City Challenges
Smart urbanism

Identifying issue areas in Santander

Collecting Santander citizen’s impressions about their life in the city and detect the main issues they daily find, we have used four different tools: focus groups, social media, the Pace of the City app and Santander City Brain.

  • Focus groups

They consist of meetings with small groups of citizens, in this case, two meetings with representatives of neighbourhood’s associations, where they have been asked about their daily lives and issues. You can read more about how these sessions were developed in this post.

The main issues mentioned during the discussions were:

  • Bus service: long transportation times, low frequency, seasonal issues (mainly in summer)…
  • Parking in the downtown: difficulties to find parking spaces, regulated parking, car parks, the relation between the parking problems with the commerce in the downtown…
  • Communication with the administration: encourage remote interaction, citizen’s participation…
  • Security: insecure areas
  • Accessibility: Hills and narrow sidewalks are issues the citizens have to face daily.
  • Others: Dirty, floods, street lighting or lack of relationship between neighbours are other issues mentioned.

Also, some proposals were made by the participants:

  • Transportation: Information about car parks characteristics (height), app informing about when will my taxi arrive…
  • Communication with the administration: Remote public administration, a tool to translate the opinion of the citizens to the administration
  • Cleaning: Public bins/ recycling containers that notify when they are full so that the citizen can check if they are available.
  • Security: Tool to notify about possible dangerous situations areas (black points), remote interaction with the police…
  • Others: Tool for reservation of public spaces, training courses about the use of the smartphone…
  • Social media

In order to reach a wide range of citizens, an Instagram contest was carried out with a strong promotional campaign that produced more than 150 contributions. In this contest, citizens were invited to provide their point of view about the city, by uploading a picture and adding a short comment about the best places of the city or places that should be improved.


The analysis of the contributions provided interesting results. The main outcomes are:

  • Recovering old spaces: Participants are proud of the old spaces that have been recovered for the citizens, like the recently restored “Gamazo” bay area, and old buildings restored for cultural activities. They have also suggest abandoned buildings to be restored or converted in green areas. This helps the city maintaining its identity and traditions.
  • Mobility: As in the focus groups, this is one of the main topics citizens have talked about. Although current high-performance levels are recognized, improvements in the bus and train services are requested.
  • Environment: Santander citizens give value to the natural environment of the city and its green areas. Walking paths, bike lanes, parks, and restored close to the bay spaces are the most appreciated places in the city.
  • Neighborhoods improvement: public furniture that needs to be repaired, cleaning required, or improvement in the accessibility to the highest areas of the city are also topics that have arisen.

All the contributions to this Instagram contest are available on Instagram under the hashtag #OrganiCitySantander

  • Pace of the City

The events reported by using this App, free access for Santander citizens, have also been analysed. Citizens can report events by using this app installed on their smartphone. Events are incidences related to public services of the city that need to be solved. Events include pictures and text describing the detected incidence.

More than 250 events were reported since the starting of the project (January 2015). The following graph shows their distribution among different themes.


  • Santander City Brain

Santander City Brain is an online open, transparent and free ideas platform established by Santander City Council. It is intended for Santander citizens and visitors to share ideas and projects and comment and vote on other users’ contributions in order to collaborate in the development of Santander as a Smart City. Basically, it is a space open for – and only for – innovation and also a means of support for entrepreneurs and researchers with good ideas. It has currently 1,978 registered users, 275 of whom have participated contributing with ideas.

From the point of view the interest aroused, a classification of ideas by the number of positive votes received can be the most appropriate one. From this perspective, the main results are:

  • Mobility: New facilities or reconditioning the old ones, easing the relationship with city council tow or parking price managing depending on demand are several successful ideas.
  • Environment: Stopping the waste of advertising paper in buildings or improving citizens and visitors experience in beaches and in the coast.
  • Emergency and security: Online App for lost items management.


t_footer(); ?>