Barcelona Digital City Plan

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By Nurfilzah Rohaidi:

"Together with input from the technology community, academic institutions and citizens, she published the Digital City Roadmap transformation plan last October. It details how Barcelona will “rethink the concept of the smart city from the ground up” from now until 2020. For “changing government and digital service delivery” alone, the city has set aside €80 million (~$US89.6 million) for 2017-2019.

The city’s approach is to put “citizens first, and then after, what kind of technology do we need”. Briefly, so far, the city has “smashed siloes” to move towards agile service delivery and procurement, and transitioned to open source software, architecture, and standards.

Barcelona is also engaging citizens to co-create policies through “participatory democracy”. Citizens have a platform to “provide ideas, debate issues, vote on things” and even decide how the city budget should be allocated, according to Bria.

And Bria’s own role as digital chief is a new one for Barcelona’s government, as part of its push towards digital transformation. “The government understood that digital technologies and ICT are not only one sector—it’s basically transforming every sector of the economy and society, and highly transforming government,” Bria says." (


Fron an interview conducted by ALBERT CAÑIGUERAL.

Francesca Bria:

"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.
  • 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 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 “Barcelona 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.""