• Minister Jordi Puigneró and port president Mercè Conesa today presented the SmartCatalonia Challenge 2019, which will focus on seeking innovative solutions based on advanced digital technologies with the aim of improving operations at the Port of Barcelona
Minister Jordi Puigneró and port president Mercè Conesa today presented the SmartCatalonia Challenge 2019, which will focus on seeking innovative solutions based on advanced digital technologies with the aim of improving operations at the Port of Barcelona
For the first time, the focus of the SmartCatalonia Challenge, an open innovation competition promoted by the Catalan government, will shift from municipalities and smart cities to an infrastructure that is key to Catalonia’s economic development: the Port of Barcelona. The aim is to contribute to the port’s digital transformation and improve management and operations by applying advanced digital technologies.
The Port of Barcelona achieved a record level of activity in 2018. It is the fastest-growing port in western Europe and the main logistics hub in the Mediterranean. In short, it is a leading logistics and transport infrastructure at the international level.
The Minister for Digital Policy and Public Administration, Jordi Puigneró, said: “Today we’re taking a leap forward. Up until now, we’ve helped create smart strategies for local councils in Catalonia to address local challenges. Today, we’re helping push forward the smart strategy of an infrastructure that’s key to Catalonia’s economic development. In the digital revolution that Catalonia wants to lead, municipalities have a central role to play, and the Port of Barcelona is central to the Catalonia’s economic and strategic development.”
The president of the Port of Barcelona, Mercè Conesa, said: “For the Port of Barcelona, innovation and digital transformation are tools to make progress on sustainability and increase the economic, social and environmental value we provide to the economy and to society. To be truly effective, innovation must be open, collaborative and demand-driven, with a strong technological base.”
The focus on the “smartport” concept in the latest edition of the SmartCatalonia Challenge reflects the desire of the Ministry for Digital Policy and Public Administration, the promoter of the initiative, to fully align the project with the five lines of priority political action at the heart of the Catalan government’s digital agenda for building a benchmark digital nation – a cohesive territory with digital infrastructure and smart cities.  
In line with this goal, this year’s edition of the competition is aimed at fostering the creation of innovative technological solutions that address challenges in various areas of port activity. Today, technologies such as big data, automation, the internet of things, smart drones and artificial intelligence can generate profound changes and improvements. Such tools can be used to automate processes, connect actors in the logistics chain, and streamline transactions and paperwork, strengthening reliability and traceability.
The Port of Barcelona is currently undergoing a digital transformation to increase its efficiency and ensure that its growth is sustainable. To push forward with digitalisation in the port environment and throughout the logistics chain, the Catalan facility has created a digital port unit. Fifty-four priority actions have been defined and are at various stages of implementation. Over the next four years, the Port of Barcelona will also invest €10 million to roll out a new telecommunications network in order to exploit the full potential of 5G technology and the internet of things.
The partnership between the Catalan government and the Port of Barcelona to promote the digital transformation of an infrastructure that is key to Catalonia’s economic development through the application of innovative solutions based on advanced digital technologies is further proof that Catalonia is ready to lead the digital revolution of the 21st century.
How the competition works and the challenges to be tackled
The presentation today marks the start of the competition phase of the fourth edition of the SmartCatalonia Challenge. In this stage, participating SMEs and technology start-ups will design and propose mobile applications and solutions based on advanced technologies, such as big data and the internet of things, with the aim of optimising various operations and actions carried out at the Port of Barcelona. The focus will be on six broad areas: 
  • Real-time monitoring of occupancy. The two goals are to improve truck management and traffic based on a solution that allows for interaction with users/customers, and to have access to more reliable estimates of the public space occupied by companies by analysing and storing images obtained from multiple cameras installed in the port area. 
  • Mobility of cruise and ferry passengers. The aim in this case is to better understand how pedestrians move through the port and optimise management of public space. This will be done by developing a technological system that provides information on how pedestrians move from the port to the city in real time and based on historical models. 
  • Use and applications of the port’s 3D map. The objective is to take full advantage of the Port of Barcelona’s 3D data, automatically fed in from 3D maps of the port, and look at how this data can be used, for example in environmental modelling and in relation to movement of quays and breakwaters. 
  • Bathymetry and inspection of quays using an aquatic drone. The goal is to optimise inspection of quays and depth measurement using an autonomous device that can inspect an area, take measurements, and capture high-resolution images for subsequent processing. 
  • Automatic measurement of volumes and weights. The aim in this area is to automate measurement of the volume and weight of containers and tanks, and to determine the volume of solid waste that ships transfer by obtaining automated, reliable readings of volumes collected, which will be made available to the port information system. 
  • Network of marine pollution sensors. The objective in this case is to create a network of sensors at specific locations that can generate automatic alerts, combined with remote verification systems (drones, cameras, etc.), with the aim of improving pollution management in the Port of Barcelona.
Proposals may be submitted via the competition website until 7 June 2019. A jury of specialists will select the ten best proposals to compete in the final stage in late June. The three winning proposals will receive cash prizes totalling €10,000 and have the opportunity to pilot test their solutions at the port.
The winning projects will be showcased at the International Logistics and Material Handling Exhibition (SIL), which will run from 26 to 28 June at Fira de Barcelona. The teams responsible will also be invited to present their solutions at the Catalan government’s stand at the Smart City Expo World Congress, which will be held from 19 to 21 November at Fira de Barcelona–Gran Via.



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