May 18th 2024 | 7:59

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Bilbao surpasses Madrid and Barcelona in the Smart City Index 2024

Jesus Carames

April 16, 2024 | 11:30 a.m.

El Smart City Index 2024 reveals interesting dynamics in the Spanish urban context, reflecting how different cities adapt and respond to the demands of a population increasingly focused on sustainability, technology and quality of life. Here is the analysis of the position of Spanish cities in the index:


Actual position: 29th (Decrease of two positions compared to the previous year)

  • Positive aspects: Cultural activities and green spaces are Bilbao's strong points, standing out in these areas above many other global cities. This reflects a continued commitment to vibrant cultural life and the preservation and development of accessible green spaces for its citizens.
  • Negative Aspects: The primary concern for residents remains accessibility to affordable rental housing, a growing challenge in many cities experiencing significant economic and demographic growth.


Actual position: 35th (Improvement from 37th place)

  • Positive aspects: Madrid shows notable improvement in areas such as cultural activities and digital infrastructure (exemplified by online ticket purchasing and internet reliability). These areas are essential for a city that is postulated as a cultural and technological center in Spain and Europe.
  • Negative Aspects: Traffic congestion remains an Achilles heel for Madrid, underscoring the need for more effective traffic management policies and public transport infrastructure development.


Actual position: 57th (Relegation of three places)

  • Positive aspects: Similar to Madrid, Zaragoza is appreciated for the ease of access to culture and green spaces, as well as the speed and reliability of its internet connection, indicating a strong focus on modernization and digitalization.
  • Negative Aspects: As in Bilbao, the difficulty in finding affordable housing worries Zaragoza residents, which can negatively affect the perception of the city and its future development.


Actual position: 81st (Demotion from 75th place)

  • Positive aspects: Barcelona stands out in online ticket purchasing, cultural activities and job search services, suggesting an effective integration of digital technologies in everyday services and in the promotion of its rich cultural offer.
  • Negative Aspects: Affordable rental housing is Barcelona's biggest weakness, reflecting a housing crisis that needs urgent attention to prevent further deterioration in the quality of life of its residents.

Implications and Future

Spanish cities present a mixed picture in the Smart City Index 2024. While all struggle with the common problem of affordable housing, each has its unique strengths that need to be supported and expanded. Madrid and Zaragoza, with their focus on digitalization and culture, together with Bilbao and Barcelona, ​​which stand out in green spaces and cultural activities, show the way towards smarter and more sustainable urbanization.

To maintain and improve their positions on the index, these cities will need to proactively address housing concerns while boosting their technological and cultural infrastructures. The balance between growth and sustainability will be key to defining its success in future editions of the Smart City Index.

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