NEWS - 2021/07/21

Bilbao and Barcelona Reward Innovative Ideas that Will Tansform Future Urban Mobility

During the past six days, the cities of Bilbao and Barcelona hosted simultaneously the second edition of Citython 2021, which took place from 16 to 21 July. During this urban mobility hackathon, small groups of experts and students in urban planning, engineering, data science, and business creation competed against each other to provide innovative solutions to the challenges faced by both cities related to traffic calming, improving logistics, and distribution of goods, and more sustainable and safer mobility.

Organized by CARNET (coordinated by CIT UPC) in collaboration with the Bilbao City Council, the Barcelona City Council, and TECNALIA Research & Innovation, the event is funded by the EIT Urban Mobility, an European initiative that brings together cities, universities, research centres and industry to work jointly in order to make cities more liveable, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Due to Covid restrictions, Citython Bilbao and Barcelona was held exclusively online, with 63 participants matched-up in 16 teams working together and coordinating with mentors in a virtual environment to solve the challenges proposed by the cities of Bilbao and Barcelona.

During the official presentation of the event on 8 July, Nelida Santos, Mobility and Sustainability Area of the City of Bilbao, said, “After setting the speed limit at 30 km/h, the average speed in the city has dropped, but we know that respecting this limit has certain difficulties for some drivers and that is where the traffic calming challenge arrives. Bilbao needs to promote more respectful and inclusive mobility and face the dilemma on how to get cars to respect this limit”.

She added that “with our measure of having a city-wide 30 km/h, limit we have noticed that some people have the feeling of living on a street instead of living close to a highway, and also that the value of the stores has increased”.

When presenting the second challenge of the City of Bilbao regarding the development of sustainable urban logistics, Urrotz Larrañaga, Intelligent Transport System Engineer of the City of Bilbao, said that “we all know the growth that e-commerce has had in recent years and even more with the mobility restrictions caused by Covid. So today it’s easier than ever to buy almost anything with a simple click. The bill of all these new behaviors can be seen in our streets. Some studies have pointed out that last year deliveries have increased in about 400%. This means much more traffic and saturation of our streets and the consequent dangerous air and noise pollution”.

In Barcelona, the challenge proposed was related to the commitment with a safe, sustainable and healthy mobility, on foot and by bicycle. Melisa Pesoa, Researcher and lecturer at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech (UPC), said that “During the last century mobility was planned according to a criteria of efficiency of speed and productivity, but in the last decades things started to change and we currently care more about how do we share the space and how do we live in the streets”.

During the hackathon days, the multidisciplinary teams were offered inspirational talks and all of them had the opportunity to receive mentorship and feedback on their work from experts in urban mobility and data science.

They had time to work on their best solutions until 20 July, and the final candidates submitted their ideas on 21 July in front of a judging panel of experts and academics composed of Matteo Consonni, Business Creation Manager at EIT Urban Mobility, Urrotz Larrañaga, Intelligent Transport System Engineer – Mobility and Sustainability, City of Bilbao, Eugeni Rico, Senior Mobility Engineer in the Strategy of Mobility Department of the Barcelona City Council, Dr. Laia Pagès, Executive and Scientific Manager at CARNET, and Jesús de la Quintana, Head of Emerging Initiatives Urban Solutions at Tecnalia.

Along with 1,500 € in awards the winners will also get the opportunity to present their solutions during the Smart City Expo World Congress 2021 to be held in Barcelona in November.

The winning teams for the proposed challenges are:

Winning team – Challenge 1

Team 30s, No hurry! (Juan Pablo, Maria Paula, Harlam Silva)

Solution: Bilbao is a pioneer in pacifying the city with the full 30kph limit implementation, however is a tough task if the citizens don’t take ownership of it. So, what if we propose to engage all of our citizens into a game towards a 0 overspeed day.

  • Using educational radars to register the overspeeding per zip code of the driver and sharing results LIVE with a public counter
  • At the end of the game period, city council will invest the money from the fines in the winner zip code area, by improving the neighborhood.
  • Using a specifically created app to help our citizens monitor their own speed, emissions, decibels not for punishment but for self-awareness, where they can also consult progress of the game and report road incidences What’s in it for everyone?

The main innovation of this project is: the transformation of Bilbao in the biggest real time game, with healthy competition between citizens. Citizens will own the challenge and will become traffic and road information sources.


Winning team – Challenge 2

Team Lasai-Lasai (Gorka Pradas & Maria Savall)

Solution: To reduce the adverse effects of the way that the last mile is nowadays carried out, in this project the group «Lasai-lasai» propose a new sustainable model for goods distribution for the city of Bilbao. This model is made up of infrastructural solutions, the regulation that will support the performance of the infrastructural solution to help them work in the long run, and the active involvement of the stakeholders that take part in the last-mile distribution.

The main innovation of this project is achieving a drastic reduction in pollution, greenhouse emissions, congestion, noise, and traffic accidents.

  • With this solution, we are not only succeeding the European objectives of environmental sustainability, but we are also giving more public space to the citizens of Bilbao.
  • With this new model, we are not only addressing the current problem of online purchases, but we are also designing a solution for the long term. We are performing a solution that will help us for years to come with the increasing distribution of Internet orders and raising awareness about the impact of receiving the package at home.


Winning team – Challenge 3

Team 3 Nest (Gerard Alemany, Eugeni Llagostera and Fran Ginot)

Solution: «3 Nest group» has created a web application using the Flask framework. The solution is twofold. First of all, the group has extended the dataset provided by the hackathon organizers with other publicly available data and has processed it. Using this modified dataset and loaded it into the Flask application in order to be able to interact with the data using Python and Folium and get insights more easily. Furthermore, the group has computed a danger metric and has named it danger_index. The goal of the index is to give a reasonable measure of the danger that a segment of a bike lane represents. The index is computed from a simple model which represents the intensity of traffic in Barcelona. The intensity of traffic is modeled as a linear combination of two gaussian centered in the morning and afternoon rush hours. «3 Nest group» has chosen expectations, variances, and weights with private data and considering more fine-tuning of the parameters after this presentation.

The main innovation in this project is the use of a purely data-driven approach with state-of-the-art geospatial analysis libraries creating a unique algorithm to analyse real data and gather conclusions.

There is one more hackathon to come in Autumn: the Hamburg (Germany) and Lublin (Poland) edition. The ambition for the last 2021 Citython is to create the most innovative and creative mobility solutions to accelerate the transformation on European cities.

More information about the project and upcoming editions: