The region of Murcia along Spain’s Costa Cálida is known for its balmy weather, boasting over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, as well as picture-perfect beaches that double as open-air spas. The university city of Murcia—and region’s capital—is home to nearly 440,000 inhabitants and is slowly gaining a reputation as more than a resort locale. Thanks to an intelligent urban development model being put in place, the smart city has been selected by the EU as an international point of reference, sharing some of its best practices with Latin American capitals like Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, and Montevideo. Here are three of the ways the city is stepping up its smart practices and serving as an example for others around the globe to follow. -Bruno De Man
Part of the European Commission’s “Horizon 2020” initiative, the city of Murcia is taking part in the Roadmaps for Energy Project (R4E), which Mayor José Ballesta calls “an innovative project an example of cooperation and sharing of best practices between partners.” According to the mayor, “technology can not only make our cities more efficient and more sustainable but also more equalitarian. Promoting a Smart City does not just involve technology, instrumental or functional, it involves placing the people, our citizens, in the center of urban and social development.” Here’s how Murcia plans on achieving a “smart balance” between what’s been outlined as the three sectors of urban growth: economic competitiveness, social cohesion, and environmental sustainability.
- 1. Smart government: As a way to make its city council responsive and transparent to citizens, Murcia has launched a prototype for a participation platform called TuMurcia, where citizens can send the city ideas, engage in direct chats with the council, and signal incidents in town—all on their mobile devices.
- 2. Smart utilities: Sensors and devices across the city are collecting information on everything from lighting to parking and pollution that can be used for the remote monitoring of public utilities. With this real-time data, the city can save energy with street lamp and public light monitoring, as well as with temperature and humidity sensors placed in public buildings.
- 3. Smart mobility: The city is catering to commuters and those with reduced mobility by improving its public transportation system and the relationship between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. To support sustainable travel, the city has placed bike racks on buses and opened bus lanes for cyclists, in addition to incorporating electric vehicles.
Simple steps from government transparency to opening bus lanes for bikes are just a few of the measures Murcia is taking to pave the way toward its smart city status and inspire others around the globe to do the same.