GrowSmarter Story

Connecting urban innovation throughout Europe: Barcelona shares solutions with students from Cologne

Connecting urban innovation throughout Europe: Barcelona shares solutions with Public Management students from Cologne
The transformation of an old textile factory into a nearly-zero energy building, the integration of multifunctional smart towers into the urban fabric, the distribution of energy obtained from urban waste for two public buildings or the implementation of charging points for alternative fuel-driven vehicles: these are some of the measures that the GrowSmarter project has contributed to in Barcelona – which was recently visited by a group of 15 students from the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration and Management of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).

This ‘Barcelona smart solutions tour’ was carried out on May 8-14 in the framework of the GrowSmarter Study Visits Programme. Designed by the Barcelona City Council with the assistance of anteverti and the collaboration of other members of the GrowSmarter consortium –IREC, Cenit, Naturgy, IESE and I2CAT–, the visit provided the students with the opportunity to see first-hand technological application of the smart solutions and meet the industry, academy and local government partners that made them happen.

Among the activities included in the tour was the on-site visit of Ca l’Alier building –which has been retrofitted in order to become energetically self-sufficient and host Barcelona’s new research and innovation center– or presentations on the design of sustainable mobility solutions and on energy district networks.

Additionally, the students had the opportunity to visit some of the most innovative urban solutions recently implemented by Barcelona’s local administration. One of them was the ‘Superilla’ (‘Superblock’) model, which aims at consolidating a sustainable mobility model while reclaiming up to 94% of public space for pedestrian traffic and social life. Multifunctional smart towers were also presented –which provide street-lighting and wireless connectivity and collect useful data for the city– as they are included in the implementation of the Superblocks with GrowSmarter’s support, becoming one of the most visible technological items of the model. The students also gained first-hand knowledge of the management of the public bus system of the city –completely redefined between 2012 and 2018– by visiting its Control Center. 

Sharing successes is key to expanding them. That is why the GrowSmarter’s Study Visits Programme aims at promoting the exchange of knowledge and lessons-learned around the innovative solutions that the lighthouse cities of the project –Barcelona, Cologne and Stockholm– and their partners have implemented. And this is particularly relevant in the case of the students from Cologne, who are taking part in a dual-studies program which allows them to study their Bachelor Degree while working as trainees at the City Council of Cologne to later on work for the city. And as each of them came with specific interests –on mobility, energy or sustainability– they all had the opportunity to get specific answers and insights throughout the tour, making it even more meaningful. We hope they enjoyed it!

Check-out the Flickr account for pictures.

Contributing authors:
·         Ana Alcantud,  Consulting Director at anteverti

·         Sergio García, Communications Coordinator at anteverti

·         Alba Soler, Consultant at anteverti

·         Hafid Ait Sidi Hammou, Trainee at anteverti