Spain has always been at the forefront of implementing smart solutions in its cities. Drawing on Spain’s innovation-friendly infrastructure, cities like Barcelona and Santander have become beacons for change, and now Madrid is the city showing everyone just how much smarter a smart city can be.
Madrid is tackling traffic congestion, pollution and public services, but takes a unique bottom-up approach to using digital data. By focusing less on how or how much data is collected, and more on the question of why we gather data, Madrid aims to keep solutions citizen-centric, and avoid the pitfalls of a technology disassociated from the people.
Spain is no newcomer to the smart city. In the last two decades, it has invested heavily in renewable energy and ICT grids. The two industries provide a platform of cooperation between public administration, business and social institutions – a keystone of the smart city concept. Spain also is home to many centers of research and development which create digital-based technologies exported around the world.
The Spanish Network of Smart Cities, founded to support a city model that is sustainable and improves citizens’ quality of life, now includes dozens of cities. From Santander to Malaga, Spanish cities are emerging as role models for smart solutions ranging from water management to green mobility. The IoT Institute even named Barcelona one of the top 5 smart cities in the world.
Now the smart city community is turning an ear to Madrid, where the next solutions for the smart-city concept are evolving. Instead of starting at the top and looking at all the city grids that can be connected, Madrid takes a bottom-up approach, asking first which social problems need to be addressed by new, individual technologies or networks.
Madrid also wants to avoid the pitfalls of using a single system. This locks public services into one central grid for decades, and uses (but does not share) data generated by its citizens. One system can also inhibit smaller innovative solutions from growing organically as new issues arise.
Madrid envisions an “ecosystem” of diverse and competing networks and solutions.
Madrid has found that digital technology can be tailored to target a particular issue, whether it’s traffic control or access to buildings and public transportation networks. Cloud-based software is rapidly improving how people get from A to B. For example, MAX from thyssenkrupp Elevator and Microsoft is creating predictive analysis maintenance.
In the Metro, Madrid is improving overall access to the platforms by using MAX in 156 elevators. This will particularly benefit handicapped passengers, for whom access has been a long-standing issue in the city’s public transportation system. Through MAX, technicians will be instantly alerted to problems, which will reduce downtime for repairs and better protect accessibility for everyone.
It is also found in flagship “green” buildings like the BBVA Headquarters, easing workers’ commute and connecting people better. Installed in 60 elevators, MAX keeps an eye on maintenance issues to avoid costly disruptions.
Such solutions are being implemented throughout the city’s transportation and street networks to connect people better and bring neighborhoods, once isolated, together, supporting economic sustainability.Madrid has found that digital technology can be tailored to target a particular issue, whether it’s traffic control or access to buildings and public transportation networks. Cloud-based software is rapidly improving how people get from A to B. For example, MAX from thyssenkrupp Elevator and Microsoft is creating predictive analysis maintenance.
Pilar López, President of Microsoft Ibérica
Madrid is now showcasing some of the most cutting-edge digital technology like the MAX software which was tested in Spain’s R&D Center in Gijon, making it an urban center people will be watching the future. Madrid has also found a way to keep innovation connected to the people and the real issues, ensuring an open environment where all can participate.
Madrid’s unique engagement with the smart cities concept has opened a new level about what we want technology to do for cities, and who should steer the decisions about how the technology is used. As a result, the tools for building the smart city remain stimulating, flexible and open to innovation.