Aatmanirbhar Smart Cities: How Indian cities can learn from Barcelona


The city council of Barcelona decided to implement an explicit smart city strategy in 2013. This helped Barcelona transform into the first smart city in Spain. The city council’s definition of a smart city is: “a self-sufficient city of productive neighborhoods at human speed, inside a hyper-connected zero-emissions metropolitan area”. Barcelona utilized cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to bolster economic growth and its citizens’ quality of life.

The strategy was successfully implemented with the help of local businesses and universities. The collaboration proved to be highly effective in helping transform Barcelona into a smart city.

The building and sustenance of Barcelona’s Smart City brand have been well supported by Catalonia’s autonomous government. It supported multiple initiatives across areas outside Barcelona as well. The government also cooperated well with other Spanish and EU cities.

What transformed Barcelona into a Smart City?

One of the biggest factors that led Barcelona’s transformation into a smart city is the investment in IoT for urban systems. Some of the cutting edge technological infrastructure used by Barcelona is listed below:

  • Street light-LED-based lighting system solutions have helped transform Barcelona into a more energy efficient city. It has also helped reduce the heat produced by the old incandescent lamps. Why ? Sensors in the lighting system also receive and transmit information related to pollution, humidity, temperature, the presence of people, and noise.
  • Waste Disposal-Barcelona utilises smart bins that suck the waste into an underground storage with the help of a vacuum. Because this reduces the smell coming out from garbage and helps the city detect the waste levels at different places, optimising the waste collection process. Meanwhile, the incineration of waste is used to produce energy for heating systems.
  • City Bike System-Barcelona was one of the world’s first and largest cities to implement the bike sharing system. This initiative helped reduce the number of cars in the city. The system has over 150,000 active users.
  • Bus Transit System-The bus transit system helps sustainable mobility with the help of hybrid buses. The smart bus shelters use solar panels to meet their energy requirements.
  • Noise Sensors-Low cost, easy-to-use sensors were used by residents of Plaza de Sol to detect air pollution, noise levels, humidity and temperature. The residents had complained about unbearable noise pollution levels for years and now, armed with data, they made a more pressing case in front of the city council to rethink the use of the plaza.
  • Irrigation System-The smart city of Barcelona features various ground sensors that provide live data on humidity, temperature, wind velocity, sunlight, and atmospheric pressure. This helps gardeners plan their watering schedule based on the plant’s needs. The water saved by this step has helped Barcelona earn its first phase of investment back within one year.
  • Fab Lab-A public network of “fab-labs”, small scale workshops that offer personal digital fabrication was implemented by Barcelona, becoming the first city in the world to do so. This enterprise ran under the motto of “no smart city without smart citizens”. Since no smart city can function unless its citizens participate at the grassroots level, this initiative helped involve citizens into the transformation process.

Do let us know out of the above, which one do you think has huge relevance to be adopted in our Aatmanirbhar City plan and for which City.

We shall return soon with more stories soon ….

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