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Smart cities in Northern Spain: technological transfer and knowledge sharing in action

by
Antonio Garrido-Marijuan, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
30 May 2017
Donostia-San Sebastian, Basque country, Spain
Donostia-San Sebastian, Basque country, Spain

I am writing this blog post on my flight back to Vienna, somehow sad after three delightful days in the Basque country. Situated in Northern Spain, this lovely region offers probably the best gastronomic experience you can get around. But Basque country is not only tapas, the Guggenheim museum and surfing. The main cities in this region are going through an amazing smart transformation, with a great contribution  from EU funded projects: Donostia-San Sebastian (REPLICATE project), Sestao (EU-GUGLE project), Eibar (ZenN project). I am certain that before long we will have a smart region project bringing the best experiences together.

Over two days, I was introduced in detail to the smart solutions with replication potential implemented not only across the region, but all over Spain, as well as the lessons learned in the process, some of which are very unique to the country. On Thursday (18 of May) I visited Donostia-San Sebastian to meet with the REPLICATE project’s partners. REPLICATE is a lighthouse project, co-funded under the Horizon 2020 programme of the EU, which is coordinated by the city of Donostia-San Sebastian and includes also the cities of Bristol and Florence. It is a follow up of a previous project, STEEP, where the same three cities developed a common framework and tools to support the individual strategic plans for their smart future. This continuation is an ideal way to transfer knowledge and support the implementation of the lessons learned during the STEEP project.

Donostia-San Sebastian demo site, REPLICATE project
Donostia-San Sebastian demo site, REPLICATE project

During the meeting we discussed the KPI guide developed by SCIS  and the REPLICATE team considered it as a great KPI framework for the projects in scope of SCIS (Horizon 2020 lighthouse projects and FP7 smart cities and energy efficiency projects). TECNALIA, the technical coordinator of REPLICATE, asserted that the framework of smart city KPIs in Europe is wide and diverse, with different initiatives such as CITYKeys, IDE4L or the previous CONCERTO projects developing indicators and procedures. Therefore, they are very positive about the clear structure and references of the SCIS KPIs Guide, as well the good coordination with several ongoing smart city projects, among which CITyFiED, in order to take into consideration the KPIs used in their work and reflect that in the final KPI framework. 

We also carried out an onsite visit to the REPLICATE ongoing works. The biggest share of works in Donostia-San Sebastian will be performed in the suburbs of the city in an attempt to revitalize this part of the town through retrofitting and constructing high efficient buildings. .

Workshop for exchanging lessons learned in Smart City Projects, Bilbao, Spain
Workshop for exchanging lessons learned in Smart City Projects, Bilbao, Spain

On Friday, EU-GUGLE organised “Workshop for exchanging lessons learned in Smart City Projects” in Bilbao, located 100 km from Donostia-San Sebastian. The participants represented several projects coordinated by Spanish partners: EU-GUGLE, ZenN, REMOURBAN, R2CITIES, REPLICATE and SmartEnCity.

The aim of the workshop was to enhance market uptake of solutions and replication by sharing the lessons learned in the projects, which is exactly what we are doing in SCIS!! I congratulated them on the great initiative of exchanging experiences in a country-wide context which is the most straightforward way to a successful replication. For those who could not attend the workshop in Spain or would like to gather knowledge for another European country, please visit us!

M. Sc. Dipl.-Ing. Antonio Garrido Marijuán works as a Junior Scientist at the Energy Department of the AIT, and for the last eight months he has been supporting the development of the Smart Cities Information System. He graduated as Dipl.-Ing. in Chemical Engineering at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spain) and holds a M. SC on Industrial Technologies. Previously to AIT, he  worked in the field of energy efficiency in buildings at the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), where he represented CIEMAT for 4 years on the EERA-Joint Programme on Smart Cities.