BCN Ciutat Digital

Barcelona, a data-driven city

Barcelona City Council and ESADE organised an event held on 25 November entitled “Data Driven Cities”, to discuss Barcelona's future as a data-driven city.

This strategy is part of the “Barcelona, Digital City” plan launched by Barcelona's Commissioner for Technology and Innovation. The aim behind the plan is to develop an open and accessible public city-data infrastructure which allows enterprises to network, where privacy and self-determination of data are protected and academia, industry and citizenship involved, making Barcelona inclusive, ethical and technically sustainable.

Gerardo Pisarello, the First Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, opened the conference reminding that data “are basic for the city’s social and economic development” and calling for an agreement for a more sustainable city:

The event brought together big names in data processing in cities and e-governance, with a top-notch round table featuring Geoff Mulgan (Director of NESTA UK), Esteve Almirall (C 4 Innovation in Cities), Gavin Starks (Director of the Open Data Institute), Juan Mateos (Data Scientist NESTA), Núria Oliver (Director of Data Scientist DataPop), Rosa M. Badia (Big Data Coordinator BSC), Adriana Freitas (co-founder of DataBeers-BCN), Núria Agell (Director of Data Science Dept. ESADE) and Gemma Galdón (CEO of Éticas Consulting). It was moderated by Francesca Bria, the Commissioner for Digital Technology and Innovation at Barcelona City Council, who argued that the public needs to be aware of the value of their data and understand their right to privacy and data protection.

It was under the framework of “Barcelona, Digital City” that Francesca Bria presented the plan as the 2017-2020 road map for technological sovereignty, focused on open, fair, circular and democratic city values.

Geoff Mulgan, the Director of Nesta UK, an applied-research organisation that concentrates its activities on the public sector, presented the need data commons, based on the view that data are the new wealth.

According to Mulgan, governments should build shared data and insisted that this wealth was not just being exploited by a number of organisations but also by everyone with access to it, thereby enabling innovation and competition.

The event's talks covered big data and mass-data analyses, which together with the machine-learning that some enterprises are using, have revolutionised the industry.

Francesca Bria highlighted the challenge of designing data policies, but pointed out the need for a new way of processing that improved the city’s management and services while protecting the rights of users and working towards technological sovereignty.

According to Geoff Mulgan: “Ultimately, the most important element are the people in the background”.