Consortium at the Center for Technology in Government (at the University at
assess “smartness” in cities worldwide,
including Medellin in Colombia, Seattle and Philadelphia in the U.S., and
Milan in Italy. I thus consider it to be a
valuable tool for analyzing Barcelona’s
own smart-city strategy.
Although technology has always
been at the core of the Barcelona City
Council’s modernization processes,
a notable effort has sought to evolve
from an e-government focus to a
smart-city focus, gaining momentum
after 2011, a year involving a change
of the city’s government.
The new government proclaimed its
desire to reinforce Barcelona’s smart-city brand as a promoter of a new economy of urban services. The goal was to
promote Barcelona as an essential reference for all cities seeking to redirect
their economies and external views of
themselves following this paradigm.
The Smart City Expo and World Congress, held for the first time in 2011,
helped launch and promote this policy.
During the first two years under
Mayor Trias, the Barcelona City Coun-
cil had begun planning new projects,
in addition to finishing ones that had
already begun (such as the Smart City
Campus at 22@ and development of
the City Protocolb). Different projects,
with links to one another that were not
spelled out explicitly, were individu-
faceted innovation process at different
times, facilitating an evolution from
a 2.0 modela based on e-government
initiatives aimed at taking govern-
ment to citizens through more flexible,
straightforward, efficient service, to
a 5.0 model, aiming to make the city
more inclusive, productive, self-suffi-
cient, innovative, and community-ori-
Here, I assess Barcelona’s smart-city
strategy from 2011 to 2014 when Mayor
Xavier Trias of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia Party, a liberal, regionalist Catalonian party, was elected,
took office, and promoted a political
strategy of government-driven innovation based on technology to tackle the
city’s socioeconomic challenges.
Characterizing Smart Cities
Despite academic attempts to define
and conceptually describe a smart
1, 8 there is thus far no universally
accepted definition. However, several
articles and reports have identified certain urban attributes that can help give
us an idea.
For example, in 2007, Giffinger et al.
ranked 70 European cities on six dimensions: smart economy (
competitiveness); smart people (human and
social capital); smart governance (
participation); smart mobility (transport
and ICT); smart environment (natural
resources); and smart living (quality of
life). As a result, they defined a smart
city as “a city well performing in a forward-looking way in these six characteristics, built on the ‘smart’ combination of endowments and activities of
a There was never a Barcelona 1.0 as such.
self-decisive, independent and aware
citizens.” Likewise, in 2012, Cohen5
said smart cities could be understood
and evaluated through a different set
of six dimensions—environment, mobility, government, economy, society,
and quality of life—to account for several working areas measured by one or
more quantitative indicators.
Taking a simpler view, Nam and
Pardo15 identified three conceptual di-
mensions of a smart city—technology
(the key to transforming life and work
in a city), people (human capital and
education), and community (or sup-
port of government and policy)—con-
cluding, “A city is smart when invest-
ments in human/social capital and IT
infrastructure fuel sustainable growth
and enhance a quality of life, through
In 2014 and 2015, respectively,
the IESE Cities in Motion project in
Spain11, 12 launched a benchmarking ef-
fort focusing on smart cities, produc-
ing a more complex model because it
included 11 dimensions: human capi-
tal, social cohesion, economy, public
management, governance, mobil-
ity, transportation, environment, urban
planning, international outreach, and
technology. Each one includes multiple
Meanwhile, in 2012, Chourabi et al.
presented one of the most comprehensive and integrative frameworks for
analyzing smart-city progress, characterizing smart cities based on eight
dimensions, both internal and external, affecting design, implementation,
and use of smart-city initiatives (see
Table 1). It is now used by the Smart Cities Smart Government Research Practice
Table 1. Smart-city integrative framework.
A project is influenced by such managerial and organizational factors as project size, managers’ attitudes and behaviors, and
Technology A smart city relies on computing technologies applied to critical infrastructure components and services, but technology can
either improve citizens’ quality of life or contribute to the digital divide.
Governance Included are processes, norms, and practices that guide the exchange of information among the various stakeholders and their
leadership, collaboration, communication, data exchange, partnership, and service integration.
Policy context Included are the political and institutional components of the environment.
People and communities Individuals and communities affecting and affected by implementation of a smart-city initiative can involve participation and
partnership, accessibility, quality of life, and education.
Economy Economic inputs to and economic outcomes from smart-city initiatives include innovation, productivity, and flexibility.
Built infrastructure Availability and quality of technology infrastructure involve wireless infrastructure and service-oriented information systems.
Natural environment Included are sustainability and good management of natural resources.