There’s a revolution stirring in Barcelona (but not that one). It revolves around the ownership of data. ‘There is a new deal on data,’ says Francesca Bria, the woman charged with turning Barcelona into a truly smart city — a city that harnesses the power of technology and puts it to use solving the problems of its citizens. ‘We believe that data is a public infrastructure — like water, like roads, like the air we breathe — and it should be treated as such. It belongs to the citizens of Barcelona.’
This isn’t just rhetoric: Francesca Bria is taking data from big companies, and handing it back to the people who generated it. Vodafone, the provider of the city’s telecoms services, is now contractually obliged to give back the data it collects from the public, which will be published anonymously on the council’s open data portal. It wasn’t exactly easy to negotiate: ‘They resisted for over a year,’ Bria says.