The concept of Smart Cities consists of equipping urban centers with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The purpose of their digitization is to improve the inhabitants’ quality of life, increase the efficiency of public services, and lower the carbon footprint.
Specifically, Smart Cities integrate technologies such as sensors, devices, and communication networks which collect and analyze data in real time. Instantaneity is what allows informed decision-making for better management of transport infrastructure, energy use in cities, public safety, and health services.
All these advantages not only improve the daily life of their inhabitants, but also turn Smart Cities into high-quality tourist destinations. The benefits of technological tools and digitization are not only based on environmental sustainability and improving the quality of public services, but they also become an important source of income by attracting tourists.
For this reason, at Urbiotica we will describe seven projects that have turned Spanish tourist destinations into Smart Cities and thus improved the local economy.
Projects that turn Spanish tourist destinations into smart cities
By developing and implementing solutions to digitize parking and improve mobility, these projects have improved parking services in ten Spanish cities. Although we will summarize seven of them, others have been implemented in Palamós and Palafrugell (Gerona) and Alcoy (Alicante)
The backdrop is the program of 6 million euros in aid from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism to promote the digitization of the network of Smart Tourist Destinations.
One of the cities that attracts the most tourists in Spain is Barcelona, where 164 guidance sensors for tourist buses were installed at the Sagrada Familia. The advantage is that by transmitting data and information in real time, bus drivers can find free parking spots both via the web and on information panels located at key points in Barcelona.
This technological development brings a series of advantages to the traffic flow in cities with such a large number of tourists as Barcelona. For example, it avoids the traffic chaos and congestion caused by stationary, double-parked, or improperly parked buses.
The importance of these benefits is obvious for any city, but even more so in tourist destinations where better circulation is needed to benefit both residents and tourists. This is even more critical on streets close to such famous, iconic, and central monuments as the Sagrada Familia.
2.- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the project consisted of guided parking to organize traffic in the Pay-to-Park areas, with the aim of minimizing the number of vehicles looking for parking spots. Urban mobility was improved with flush-mounted autonomous sensors in the parking spots to detect the entry and exit of vehicles in real time.
More specifically, we installed 3,000 U-Spot sensors and 21 variable signaling panels, given the City Council’s need to reduce traffic jams and pollution in the summer months, when tourism is at its peak and the variable population increases.
The success of this initiative led the Las Palmas City Council to extend a second phase of the project with the installation of 3,000 new sensors. Its aim will be to improve user accessibility by reporting the available spots and efficiently managing the ones reserved for People with Reduced Mobility (PRM) and loading and unloading areas, all in real time.
The extension of this first phase in the city will also lower pollution and improve air quality for the island’s citizens and tourists, especially in the summer, when tourism increases. The end result will be the largest outdoor parking space sensorization project in Spain, which encompasses around 6,000 spots.
3.- Calpe (Alicante)
Calpe, a town on the Alicante coast, is a tourist destination turned into a Smart City with parking guidance technology in the blue zone of Calle Alemania. This is one of the main parking streets leading to Ifach west beach.
When the holiday months arrive and the influx of tourists increases, there are traffic jams caused by drivers looking for parking spots. With the guided parking solution and the installation of U-Spot sensors, technology is used to serve the sustainability of cities and improve the lives of their inhabitants.
4.- L’Escala (Gerona)
Another similar project is in the town of L’Escala (Gerona), on the Costa Brava. Seasonality marks the life of this city year after year, with huge traffic jams with the arrival of thousands of tourists looking for parking spots on the street or in parking lots.
To provide a solution, its City Council chose the technology that turns a tourist destination into a Smart City: a combination of U-Spot sensors for parking spots plus counters at the entrances and exits of the five most important parking lots in the center, with variable signaling panels to guide drivers to free spots.
5.- Calvià (Majorca)
Located in the southwest of the island of Majorca, Calvià needed guided parking solutions to lower traffic looking for parking spots at the entrance to its beach and leisure areas.
The specific project carried out in this town was to equip these areas with wireless and autonomous U-Spot sensors in the parking spots. Signs were also installed indicating free spots at key points, as well as an app that also indicates the availability of parking spots reserved for people with reduced mobility (PRM).
Ibiza is another city that proves the power of technology to create projects that turn tourist destinations into Smart Cities. The avalanche of tourists arriving on this island in the hot summer months weighed heavily on the liVES of the islanders and on their local retailers and image.
Thanks to urban guided parking using U-Spot sensors in the La Marian parking lot with real-time data, drivers are kept informed of free parking spots, thus speeding up access to the town center. With fewer traffic jams, traffic flows better, pollution is lowered, and the health and quality of life of the island’s more than 130,000 inhabitants are significantly improved.
7.- Santiago de Compostela
The seventh project we must talk about is the one that has turned Santiago de Compostela into a smart tourist destination through the implementation of U-Spot M2M sensors, which expedite parking to avoid unnecessary traffic searching for free parking spots.
This technology, supported by the guidance app that users can download to their cell phones, makes it possible to guide drivers directly to the parking spots that are available in real time, with data transmission through the mobile network.
Smart Parking solutions for tourist cities
What do these projects in Spanish tourist cities have in common? The need to solve traffic problems and find parking spots, and their environmental consequences. The objective has not only been to make the search for free spots easier with sensors and advanced communication systems but also to go much further and improve people’s quality of life.
These projects that turn tourist destinations into Smart Cities are an example of how tech solutions help environmental sustainability, urban mobility, and local and regional economic development. At Urbiotica, we specialize in developing Smart Parking solutions and smart parking lots for Smart Cities.
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