Barcelona City Policies

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= focused on the policies promoted by the Barcelona En Comu coalition

Overview

Fron an interview conducted by ALBERT CAÑIGUERAL.

Francesca Bria:

"One key point is access to housing. The government is not only tracking down big banks that leave apartments empty but also confronting platforms like Airbnb whose business model has a negative impact on affordable housing.

Another big theme is energy transition and renewable energy. Barcelona wants to create a municipal energy company to fight the current monopoly. We are also looking into more distributed energy models, like smart grids, models that are more affordable and which allow citizens to be in control of their data.

We are also rethinking urban planning with projects like the SuperBlocks (Superilles). Aimed at giving back public spaces to citizens, they were created in a very innovative process with a digital democracy platform for large-scale citizen participation. Opening the debate brought many great ideas, but it also showed us the complicated aspect of participation. There were many conflicting interests and it was learning by doing in an iterative way.

Finally, instead of working only with big companies as governments typically do, we are also rethinking the economic model to support new economies like the solidarity, collaborative and digital economy. This also helps us fight corruption since often a lock-in of the public administration with big companies leaves little space for other players.

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Over the past year, I created a Barcelona Digital City plan to address how technology and data can help solve urban challenges. It’s divided into three main areas.

The first is digital transformation of the government through technology. This involves aspects like procurement -how we purchase technology – avoiding lock-in by working with smaller companies and ensuring that public money is invested in open technologies. To increase transparency, the city hall is also testing an open and participatory budgeting system in Barcelona neighbourhoods with the Gracia project for example, which then can be scaled up.

Together with the activist group X-Net we have also created – and this is pretty unique- an encrypted infrastructure TOR that is integrated into the main city infrastructure. It functions as a whistleblower tool for public workers to denounce cases of corruption and help us open up the public administration.


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In terms of procurement, we are also integrating clauses that address sustainability, gender and the solidarity economy. The goal is to get citizens more involved in how their money is spent and make them part of the procurement process.

We are also focusing on digital innovation with the new socio-economic innovation activity line inside Barcelona Activa as well as an incubator and accelerator for tech companies. However, most innovative are programs for digital social innovation (associated with https://digitalsocial.eu/) that acknowledge the impact of open technology on the economy, democracy and manufacturing. The Barcelona MADE project for example (Maker District in Poblenou or hosting the MakerFaire) is aimed at rethinking the future of production in cities and urban manufacturing in a circular economy way. It’s important that cities regain some industrial capacity to make them more sustainable again.


The question of data ownership and sovereignty, or “City Data Commons”, is particularly important because it raises the question of how we can make the most out of data by putting the digital right of the citizen at the core. In a world where machines are doing more and more, it’s important to acknowledge that this data belongs to the citizens, not governments. Cities should act as the intermediary and as custodians of these new rights." (http://magazine.ouishare.net/2017/06/building-the-networked-city-from-the-ground-up-with-citizens-interview-with-francesca-bria/)

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Policies