During the recession, the city of Barcelona embraced the use of technology to become a smart city. Xavier Trias, the city’s Mayor from 2011-2015 ran on a platform of technological innovation in city services. The approach towards becoming a smart city involved the creation of the Smart City Barcelona team. This team was in charge of identifying existing projects and looking for new opportunities to enhance services around the city.

Smart City Barcelona

During this period, the Smart City Barcelona team looked at many areas that could be impacted. They identified 12 key areas of intervention. This included: transportation, water, energy, waste and open government. This then initiated 22 programs which involved 83 distinct projects across urban systems.

One of the projects undertaken by the city was the launch of its IoT program. The city already had a solid foundation of 500 km of fiber optic cable in the city of which they took advantage. This fiber optic network had been initiated 30 years ago when the city connected two municipal buildings. Currently, the fiber network is providing 90% fiber-to-the-home coverage. Furthermore, it has also served as the initiation point for the city’s integrated systems.

Citywide WiFi Connection

By making use of the fiber optic network, the city of Barcelona was also able to provide citywide WiFi. The WiFi Service Deployment Plan in public spaces was launched in 2015. The city invested € 3.6 million in expanding the city’s WiFi points. When the city started in 2015, they had 664 WiFi points and the aim was to connect it with other networks.

The citywide WiFi connection is known as Barcelona WiFi. This is a service that enables the citizen or visitor to connect to the internet at various access points in the city. With the introduction of this service, the city’s council aimed to encourage citizens to access the internet. The main aim of this initiative is to simplify the citizen’s daily lives via technology.

Currently, in 2017, the city has been able to successfully deploy over 1,100 access points.The latest move of the city towards a citywide WiFi connected city was the addition of WiFi to the city’s buses. Along with Aptilo Network, the city added 1,003 WiFi connection to city buses. This doubled the number of access points in the city.

By enabling the citywide Wi-Fi use in the city of Barcelona, the city’s council has successfully laid down the foundation for a smart city. The decision of the city to incorporate technology despite the financial crisis have been paying off. The city is now ranked among the top 5 smartest cities in the world.