IBM Helps Cities in Basque Region of Spain Build A Sustainable Community and Turn Data into Insight

BARCELONA - 19 Nov 2013: Today during Smart City Expo World Congress, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced that it is working with the towns of Irun and Hondarribia, Spain, on a new Smarter Cities project. Using data from trash containers that know how much is thrown away, smart street lights that report out when they need maintenance, and parking places that know when they are empty, IBM’s smarter cities technology is providing real-time insight to help make better decisions.

Basque Region of Spain Is Turning Data Into Insight

The Bajo Bidasoa area in the Basque region of Spain is working with IBM to use real-time data to make accurate predictions and use data in new ways to become a Smarter City. (IBM: Credit)

The area known as the Bajo Bidasoa area in the Basque region of Spain, with a population of 78,000 people, is leading the way in mining patterns in vast quantities of diverse data, using real-time data to make accurate predictions, and engaging citizens via social collaboration to make the area a better place to live and work. 

At the foundation of the project, IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center software provides real-time insight into all city operations. It also powers the Smart City Center, an integrated command center where data is analyzed and shared. For example, city leaders can see the correlation between water consumption and waste generation, monitor and predict the effect of bad weather on incidents within the area, or visualize the amount of resources used across water, waste management, transportation, energy and public works departments.  

Bold city leaders from the towns of Irun and Hondarribia set out to work together to improve sustainability, encourage more citizen participation and provide greater transparency. They did this by working with technology partners IBM, Servicios de Txingudi, the local water and waste water management and street cleaning agency, and Smartland Technologies, a group of six companies including IBM Business Partner BuntPlanet.  

“The possibility of analyzing large amounts of data through new technology opens up enormous possibilities for better public sector management,” said the mayor of Irun, Jose Antonio Santano. “We live in an era of global crisis and it is precisely at this time when we need to sharpen our ingenuity to better know how to apply talent and technology for the benefit of our citizens.” 

The region has also made numerous advancements to improve its water systems under the leadership of Servicios de Txingudi by installing 32,000 sensors that collect water consumption data in real time. Water leaks decreased by 70 percent; water supply pumping costs decreased by 14 percent; and unnecessary water treatment decreased by 40 percent as a result of the ability see and manage water systems in real-time. The area is also generating renewable and efficient energy by installing small hydro plants, generating electricity from bio gas obtained from wastewater treatment, installing solar panels on water tanks, and building a combined heat and power facility (CHP facility) that allows the water treatment plant to be energy independent when necessary. 

To improve waste management and encourage more citizen participation in recycling, more than 750 compost bins were distributed to citizens, meanwhile volunteers are placing RFID tags on trash allowing waste generation to be more accurately measured and provide better insight into which social or environmental conditions create more waste and how to prevent it. Citizens are also turning to smartphones to communicate with city leaders. Incidents such as a fallen tree or traffic accident or pothole can be reported and shared including a photo and geographical information. Data is collected by the Smart City Center where issues are resolved and tracked and citizens can check the status of each.  

“We understand the importance of working with leading technology companies like IBM in order to meet citizen needs and respond to their problems,” said mayor of Hondarribia, Aitor Kerejeta. “But we are also very proud to have worked with local businesses, most from the Spanish region of Guipuzcoa, with entrepreneurs that promote economy and jobs that are close to us”. 

The community’s efforts to become smarter and more sustainable have also resulted in economic development as local entrepreneurs have worked alongside technology partners to create new technologies and in turn added jobs to the local economy. 

“The Bajo Bidasoa region of Spain has emerged as a model for other European cities as they apply leadership, collaboration and innovation to become a more sustainable, liveable area” said Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, vice president, Smarter Cities Europe. 

IBM has deep expertise in working with cities of all sizes, helping solve their toughest challenges. By bringing together cloud computing, mobile and social, IBM his helping cities realize the potential to build more sustainable, efficient cities that are focused on the needs of citizens.  

SmartLand Technologies is a group of six companies: Ikor Metering, Broad Telecom, Comymedia Proyectos y Servicios S.L.,Eptisa Tecnologías de la Información, Iluminación Inteligente Luix and Bunt Planet. For more information about SmartLand Technologies visit  

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The Bajo Bidasoa area in the Basque region of Spain is working with IBM to use real-time data to make accurate predictions and use data in new ways to become a Smarter City. (IBM: Credit)

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