When we hear the word “Smart City,” we often come up with an image of a future city full of automated, high-technological facilities. However, here is a city that looks a little bit different than the usual Smart City we imagine. Following city is one of the best examples of smart cities: It is Barcelona, Spain. What is the secret of Barcelona, a city that is not so much different from a typical city superficially, but being considered one of the best examples of smart cities?
No cars on the streets in Barcelona
Barcelona's biggest feature seems that they attempt to reduce traffic. A representative example of this is the “Bicing” of all parts of the city. Bicing is a public bicycle rental service in Barcelona, and it exists all over the city, which is similar to “Ttareungyi” in Korea. In practice, it is easy to see citizens using these bike rental services instead of cars in Barcelona.
There are lots of Public bicycle rental service, Bicing in Barcelona.
/Photograph by You Hyeon-dong
The fact that there are many bike rental shops does not mean bike utilization rate is high. In addition to many rental shops, Barcelona is famous for its good bike paths. In the 22@ Innovation Zone, which is the heart of Smart City, these features were more apparent, with trams running in the middle of the road and bike paths spread out on both sides. Also, there is a playground in the middle of the road which seemed safer than concerned since few cars were running.
Sandra, a resident of Poblenou where the 22@ innovation district is located, responded positively to Smart City, saying, “It is not dangerous, so it is a great place to live with children.” However, she also expressed inconvenience and complained, “Many people drink alcohol and go on a high road at night.”
This is a playground, which is in the middle of the road in 22@ innovation district.
/Photograph by You Hyeon-dong
Barcelona is a thoroughly planned city using the “superblock”
One of the features that stands out in Barcelona is that when you look down the city, you might notice that the whole city is made up of a form like blocks. Originally, Barcelona’s district was inside the walls surrounding the old downtown area until 1859. However, the city was planned to have a block structure when it collapsed the wall and expanded its size. There is an opportunity for the reform of this block structure, which is as follows.
Barcelona and its surrounding 35 regional governments have failed to meet the EU’s air quality improvement goals. In particular, early deaths from air pollution in the region were cited as a serious problem, reaching 3,500 per year. Since this air pollution is mainly caused by smoke from cars, Barcelona has devised a “superblock” as a transportation plan aimed at reducing traffic to the 21 percent level at that time. Superblock means enclosing the rim of a square with a building and a block that uses a central blank space as a garden. They are placed in three by three. Road outside the superblock, everyone can approach it by car, but inside the superblock, only residents can approach it by car. Non-residents of the superblock are not accessible by car, and can only move by bicycle or walking. The number of pedestrians has increased as the number of roads has decreased. Therefore, environmental pollution has been reduced, and this is the advantage of the superblock system. As a result of this superblock system, the ratio of walking space in urban areas increased from 45 percent to 74 percent. In addition, not only did the traffic decrease, but noise decreased from 66.5 decibels to 61 decibels on average. Moreover, it has made great achievements, with nitrogen oxides shrinking 42 percent and fine dust falling 38 percent.
City looks like a form of blocks when it is seen from above
/photography by You Hyeon-dong
What is our attitude to prepare for Smart City and Fourth Industry?
While Smart Cities are currently receiving good reviews, the tasks given to them are not just small. On the way forward, Lee Yeo-jin, a member of association of Korean residents in Barcelona said, “It is important to understand what citizens need, rather than city being smart alone. Also, we need to have systems and environments in line with that.” Also she announced that there could be some inconvenience as smart city advances, saying, “Barcelona makes people walk around as much as possible, which can make the traffic feel uncomfortable compared to Seoul.” She added, “There is little difference between taking a bus or taking a subway and walking. A person who is used to riding in a car can be uncomfortable.”
Park Hyeok, the professor of Polytechnic University of Catalonia, studying smart cities and satellites, said, “The fourth industry is not big, and no one can define it correctly, so it is important to digest it on their own.” He also said to people in their 20s in Korea, “The important thing is will.”
You Hyeon-dong, Lee Da-young firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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