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The smart reinvention of Barcelona
By: Jose A.Ondivela, Western Europe Industry Market Development Manager
20 November 2013

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Can a city be reborn through technology? This is a question the City Council of Barcelona has been addressing for the past years. By being at the top of technological innovation, they were able to increase the overall productivity of their employees, reduce costs, connect citizens, implement security solutions and provide high quality information in an easy, straightforward way. It then comes as no surprise that Barcelona has been chosen both the Mobile World Capital until 2018, and the host for the 2013 Smart City Expo. As Barcelona grows into a leading innovative city, Microsoft has proven to be close ally to fulfill its vision. Take a look at how it happened.


Getting techy, getting productive.

To improve efficiency, it was crucial for city employees to access high-quality technology tools. In order to achieve this, Barcelona implemented a remote desktop computer model which allows employees to easily access their desktop from laptops, tablets or even smartphones as they are on the go. In short, they have anywhere access to their applications and data.

Communication within employees also enhances collaboration. Ergo, the need for fast email communication with high-security and low costs. To fulfill this, Barcelona picked Microsoft Exchange Online, a cloud-based email service part of the Microsoft Office 365.

Big Data insights

What is the student/teacher ratio? How about the inflation rate? If you are looking for a new place to live or expand your business Barcelona has all the information at the tip of your hand.

In 2011 the city began to use cloud based services to make useful information available to citizens. However, they only had experience with private cloud solutions set up within their firewall. This all changed after they visited the Microsoft Dublin Data Center. The platform chosen was Windows Azure. A solution which also allowed the creation of the Third Place Portal, helping mobile workers find ideal locations to work no matter where they are in the city. The scalability and security features of Azure also made the City Council launch the OpenData BCN initiative. Their ultimate goal is to promote economic growth by encouraging data sharing between city government and the public sector.

This project includes a dashboard which provides 120 key city indicators that can become a benchmark for the city’s level of development and how attractive it is to live or develop a business. This delivers on the Barcelona’s Major (Mr . Trias) vision (“I want to govern the City based on Data.”) It is available as a Windows 8 app.

Fostering Innovation

Reporting public disturbances via mobile devices is only one of the many examples of how city-living can be improved through the use of smart mobile applications. It should also be highlighted that Apps represent a new booming industry, fuelling economic growth and employment. Microsoft has long supported mobility initiatives with the Barcelona City Council and the signature of the recent public innovation agreement between Microsoft and Barcelona takes this commitment further.

The agreement aims to support entrepreneurs via the Microsoft BizSpark program, creating start-ups and helping consolidate the position of Barcelona as a center for culture, knowledge and innovation. Another core part of the public of innovation agreement is the creation of a Common Innovation Center which fosters cooperation between industries, academics and administrative bodies.

As a wrap, Barcelona is at the edge of city management. Microsoft cloud services and devices play a transformative role in supporting several of the city’s initiatives and together will take Barcelona’s vision even further. Barcelona is not only an example of a smart city, it is an inspiration.

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