Barcelona becomes an international 'smart' laboratory benchmark

25/09/2014 09:00 h

Alba Rodríguez

The Barcelona Urban Lab project that boosts urban innovation, has been recognized by the Bloomberg foundation as one of the best 20 initiatives worldwide. With Barcelona being appointed Mobile World capital, the programme is now called Mobile World Lab.

Video ‘Barcelona Urban Lab’

The commitment of the Barcelona City Council to boost urban innovation has meant that one of the most important projects being accomplished, the Barcelona Urban Lab, has been recognized as one of the best 20 projects in the world, according to a report drawn up by the foundation for innovation Bloomberg Philanthropies and Nesta of the United Kingdom.

This programme, created in 2008 within the framework of 22@, provides small and medium-sized companies the use of public spaces of the city, to implement pilot projects in a stage prior to marketing.

“These are new projects which help to improve the management of the city and enrich the concept of smart city, which defines the programme” said Paco Rodríguez, director of smart cities and telecommunications of Barcelona City Council.

The prize comes just after Barcelona has been recognized in 2014 as the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) and Barcelona has received the Mayors Challenge award for the Vincles BCN project, which aims to eliminate social isolation of the elderly through innovative ideas.

From Barcelona Urban Lab to Mobile World Lab

Coinciding with Barcelona being appointed Mobile World Capital until 2018, the Barcelona Urban Lab programme is now called Mobile World Lab to focus on projects related to the mobile, thereby converting the city into a test platform of applications, services and contents within the scope of mobility.

Over these years, 80 projects have been presented on a range of topics, a quarter of which have been tested on the streets of Barcelona. “It is a very high figure, as it must be remembered that they have all presented innovative products” stated Rodríguez.

The pilot tests have been related to subjects such as energy efficiency with examples of led lighting; the environment, with the installation of sensors to measure the air quality or noise level in the city; or subjects regarding mobility, with sensors to find parking spaces.

Success cases

The French company Connecthings is currently working with Barcelona City Council having participated in the programme in 2013. “It is a love story and we want to stay here. We have grown as a company and the project has opened a door to the rest of the world” said Louis-Alban, director of the company
It has now installed labels with the emblem contactless on the smart shelters of the city, the ‘bicing’ bicycle stations and some museums through which the public can obtain information by reading the installed codes QR and NFC with their smartphone.

Another case is the company Urbiòtica which for the past three years has installed its test bench in the Sant Martí district of Barcelona> a network of sensors to collect data to manage various urban services. Today this space is used as a sample for possible buyers.

For further information:

Barcelona Urban Lab website