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How Spain is using ICT for sustainability


One of the first cities in Europe to adopt smart city technologies is the Spanish city of Barcelona. Digital technologies are integrated in many parts of the city. They provide free public Wi-Fi; they have LED lampposts with sensors that turn on when there’s a pedestrian and turns off when no one is around, thus reducing energy consumption; they have sensors that detect air quality, and even sensors that detect water levels and pinpoint areas in need of irrigation. They distribute information about employment, housing, administration, mobility, health services, security and utilities to citizens through smart phones.


But Barcelona is not the only smart city in Spain. In fact, several cities in the country are using technology to use energy more efficiently and to contribute to reducing their carbon footprint, which is vital for Spain because it is vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, such as droughts, heat waves, water shortages, and sudden flooding.


Through its Zero Carbon project, Madrid installed LED streetlights along pedestrian routes which saves up to 60 percent on energy costs compared to traditional lighting systems. Valencia’s smart waste management project uses a smart garbage container that transmits status data regarding how full it is in real-time. It allows them to prevent trash overflow as well as reduce traffic and pollution by preventing unnecessary waste collections.


In Malaga, residents and business owners can use their phones to put energy efficiency kits to manage their spending even when they are not in the country. This allows the city to have savings of over 25 percent in electricity use.


Spain is a leader in initiatives for smart cities. They use ICTs to promote connectivity of cities and regions within the Spanish territory and ensure the well-being of people, especially those living in densely populated urban areas, without compromising natural resources.


In 2011, it created the Spanish Smart Cities Network to promote the development of smart cities in the country by working together and exchanging best practices to improve the quality of life of its citizens and develop a model for sustainable development with focus on energy saving, sustainable mobility, e-Government, attention to people and security.


Meanwhile, through its National Smart Cities Plan, Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation aims to promote the development of the smart cities technology industry and assist local entities in the transformation processes toward smart cities and destinations.


Spain’s smart cities adapt to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) insofar as they aim for efficient energy management and the reduction of carbon emissions. These are also being developed as projects resulting from public-private partnerships.


As the Philippines’ bilateral relations with Spain continues to strengthen through the years, we also hope to forge digital cooperation and learn from their best practices in developing smart, sustainable cities.

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