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Visitors to Barcelona probably have a very precise idea of what their stay will look like. Most of them have an agenda that consists of sightseeing, tapas, good Spanish wine, a tour of the famous Sagrada Família, and possibly a bit of shopping. That’s what Barcelona is all about, isn’t it?
As you stroll through the city’s lively streets and watch what’s going on, you’ll notice that the interactions of local people, tourists, vehicles, and local public transportation function very well. Considering that this is a major city, the street life is amazingly laid-back. There’s a good reason for that: This Catalan metropolis is a pioneer of the “smart city” movement.
Smart cities are digitally savvy cities that create networks for integrating the areas of energy, mobility, urban planning, administration, and communication in ways that promote sustainability and enhance their residents’ quality of life. The goal of this holistic concept is to make smart cities more efficient, progressive, and sustainable in comparison to others. New technologies and innovations are used extensively to implement these networks.
Barcelona is an excellent example of a European smart city. It’s making major efforts to improve its residents’ quality of life in many areas. Two years ago, it set up “superblocks” in the city center. These are city blocks in which traffic has been reduced to a minimum. Instead of noisy, heavy traffic there are lots of pedestrians, bike riders, and green spaces. Sensors have been installed on streets throughout the city to gather information about the availability of parking spaces.
Back in 2012, Barcelona changed the route layout of the bus network. That has significantly simplified the residents’ use of local public transportation. Data lasers tell the city’s garbage collection services which garbage cans need to be emptied. Barcelona also has comprehensive wireless LAN coverage — a feature that is unique among Spanish cities. The green spaces in Barcelona are equipped with smart watering systems that measure the dampness of the soil so that no irrigation water is wasted.
There’s also no doubt that this popular tourist destination is a shining example of mobility and urban planning — and that it deserves to be called a smart city. So it’s no wonder that the Smart City Expo World Congress is held every year in Barcelona.
During the three days of the congress, cities, transport associations, and suppliers of innovative mobility solutions present their concepts for creating the smart city. Our team at Daimler has already used this platform twice to gain inspiration from Barcelona and the Expo for our development of additional moovel services, and also to present our product portfolio and our visions of moovel. That’s because moovel too is working together with cities and transportation companies day after day to make mobility as easy and accessible as possible so that cities all over the world can become smarter.
The Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform of moovel is playing a major role in this collaboration, because it enables moovel’s partners to design their own apps according to the needs of their city or company. As a result, various mobility providers can be combined in a single app, so that users can simply and easily look for, compare, and book the means of transportation they want. This is how the moovel MaaS platform is helping cities and transport associations to design more accessible mobility and thus to enhance city dwellers’ quality of life.
Another solution offered by moovel is an on-demand Ridesharing Service, which was first introduced in Stuttgart in June 2018 in order to make mobility in city centers even more flexible and user-friendly. Because the needs of city dwellers are constantly changing, we want to make mobility available on demand at any time. In addition to the on-demand ridesharing service in Stuttgart, we also launched the FlexLA on-demand ridesharing service in Los Angeles, California last October.
The FlexLA fleet consists of Mercedes-Benz Metris and Mercedes-Benz GLC plug-in hybrid vehicles, which enable FlexLA users to organize shared rides by means of an app. This on-demand ridesharing service is seen as a complement to the city’s local public transport system and is seamlessly integrated with it.
These solutions are just two examples of the innovations that moovel is implementing in cooperation with cities and local public transportation authorities. In the near future, a joint venture between Daimler AG and the BMW Group will offer even more mobility from a single source. The two companies’ respective mobility services, moovel and ReachNow, will join forces in order to create a global Mobility-as-a-Service platform. This will be a major step toward realizing moovel’s vision of “a world without traffic jams.”