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Study case

Planning a smart city: the case of Cartagena

By Enrique Sahún — November 29, 2019

The strategy and execution of a smart city master plan, from need to action

The Cartagena City Government, in collaboration with Nae, has prepared a Smart City Master Plan aimed at establishing coherence between the multiple initiatives that have been undertaken and the ones that will be defined in the future, with a focus on the optimal efficiency and innovation of public services, as well as economic and environmental sustainability. All the units that comprise the city government have participated in creating the plan. This was a fundamental aspect in guaranteeing the project’s success.

A smart city project must adapt to the specific reality of each city by taking into consideration the differentiating elements so they may be promoted. Initiatives should be aligned with the size, potential, and main interests of a city.

The process of preparing the master plan was based on defining the methodology, which consisted of three phases:

1. Analysis

  • Internal: Understanding the existing model and current initiatives, including the creation of diagnostic surveys.

  • External: Trends and success stories in the development of smart cities.

2. Strategy

  • Integrating the local strategy with regional, national, and European strategies.

  • Identifying specific initiatives to be carried out.

  • Reviewing legal aspects, methods for rendering services, and technological models.

3. Planning

  • Analyzing the impact of the initiatives, objectives, and estimated costs.

  • Prioritizing actions and the 2016-2020 road map.

As a result of the analysis phase, a number of strategic lines were defined that clearly reflected the city’s priorities and the aspects on which to position itself as a reference, such as:

  • Leading a model that could be replicated at coastal cities and tourist destinations.

  • Developing the singularity of the Smart project: coastal tourism and historical heritage.

  • Promoting the employability of residents and business development.

  • Using public-private collaboration models to finance initiatives.

These general lines were transformed into specific projects or Quick-Wins (high-impact and low-cost initiatives) that were considered a priority, such as:

  • Developing a collaborative portal for managing geolocated events in the city.

  • Improving the accessibility of the city government’s website.

  • Expanding ICT services for citizen involvement.

  • Extending the use of ICT for tourism.

The remaining projects that have been planned for between now and 2020 include, to name a few:

  • Replacing public lighting with low-consumption systems and remotely operated dashboards.

  • Improving the energy efficiency (lighting and heating/air conditioning) of buildings and public transportation (ecological fuel).

  • Installing sensors in parks, municipal gardens, and other urban elements.

  • Providing additional bike lanes and bike racks.

  • Improving urban mobility by expanding traffic control systems.

  • Installing a network of municipal information panels.

  • Installing public information points that offer the possibility of charging mobile devices.

  • Implementing systems that improve the accessibility of public services for people with disabilities.

  • Creating Wi-Fi areas in public places of interest.

Once the strategy and projects were defined, an action plan was created that included the effort analysis and execution costs, the priority of initiatives, and a detailed implementation schedule.

Following the approval of the master plan at the municipal plenary session, the City Government has started the process of joining the Spanish Network of Smart Cities (Red Española de Ciudades Inteligentes, RECI) and taken the first steps for implementing the plan by preparing the first projects and announcing requests for proposals, while analyzing other financing alternatives.


Download: Cartagena City Government Smart City Master Plan (PDF, 1.8 MB).

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Jordi Meya
Jordi Meya

Technology Business Unit director

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