Electronic Democracy Transforms an Old Spanish City

Luis Muñoz, an IT professor at the University of Cantabria, initiated a project to turn the sleepy port city of Santander into a prototype for “smart cities” across Europe. With an $11 million grant from the European Commission to fund his idea, Santander now has 12,000 electronic sensors across the city, apps on citizens smart phones — and life is being transformed.

Need a parking spot? The street sign on the corner will tell you where the nearest one is available. Need a pothole or a broken street light fixed in front of your house? Take a picture and enter a request from an app on your smartphone, and the city will schedule a repair — and you and others on your block can track their progress. Have an idea for improving city services? Enter it on that same ap, and get visibility with both city officials and your fellow citizens.

Bottom line: lower costs, better services, more citizen participation, and a democracy learning laboratory for other cities.

Complete story at NPR News.

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