By Matt Hamblen
Just about every major city wants to be called a smart city, it seems.
Take one example: Barcelona made a big splash to be considered a smart city three years ago. Since then, it has installed noise and air quality sensors along a major thoroughfare. There are also smart streetlights, smart parking and even smartphone apps for tourists to use to navigate the city’s sights.
At the city’s Llevant Beach, there are 22 self-powered lighting units, including six that rely on solar and wind power. The wind-powered units can function when wind speed is relatively slow, storing up enough energy to operate as long as six days without pulling electricity from the grid. There is also free Wi-Fi along Barcelona’s beaches, parks and other public spaces, with about half of the 1,500 planned Wi-Fi hot spots already in place. The city has also devoted a website to its smart city innovations.
While Barcelona has been widely given the smart city moniker, some technology analysts wonder if Mayor Ada Colau, a former housing activist who was elected in 2015, will continue the city’s earlier commitment to smart city technology innovations. When Colau was elected, some Barcelona citizens questioned the value of smart city projects.