With an area of 41,60 km2 and around 355,000 inhabitants, Bilbao is located right in the heart of a metropolitan area that extends along the estuary of the Nervión River with a population close to 1 million.
In the last 25 years Bilbao has suffered an important urban transformation from an industrial economy with heavy industry and harbour facilities to a city based on a service economy. This has helped to balance the city and provide a friendly environment for pedestrians with wider pavements; reduction of on-streetcar parking in the city centre; traffic light control system to cater to pedestrians; promenades for walking and cycling. Today, 65% of internal movements are produced on foot.
In the framework of the ITS Plans of the city, Bilbao’s investment has been oriented to promote public transport, user-centric information services (open data policy integrating static and dynamic standardized information), improve safety and reduce traffic congestion (new traffic management systems) and pollution. Exploitation of the city's IT infrastructure has allowed defining and implementing a modular ITS architecture, ready to grow up and admit any new system.
Due to the orography of the city and the growth population living on the hillsides, Bilbao developed an “Accessibility Plan” focused on facilitating access and mobility in these High Districts primarily for elderly and groups with special needs.
Bilbao has been also working on public-private partnerships to solve the complexities of the urban freight delivery.
Recently, Bilbao launched its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) for the horizon 2030 with the objectives of:
- Reducing air and noise pollution
- Improving safety by reducing accidents and fatalities
- Guaranteeing universal accessibility
- Improve energy and transport (passengers and goods) efficiency
- Contribute to improve the attractiveness and environmental quality of the city
In the context of the SUMP, the city has carried out some initiatives like Bilbao 30 to calm the traffic to favour bike mobility, promotion of Electric Vehicles (EVs) with a new e-bike sharing service, grants for acquisition of EVs, replacement of some BilboBus’s fleet for E-buses, implementation of charging points, and so on.
Bilbao is also deploying a public wifi network to be upgraded to LTE communication technology.
Another relevant topic is Zorrotzaurre island project, which is the latest major urban regeneration project to be implemented in Bilbao. The regeneration of Zorrotzaurre represents a balanced and integral project, defined by concepts of sustainability, that recuperates a degraded space and converts it into a new quarter of Bilbao.
The city SUMP prioritizes actions on the 8 defined strategic areas linked to a set of indicators to measure the achievement of the SUMP’s objectives. However, there is not any data-driven decision mechanisms supporting its implementation or monitoring tools. There is a dashboard in place to calculate the indicators, but data feed is done manually and even in many cases. it is difficult to gather the necessary data or of enough quality, particularly when data sources rely on external departments or third parties.
Bilbao open data policy aims to promote the development of user-centric mobility services. The city manages the information related to the transport network they are responsible of but there are other mobility service providers (public and private) in the city that produce data related to other transport modes and their uses. These distributed and non-standardized data approach derives in a misuse of information to really understand the mobility patterns of the city to lead into the best policies and mobility services implementation.
Besides, there are other socio-economic and cultural factors that influence the mobility and technology services choices of the citizens that may not be taken into account in the mobility and urban planning and that require further attention.