What's the Latest Development?
Three years after receiving an $11 million grant from the European Union, the city of Santander in northern Spain has transformed itself into a prototype "smart city" that has attracted delegations from China and the US as well as from Google and Microsoft. Its 36-square-kilometer area is studded with 10,000 sensors that deliver data about everything from parking space availability to dumpster capacity to streetlight luminosity. Residents and officials can access the data through their mobile phones or tablets.
What's the Big Idea?
The project was conceived at the University of Cantabria by a team of researchers led by professor Luis Munoz, but only came to fruition in the last few years as technology matured. Now, says team member Veronica Gutierrez, Santander represents a true smart city, "one that uses [technology and data] to use resources in a more sustainable way." Besides saving money, the initiative has helped officials cut down response times significantly due to residents' supplying photos of issues that need fixing. "It’s a new way of making people participate in the management of the city," says mayor Inigo de la Serna. Future projects involving customizing services even further so that, for example, a person with pollen allergies could use sensor data to help them map a safer walk to work.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com