Journal Article

(Smart) Citizens from Data Providers to Decision-Makers? The Case Study of Barcelona

Published 12 September 2018 / By COMPAS Communications

Back to Publications

Against the backdrop of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in the European Union (EU), a debate emerged about the role of citizens and their relationship with data. European city authorities claim that (smart) citizens are as important to a successful smart city program as data and technology are, and that those citizens must be convinced of the benefits and security of such initiatives. This paper examines how the city of Barcelona is marking a transition from the conventional, hegemonic smart city approach to a new paradigm—the experimental city. Through (i) a literature review, (ii) carrying out twenty in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, and (iii) actively participating in three symposiums in Barcelona from September 2017 to March 2018, this paper elucidates how (smart) citizens are increasingly considered decision-makers rather than data providers. This paper considers (i) the implications of the technopolitics of data ownership and, as a result, (ii) the ongoing implementation of the Digital Plan 2017–2020, its three experimental strategies, and the related seven strategic initiatives. This paper concludes that, from the policy perspective, smartness may not be appealing in Barcelona, although the experimental approach has yet to be entirely established as a paradigm.


Calzada, I. (2018), (Smart) Citizens from Data Providers to Decision-Makers? The Case Study of Barcelona. Sustainability 10(9): 3252. DOI: 10.3390/su10093252. Special Issue: Big Data Research for Social Sciences and Social Impact

First Published 12 Sept 2018