How Lisbon is stepping up as a top-notch tech city

Despite a recession less than five years ago, Lisbon is proving that cities can quickly recover and rise from economic struggles with the help of a strong digital infrastructure and start-up culture. The Portuguese capital is now making this a key focus in order to operate an integrated management plan for the city, which will utilize a cloud operation centre. Here’s how Lisbon is emerging as a European tech hub, working with AI and the IoT to strengthen security, improve information systems and make the quality of life better for citizens and the rising number of tourists. — Philippe Leonard


Benefits of digital investments

When Portugal was faced with a tough economic environment, the country had one key advantage: entrepreneur Carlos Oliveira was secretary of state for entrepreneurship, competitiveness and innovation. Oliveira co-founded MobiComp, a Portuguese software company Microsoft acquired in 2008. Thanks to this background in digital technology, the government understood the importance of supporting engineering education and digital infrastructure. A number of local incubators, such as Startup Lisboa, also stepped on the scene. The non-profit association helped connect start-up companies and entrepreneurs with the financial partners they needed to grow and develop their ideas. Thanks to these initial investments, Lisbon is now being called “one of Europe’s tech cities to watch,” with a strong infrastructure that’s producing its own innovative technology solutions.

Lisbon’s smart city project

The next step toward Lisbon becoming even smarter is an infrastructure project expected to roll out by the end of the year. With the help of Japanese information technology company NEC, a cloud city operation centre (CCOC) will manage the operations for the entire city, integrating 10 internal governmental systems and 30 external systems, which are managed by partners of the municipality. “To accelerate the digital transformation of the city as a whole, we will use NEC’s CCOC for cross-integration of environmental data, data from various external entities, data from numerous municipal departmental applications, and data collected using IoT devices,” explains Lisbon city councilman Jorge Máximo.

By managing all of these systems in one place, the city will be able to analyse data in real-time and provide swift solutions that will allow for a better quality of life for citizens, as well as a positive experience for the influx of travellers. Not only is the country leading the tech wave, it’s also proving that it’s possible to live on renewable energy alone. By looking at solutions to meet the EU’s renewable targets for 2020, Portugal has already spurred its clean energy plans into action. In 2015, wind provided 22 percent of electricity, while renewable sources provided 48 percent. One year later, the country reached an even greater milestone, powering electricity for four days straight entirely with renewable energy sources.