Innovation Districts: From Barcelona to Dublin, This Is What I Know

Elections for Mayor are a-coming. With the aim of shaping my contribution to the approaching campaign, I have been reflecting lately on innovation districts. Ours, the Digital Mile (Milla Digital) is unfinished. One tends to think that all innovation districts are, by definition, unfinished. But, seriously, the Digital Mile must be one of the more unfinished innovation districts in the world, and I’ve known a few. Planned ahead of its time, built too late, never fully understood.

District layout at Poblenou and Barcelona's 22@

District layout at Poblenou and Barcelona’s 22@

I know that innovation districts are big real estate operations in the first place. Land owners, developers and construction companies are the first and primary beneficiaries. To shift the urban economics from construction to innovation we need bricks, glass and concrete. And a delicate urban planning, too. See the delicacy in Barcelona’s 22@ urban fabric, the first innovation district I knew back in 2002 and a place I have visited many times since.

In it, the legacy of Cerdà’s urban layout serves as a landing track for Castells’ discoveries about digital economy. Jane Jacobs would have approved: perfect block sizes, mixed uses, walkability. And a focused management structure, that soon shifted its efforts from urban development to economic development. The result: more than 100.000 new jobs (many of them high-skilled) and an overall impact of 15% in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the city. Continue reading


Zaragoza Sources the Code to Citizen Co-Creation


Co-creation workshop of the open mobility challenge “Bicisur”

Back in 2003, a group of local geeks and open source advocates met with Zaragoza’s future mayor Juan Alberto Belloch who, after being the last all-mighty minister of Justice and Interior in the last of prime minister Felipe González’s cabinet, was running for office for his second term. After a short immersion in the open source community, Belloch “fell instantly in love” with Linux philosophy and quickly made open source-based innovation one of the axes of his political campaign. His plans included turning the northeastern capital of the Spanish Aragón into the “Redmond of the European free software world,” for which purpose his team projected a 102-hectare innovation district, a city-wide free public wireless network and an ambitious campaign of digital literacy, with the city hall leading and paving the way by becoming one of the most advanced European administration in systems migration towards open source software. In an article appeared in Wired in May 2003 he declared “this open source battle might not be easy, but ‘open’ is the way it must be.” Continue reading


Ciudad 9000

coffee_grinderUna de las cosas que aprendimos los que nos criamos leyendo ciencia ficción, es que para que algo suceda, es necesario imaginarlo.

Todos conocemos obras en las que aparece un súper computador omnipresente y omnisciente que es capaz de servir y atender a los humanos, desde HAL 9000 de “2001, una odisea en el espacio” (del que toma el nombre este artículo), Multivac, WOPR, etc. Dejando aparte el mito del Golem que se rebela contra los humanos tan usado en estas obras, podemos decir que este ordenador empieza a existir. Es el conjunto de servicios en una ciudad.

Así que vamos a plantear una propuesta:
“Quiero que mi cafetera me despierte 20 minutos antes de que haya una bici de alquiler disponible. Y que la reserve en la parada a mi nombre” Continue reading


¿Qué le pasa al autobús que ya no me habla?

¿Qué le pasa al autobús que ya no me habla?

iot_public_servicesEn un futuro esta frase tendrá sentido y la falta de interacción con los servicios ciudadanos será tan obsoleta como imaginar que un smartphone se “cuelga” de algún sitio.

Actualmente la tecnología va empapando poco a poco las ciudades. Cada vez tenemos más elementos de la ciudad conectados, ya sea el transporte público, los edificios, los suministros, los servicios e incluso el mobiliario urbano, pero no siempre ha sido así, ni se quedará en esto. Continue reading


Designing the Hubble of cities


‘Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science’

Edwin P. Hubble

Cities are one of the most complex ecosystems in nature, one of the closest to us, humans, and one of the least understood. The different urban disciplines (architecture, urban planning, social sciences, traffic engineering, telecommunications, urban economics…) have been traditionally devoted to study the city as a collection of either physical objects or human livings.

It was Jane Jacobs who first pointed out the misalignments derived from the ‘narrowness’ of these approach, providing a broader understanding of the relationships that govern the mutual feedback between humans and objects in cities. A public space entomologist like Jan Gehl followed and performed sound observations about interactions between people and ‘physicalities in cities’. Gehl’s empirical discovery ‘first life, then spaces, then buildings’ anticipates the thought that places are a result of interactions, and not the opposite. Manuel Castells introduced the concept of flows as a governing phenomena to study thoroughly for a better understanding of cities. His influential socio-economic perspective of the city-verse as a ‘space of flows’ is at the basis of the new science of cities that contemporary pioneers like the geographer Michael Batty is trying to build. Continue reading


Internet de tus cosas

IoYTPara que el futuro se haga realidad, lo primero que debemos hacer es contarlo. En OpenYourCity nos gusta imaginar, contar, escribir y construir la ciudad en la que nos gustará vivir en el futuro. Además del urbanismo, juega un papel fundamental la tecnología. El éter que todo lo impregna y amalgama.

En los últimos años, hemos vivido una transformación en la que los ordenadores que aparecieron de forma esporádica, se han multiplicado entrando en los hogares. Se han conectado entre sí creando redes, permitiendo que nos comunicásemos de las formas más diversas y rompiendo las reglas emisor-receptor. Continue reading