Barcelona, the smartest city in the world

18 Feb 2015

The Spanish city of Barcelona has topped a list of the world’s smart cities, beating New York, London, Nice, and Singapore to the top spot.

Juniper Research investigated each city’s ‘smart’ capabilities and initiatives, looking at grids, traffic management and street lighting, alongside aspects such as technological capability and social cohesion.

Barcelona seemed to perform well across all aspects, with New York and London lacking in environmentally positive projects, despite finishing second and third.

Savings to be had

The report found that, globally, US$10.7bn will be saved annually by 2019 through smart grid initiatives, with reduced energy consumption and emissions driving that. The reduced emissions, it establishes, could equate to 130m barrels of oil, annually.

Bringing us through the two key historical points in modern history, Juniper note the industrial revolution for bringing out opportunities for advancement in cities, and then the 20th century’s invention of the transistor, bringing about the information age.

Now, ‘ubiquitous computing’ has emerged, with a small number of cities built with complete connectivity in mind. One such city, as yet created, is the new capital of Andhra Pradesh in India.

Local government has recruited the country of Singapore to come in and build the city from scratch, which sounds like it is going to be brilliant.

Evolution, rather than revolution

However, what’s more common is already established cities looking to greater enhance their smart technologies.


Smart city illustration, via Shutterstock

The report found that, despite substantial differences in energy market regulation and policy, there is a strong desire on a global scale to implement a ‘smarter grid’.

National energy concerns, caused by emissions reduction policies, transmission line loss and grid reliability are among the numerous drivers behind the need to transition to a ‘2-way’ grid.

However, “issues such as grid cybersecurity and winning over the consumer where smart metering is concerned still need to be addressed”, added report author Steffen Sorrell.

“Education is key – certainly in terms of stakeholder information sharing as well as promoting the full benefits of a smart grid beyond a vague notion of a reduction in energy bills.”

Barcelona image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic