25 November 2022

After holding the first Spanish Geographical Chapter Meeting (GCM) on 29 March 2022, the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) organised a second meeting on 14 November 2022 to focus more specifically on the topics of data, tourism and funding.

The meeting was introduced by Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW, European Commission) and moderated by Dolores Ordóñez (AnySolution, Tourism track coordinator, Lead Expert of Cartagena). The cities of Gavà-Castelldefels, Alicante, Cartagena and Barcelona and the island of Fuerteventura were gathered.

After each session on dedicated topics, attendees were asked questions about the challenges and measures implemented by the cities and invited to interact

Resilience through digitalisation

During the first part of the gathering, several cities took the stage to discuss their data-driven initiatives. All of them shared a common goal: to become data-driven cities, resilient to both human and environmental pressures.

Most initiatives and ambitions focused on real-time monitoring. Specific benefits of using data visualisation platforms were pointed out, such as controlling beach capacity, managing natural risks (e.g., flood prevention) and monitoring water consumption patterns.

Other cities’ testimonies spoke of mobility and technology used to bring modernisation and infrastructure. Cartagena particularly talked about deploying electric vehicle charging stations and creating a living watercourse to foster nature and urban development.

Tourism management is also city management

The cities of Barcelona and Fuerteventura then focused on the use of technology in Tourism to better manage cities, considering that challenges faced by tourism management are also becoming the challenges of city management. The two selected Smart Tourism Destinations stressed how data-driven information, such as the number of flights programmed or a heat map of social activity of residents and tourists, allows for timely decision-making, cost forecasting and proper management of resources.

Despite having different particularities, Fuerteventura being an island far from the mainland, and Barcelona the second most populous municipality in Spain, both cities equally acknowledged the benefits of managing cities and tourism with technology.

Looking for opportunities

Funding opportunities for Spanish cities were also discussed at the end. SEGITTUR (Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism), RECI (Spanish Network of Smart Cities) and PERTE (Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation) were among the financial programmes mentioned.

The last remarks of the gathering highlighted how we are living in an exceptional period of time, with substantial amounts of funds coming from public administrations. As the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) became an inspirational programme for many, cities showed their interest in knowing more examples from others, to learn from their successes and avoid reinventing the wheel.

Key outcomes

Ultimately, the second Spanish Geographical Chapter Meeting brought the following learnings:

  • It is key to move from strategy to action.
  • Talking about data means talking about collaboration and synergies between the public and private sectors, between European and national initiatives.
  • Technology makes the perfect mix when combining Smart City features with solutions against climate change.