows better planned collection services where bins are only emptied when necessary and routes can be planned to maximise the efficiency of sanitation department workers. Smart waste collection services are good example of the efficiency savings cities like Barcelona expect from smartcity technologies and the Internet of things.
  • The tour of Barcelona shows the steps cities are taking to harness the Internet of Things, particularly in improving the efficiency of town services. It’s early stages yet, but Barcelona is an early example of how the intelligent city of the future is evolving.
  • A Geek's Smart City Tour of Barcelona: How the IoT can help towns

    1. 1. The geeks tour of Barcelona was a quickly put together presentation for the Australian Internet of Things Forum (http://www.thelunatickssociety.com.au/australian-internet-of-things-forum/) last month. As the Forum focused on the smart city and community applications of the IoT, this presentation showed how towns can use IoT technology in day to day operations to improve the community’s living standards, raise municipal productivity and save costs. A geeks tour of Barcelona
    2. 2. Barcelona and the smart city context: To begin with it’s important to understand why Barcelona is making the smartcity investment, it’s important to understand the economic and political context behind the decision. Like all of Spain and much of the European Union, the city has been hit hard by the downturn following the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent recession. The smartcity initiative is part of a plan to improve Barcelona’s fortunes and position it as one of Europe’s leading technological centres
    3. 3. The political context – Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives: The city’s incoming administration, which includes Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives who spoke to Decoding the New Economy about the city’s plans, sees the role of the IoT as improving Barcelona’s competitiveness, attracting new industries, empowering the local population and retaining younger workers.
    4. 4. Smart parking in the connected city: One of the key functions cited by smart city advocates are intelligent parking services, the Barcelona city council is experimenting with embedded sensors that detect the presence of vehicles. Coupled with CCTV numberplate recognition systems, motorists can book parking spots and be charged automatically. The sensors themselves are dumb units, just detecting when light is blocked by a vehicle parked overhead. This means motorcycles and bikes can’t use these parking spaces. Power for the sensors come from batteries an expected five year life with replacements being scheduled as part of road maintenance works.
    5. 5. The smart bus shelter : One of the prized parts of Barcelona’s smart city initiative is the connected bus shelter. Along with real time transit schedules, the structures have interactive information screens, USB charging stations and Wi-Fi base stations. The shelters themselves hare connected through underground fiber links.
    6. 6. IoT and monitoring the connected city: Having multiple functions in equipment is one of the key ways of improving efficiencies in the smart city. The CCTV cameras in the Barcelona’s Born District also include air quality monitoring, smart lighting controls and base stations for sensors in parking spots, garbage bins and other intelligent devices.
    7. 7. IoT and connected smart garbage bins: The intelligent garbage bins, these ones opposite Barcelona’s Franca Railway Station, have sensors on their lids which measure trash levels within the bins. This allows better planned collection services where bins are only emptied when necessary and routes can be planned to maximise the efficiency of sanitation department workers. Smart waste collection services are good example of the efficiency savings cities like Barcelona expect from smartcity technologies and the Internet of things.
    8. 8. Paul Wallbank www.paulwallbank.com www.networkedglobe.com @paulwallbank The future of smart cities and how councils can use the Internet of things (IoT): The tour of Barcelona shows the steps cities are taking to harness the Internet of Things, particularly in improving the efficiency of town services. It’s early stages yet, but Barcelona is an early example of how the intelligent city of the future is evolving.

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