Spain has been a test case in Europe for whether austerity and structural overhauls can save its fiscally weak economies. A direct consequence of austerity programs is the use of smart technologies to simplify process and drastically reduce operational expenses.
This motivated many Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integrators, universities, large corporations and public administrators to innovate.
With The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine(M2M) as umbrellas, startups in Spain created hundreds of solutions to help cities, manufacturing plants, retail shops, farms, and utilities to succeed with their austerity plans.
Last week I attended GigaOM MOBILIZE, and I had the opportunity to meet a couple of these Spanish IoT startups: Libelium, a technology leader in open source sensor platforms with 50+ applications for Smart City. And Carriots, a M2M application platform that allows you to build intelligent apps in 5 steps, including a very cool beer tap monitoring solution to detect bars serving another beer under the tap brand.
However, the leadership of Spain in IoT in many cases is driven by City Hall administrators who are looking to reduce costs while improving services for their citizens and tourists. Spain ranks in the top three for world leadership in the tourism industry with 58 Million visitors and $80.2 billion direct income in 2012.
One example is the city of Malaga that implemented a 31 million euro Smartcity Málaga pilot project headed by Endesa to reduce energy by 20% and CO2 emissions by 6.000 tonnes per year. This project earned Malaga the title of the smartest city of Spain, followed by Barcelona and Santander.
Barcelona is ahead of the curve for ICT and mobile solutions. Cisco Systems, the company I work for in California, has invested $7M to make Barcelona a global reference model for sustainable urban development with the Smart+Connected Communities platform. Cisco also selected Barcelona to host the IoT World Forum next week bringing together top executives from leading global companies, the public sector and academia to accelerate the advancement of IoT.
The third top smart city in Spain is Santander which increased responsiveness of emergency services by 25% using IoT management systems. With more than 12000 sensors for traffic, temperature, luminosity, CO and noise the Smart Santander Project provides a unique opportunity in the world for a city-scale experimental research facility to validate social acceptance of IoT technologies and services.
Besides startups and public administration, a key stakeholder in Spain helping with the adoption of IoT is Telefonica M2M which provides process automation and business expansion to their customers. A few weeks ago in San Francisco I met Telefonica Labs CEO at his new book presentation about innovation and I was delighted to hear about all the efforts Telefonica is putting into the IoT space including a $2.4 billion contract to provide smart meter technology in UK homes.
Another company in Spain that is providing an end-to-end IoT solution for their corporate customers is Mildmac. I had the opportunity to work for Mildmac before I moved to the US and I’m not surprised that they have already embraced IoT. With 20+ years innovating and integrating systems, Mildmac has the right team and expertise to lead this technology transition with their new product BDFutura, With the acquisition, storage, and analysis of data flowing from sensors/actuators, BDFutura not only provides a multiservice application environment for IoT use cases, but also integrates with VoIPFutura, the open source based IP telephony/radio platform I was leading a few years back.
The growth of IoT in Spain is being incubated by academia in the area of information and computer science such as at the NICS Lab at the University of Malaga, and the University of Cantabria. Also, vast experience in supply chain management and logistics is demonstrated by the world’s largest clothing retailer Zara, and leadership in high speed rail, infrastructures and solar energies by companies such as Abengoa have created a culture of excellence in operations management in Spain.
I’m sure there are many entrepreneurs in Spain today creating IoT startups to continue leading this technology transition and help Spain improve their services while maintaining minimum operation expenses. Ultimately, IoT will not only lead Spain’s economy to a faster recovery, but also use the technology expertise to help other countries improve their processes and logistics.
I look forward to seeing more Spanish IoT startups leading the market!
The opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s opinions and not those of his employer and/or its affiliates.