Water efficiency, smart tourism, digitizing administrative procedures … in short, boosting the economy with technology.
The smart cities they are not just a model of large cities. Medium-sized cities and smaller municipalities can also incorporate digitization, technology and energy efficiency to improve the lives of their citizens. These are the main conclusions of the event EL ESPAÑOL, Invertia and Acciona on The Smart City: ICT Initiatives for small and medium-sized cities, held on Wednesday, November 3.
“The main challenge we have in society is to take technology as a strategic tool and function in the long term, but with medium and short-term actions, with a roadmap in collaboration with all the agents and groups that are involved in the life of a city ”, he explains Elena Navarro, manager of innovation in Smart Cities at Acciona.
“This technology should have an impact on the lives of citizens so that they can assess the improvements to which it leads.” The infrastructures required to become a Smart City cannot be carried out overnight. “The more limited a city is, the easier it is for citizens to perceive these changes,” he adds.
“The Smart Cities industry allows the territory to be coherent, make it attractive and optimal to manage, it is necessary to move towards this improvement and innovation, understanding the real problems of cities,” he points out. Emilio Herrera, vice president of the Smart Cities Commission of Ametic and director of the SPEC Center of the Cibernos Group.
The technology is here and it offers solutions. “With intelligence it is possible to create resilient cities, and, even more, in dispersed territories, and it is not the only thing, with this also a whole business fabric, of wealth and economic activity is created ”. In fact, this innovative, digital and technological industry, “where we are pioneers, we can export it to other countries,” he clarifies. It is the answer to the demographic challenge of an emptied Spain.
Ametic is the employer’s association for the digital technology industry in Spain, with companies of all sizes, from large global companies in IT, Electronics, Telecommunications, to Services and Digital Content.
Technology is the tool to help improve the lives of citizens. “We have been working on the transformation of Spanish cities for ten years now, and thanks to exchanging experiences through networking, it is now possible to speak of a crystallization of models that work from large to smaller cities”, he adds Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, President of the Smart Cities Network (RECI) and Mayor of Logroño.
Therefore, it is no longer an incipient sector in Spain, but there are already many initiatives that are bearing fruit such as the electronic processing of administrative processes, efficient management of resources, smart tourism, remote control of services or the implementation utility applications for the citizen, among others.
Currently some 150 Spanish cities are already part of RECI, from the large cities to towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants. “Not everything happens in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville or Malaga, you can also live and with a better quality of life, in the middle cities,” adds the mayor of Logroño.
“We have seen in the pandemic, a focus of attraction of people who are looking for that quality of life but with the possibility of continuing with their professional development and that is what we want in medium-sized cities with artificial intelligence, technology and digitization” . The Smart City is the answer.
The Toro experience
And from a large and medium city, to smaller municipalities. This is the case of Toro (Zamora), a population of 8,600 inhabitants that has developed numerous technological projects with Acciona to be more efficient or facilitate processes.
“For example, we have sensors in the garbage cans that detect the amount of bags that have accumulated and thus decide when is the best time to send the trucks to collect them, “he says. Ruth Martin Alonso, Councilor for Urbanism and Works of Toro.
“We have two population centers somewhat far from the center of the municipality that many times it is not necessary to send the garbage trucks so frequently. With this system, we have saved in fuel, time and labor ”, he assures.
And it is not the only project that the historic city of Toro has underway. “Our economy also depends a lot on tourism, so we have created an app so that anyone who comes to visit us is informed of everything that can be done here. It is also an app that helps the neighbors themselves with useful information and the possibility of carrying out certain procedures online ”.
Technology and governance
For Joan Enric Ricart, Strategic Director of the IESE Cities in Motion Index of the University of Navarra, the development of Smart Cities does not only depend on technology. If so, ‘he would only stay in one city’fashionista‘or fashionable, you need a smart governance“.
“We must advance in both directions, because it is necessary to create a strategy with the integration of all aspects of the cities, with the participation of all the agents, but it must also be accompanied by a regulatory system that facilitates it and a change in the habits and behaviors of citizens ”. And all this under the umbrella of innovation.
“If not, we will have very conservative cities, and we have to be disruptive.” Most of the ‘smart’ solutions are very transversal “and in Spain we are very used to working in verticals”. For this reason, he proposes not only breaking these barriers, understanding that public-private collaboration is essential, between Administration and companies, but also with universities and technology centers.
“The pandemic has taught us that it is possible and in fact, has accelerated it,” he concludes.