Barcelona continues to ramp up efforts to increase city’s digital capacity

Michael Donaldson, Chief Technology Council and CIO, speaks during an interview at the Seoul pavilion, installed as part of the Smart City Expo World Congress 2022, on Thursday.  (Seoul Digital Foundation)

Michael Donaldson, Chief Technology Council and CIO, speaks during an interview at the Seoul pavilion, installed as part of the Smart City Expo World Congress 2022, on Thursday. (Seoul Digital Foundation)

BARCELONA, Spain – Michael Donaldson, Chief Technology Council and CIO, said the Spanish city will continue its efforts to increase its digital capacity, highlighting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point in the city’s digital transformation.

“COVID-19 was an opportunity to prioritize our digital transformation. During the worst of the pandemic, the only sector that was growing was the IT sector,” he said during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2022 last week.

The city needs to install IT infrastructure to meet the growing needs, he said, adding that the municipality is expanding its telecommunications networks for public services, as well as start-ups and large companies. The city council’s IT department budget also increased by 12 percent to 70 million Euros ($70.2 million), according to Donaldson.

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Barcelona, ​​​​which Donaldson calls the technological center of Southern Europe, is also home to the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which made its data tool available to scientists to fight the waves of COVID-19 years ago.

Many economic jobs have been created from the computer center, Donaldson added. Many researchers, as well as private companies, also come to the computer center to use the computer infrastructure, one of the largest in Europe.

The biggest step forward, however, was made earlier this month when Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s office announced that US technology giant Cisco will open a new semiconductor chip design center in Barcelona.

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“We know that South Korea has developed a lot in that (semiconductor) sector, but we need to invest in it (this area) and that will bring many opportunities to Europe, such as creating new jobs,” said Donaldson. .

At the time, Donaldson noted that the city of Barcelona was trying to increase citizens’ rights when developing digital innovation policies. The city aims to come up with better digital public services.

Kang Yo-sik, president of the Seoul Digital Foundation, who also joined the interview, presented Seoul’s ways to overcome the city’s technological divide, including foundation education programs that could introduce adults to the high-tech field.

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Donaldson replied, “We work more or less on the same issues you do.” Barcelona has ICT agents assigned to help people with limited access to the Internet, he said.

Barcelona will develop its digital capacity “to empower people with technology, to provide the conditions to find new jobs” and other public services, Donaldson added.

When asked if Barcelona has the technological tools to ensure public safety in densely populated urban areas, Donaldson said the city currently uses drone technology, which comes “combined with artificial intelligence and computer vision.”

With technology, the city can know how many people are in a certain place at a certain time so that the city can take appropriate measures to reduce the crowding in tourist areas.

By Shim Woo-hyun ([email protected])



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