Hello BEST members, 

Just last year, the city of Santander, Spain became a model for smart cities everywhere. Santander, a city with about 180,000 residents, is now equipped with 12,000 sensors. The idea began three years ago when Luis Muņoz, an IT professor at the University of Cantabria, won an $11 million grant from the European Commision to transform Santander into a smart, sustainable city. Santander was chosen because it is small enough to be saturated with sensors and can be used as a test run before spending billions of dollars on larger cities. With approximately 75% of the European Union living in urban areas, any sustainability upgrade can have a significant impact. According to one study in Barcelona, Spain, one million drivers spend an average of 20 minutes every day looking for a parking spot, producing 2,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions while doing so. The sensors hidden around the city of Santander, inside the asphalt, on street lights, and atop city buses can measure everything from air pollution to available parking spaces. This information is then communicated back to a Santander command-and-control center and back to the citizens on several smartphone applications. This application of sensors to inform the city and its citizens of real time information can help reduce traffic leading to improved air quality and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. 

I believe that smart cities can drastically improve the efficiency and sustainability of large populations. I look forward to tracking the progress as smart cities continue to improve and expand to other cities.

Lauren Frayer. "High-Tech Sensors Help Old Port City Leap Into Smart Future" NPR. June 4th 2013.

Alberto Bielsa. "Wireless Applications The Smart City Project in Santander" SensorsMag. March 1st, 2013.

Brett Nelson
Undergraduate Intern 
2014 BioEnergy & Sustainability School
Soil and Water Science Department