Barcelona Digital City Plan 2015-2019

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* Policy Report: Barcelona digital city: Putting technology at the service of people. Ajuntament de Barcelona / Barcelona City Council,



"At the Office of the Commissioner for Digital Technology and Innovation we believe that we must go beyond the concept of a smart city to move towards an open, innovative, inclusive and democratic city, where digital technology help us solving the big global challenges of our time: from climate change to sustainable mobility, energy transition and healthcare.

The Barcelona Digital City Plan (2015-2019) aims to improve public services, offering high quality services that are better suited to the needs of citizens. This may only be achieved through collective intelligence and citizens’ participation. The Decidim.Barcelona participatory platform is a good example of how we are all together deciding what direction public policies should take. Thousands of people are already configuring the city's political agenda and the City Council's actions are based on these collective demands."


Open Digitalisation Plan

"For over two years, Barcelona has been working on its Open Digitalisation Plan, which defines a process of major and progressive change in order to modernise the city’s administration and offer better and agile digital services to its citizens."

Ethical Digital Standards

"One of the major outcomes of this has been the creation of Ethical Digital Standards, which include the use of open-source software, open standards, data sovereignty, agile development of digital services and guaranteed privacy, ethics and security by design. All with the aim of creating a government that is more open, transparent and collaborative. The council is a pioneer in this area and has committed to investing more than 70% of the new software development budget into free and open-source software and services based on open standards, open formats, open interfaces and interoperability.

This will lay the foundation for a people-centred digital future: cities will be able to access a set of policy tools and standards that will allow them to develop technologies and platforms based on the rights of city residents, to develop long-term social innovation.

These principles and rules are summarised in the Manifesto in Favour of Technological Sovereignty shared with thousands of cities around the world:


FLOSS Barcelona

"The FLOSSBCN platform is a Hub that connects the public administration and the local free and open-source tech ecosystem and strengths the collaborative innovation economy, providing access to projects, job offers and events, and raising awareness about open source software in the local industry.

Barcelona is the first city to join the “Free Software Foundation, Public Money, Public Code” campaign, and is one of the top case studies:

Open Budget

"Accountability and the right to know are essential conditions for an open policy. The current Catalan Law on Transparency (2014) has led to many changes within the administration, including having to publish expenses and revenue from public money. In 2016, Barcelona City Council created an Open Budget tool to make city budgets more transparent and understandable for citizens.

Via this online tool, users can browse budget information by department and by year, and find out invoicing information, public expenditures in all key areas, among other functionalities, which allows them to compare the budget forecast with what was spent. It also includes interactive infographics that help users understand where revenue comes from, where public money is being spent and why. All data is available in open format, may be downloaded and can be read in Catalan, Spanish and English."

City OS / Data Lake

"The City Council has developed an open data infrastructure based on open-code, big data and analytics technology for machine learning, which uses single-window access and internal data management, known as a "Data Lake": City OS. This infrastructure provides better data governance, quality controls, more effective privacy and security and, above all, it gives the City Council a global overview of this area. The City Council has also created a new Municipal Data Office that uses City OS to make informed, data-driven decisions.

City OS works with both internal City Council data (adjudication of contracts, subsidies, Municipal Action Plan projects, districts, etc.) and with external agencies under municipal control which hold information on the city, although the City Council does not directly manage them (transport, energy, water, environment etc.)."


From the introduction

Francesca Bria:

"The Barcelona Digital Plan, co-created with the city’s innovation ecosystem for rethinking the smart city, aims to transcend its merely technological objectives, to rethink a smart city that serve its citizens. At the core of the Barcelona’s model there is a large scale participatory experiment powered by a digital participatory platform, Decidim that taps into the collective intelligence of citizens to create policies that better respond to their needs. It is built with free software and guarantees personal privacy and public transparency in a way commercial platforms don’t. We used Decidim to create the government agenda over 70 per cent of the proposals come directly from citizens. Those proposals highlighted what Barcelona’s citizens care about and thus became the priorities for the government’s Roadmap: issues such as access to affordable housing, climate change, energy transition and sustainability lie at its core.

Our Digital Government Plan outlines new directives that put citizens first; establish the use of agile methods for ICT projects and advocate for technological sovereignty. Such measures insist on re-establishing control over data and information generated by digital technologies as well as promoting public digital infrastructures based on free and open source software, open standards and adopting privacy-enhancing and rights-preserving technologies that protects citizen's information-self-determination.

The Plan also includes an ethical data strategy, which recognizes data sovereignty, privacy, encryption, collective rights to data and other fundamental citizens’ rights as its core values. We believe that city data is a common good and a public infrastructure like water, electricity, roads, and clean air. Data should be openly accessible, helping the local tech companies and local production networks to build future data-driven and AI fuelled services and solutions that can create public value and social return.

That’s why we are promoting practical alternatives, such as the DECODE project, an open source, decentralised, privacy-aware and rights-respecting data platform based on the blockchain that give back to citizens greater control and power over their data, and enable them to decide what kind of data they want to keep private, what data they want to share, with whom, on what basis. This is a New Deal on data, which does not exploit personal data to pay for critical infrastructure. In this way, the immense economic value that such data represents should be returned back to citizens. This is a decisive change that puts people first in the design of government services and reinforces their digital rights.

Barcelona aspires to evolve the smart city Agenda towards becoming a digital sovereign city – a city which empowers citizens to discuss and articulate their own priorities, set direction as well as decide upon ethical uses of technological innovations with clear social impact and public return. This transition process entails revitalising our economy and rethinking the future of work in an age of automation and robotization, and democratise production in the 4th industrial revolution with the goal of supporting more circular, inclusive, and collaborative economic models. This is what we are doing by creating an urban innovation lab, and supporting makers’ communities, the Fab City movement, and a real sharing economy.

This includes making public procurement more transparent, and sustainable through an open digital marketplace that facilitates the participation of local startups and small and medium companies.

Cities of course cannot do this big transformation alone. Everything we develop is open source, and all the code is posted on Github, so that our ideas and practices can spread.

Barcelona’s digital policies are based on a free software platform so they can be shared, reused and adapted by other cities. This will lay the foundations for a people centric digital future. Our broader goal - hunderpinned by our strong belief in democratic and sovereign cities that enhance rather than undermine common good – is to ensure that the digital revolution is serving the many, not just the few."