LleialTec: ensuring the digital empowerment of local residents and groups in the Sants neighbourhood
Something has been moving in the heart of the city for years: a change of paradigm that has substantially altered the roles of both the general public and the authorities. Barcelona has a long tradition of participation and self-management, going back to late 19th century educational associations and cooperatives. However, in the last decade and in numerous projects, many local residents have gone from being simply users of the city to active stakeholders.
There are people in every neighbourhood who are requesting places for launching community projects and the resources they need for managing them. Civic-management facilities, the temporary concession of buildings or areas, such as the Empty Land Site Plan are just a few examples of this change. Many local residents have adopted the adage “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and started working on creating a different kind of city. This process is having a notable impact on neighbourhoods such as Sants, Hostafrancs and La Bordeta. Allowing local residents to enter Can Batlló in 2011 and opening Lleialtat Santsenca as a civic-management facility in August 2017 are two of the major accomplishments in this area,.
But even though there has been a clear change in the “who”, where those undertaking the management, have changed, there is still a lot of work to be done on the “how”, i.e., the way to manage these areas and the tools to be used. It is in this context that CELS, the Lleialtat Santsenca Organisation Coordinator, which we created to administer this new area recovered by local residents, is promoting the “Free Facilities” project.
A technology committee. LleialtTec, has been formed for Lleialtat Santsenca, which is fostering the digital empowerment of local residents, groups and associations. One of this new facility's main challenges is to bring the principles of community action to the field of technology and use free, ethical tools for managing it and developing communications, content creation and data storage.
Lleialtat aims to become a testing ground that can be used as a benchmark for all city organisations and facilities that are considering the recuperation of their technological sovereignty and which have common needs, such as publishing their activities, enrolment, the reservation of rooms and invoicing, which is the case for most city facilities.
The “Free Facilities” project seeks to raise people's awareness about the importance of technological sovereignty and to implement infrastructures that enable Lleialtat Santsenca to take control of its data and networks. Nowadays, the main tools for democratic organisation are Àgora, a forum that serves as a permanent online assembly, and Núvol, where the data is stored. Both of these are open-source software programs.
Access to Àgora and Núvol depends on how local residents are taking part in Lleialtat's management. All CELS members have access to Núvol documents for reading; and anyone who belongs to one or more committees can also access documents for online reading and editing. These two tools cover the basic needs of any assembly organisation while also guaranteeing good transparency practices. In addition to these tools, free operating systems have also been installed in Lleialtat's computers and WiFi has been installed, with re-used access points that have been revamped with free micro-software, to foster recycling and a sustainable digital economy.
An IT classroom has also been set up, managed with free maintenance techniques, in conjunction with Troca, a community adults school established in the facility. . Setting up the class' was suggested as a workshop for people from Sants associations.
The aim behind the “Free Facilities” project is for everything to be open and reproducible. Therefore, a website has been created as part of the Lleialtec project, documenting and explaining all the processes: https://tec.lleialtat.cat/
These are some of the first steps, but there is still a lot of work to be done, including: creating comprehensive management software for the facility, for the administration of members, room reservations, activity invoicing and inventory monitoring; installing and configuring firewalls; implementing the Guifi.net network infrastructure; configuring SAI [IT assistance], and acquiring, installing and configuring an infrastructure for services that strengthen the facility’s sovereignty.