Key Insights

Spanish City Goes Green and Cuts Costs Through Cloud-based Smart City Initiatives

Microsoft

The City of Gandía was looking for ways to increase quality of life for its citizens. Partnering with Wellness Telecom, the city deployed IoT-connected light posts through Microsoft Azure. The resulting system allows for improved control, lower energy costs, better citywide lighting, and a 2,723-ton reduction in annual carbon emissions.

This is a singular opportunity... we’ve been given access to state-of-the-art technology, resulting in a 54.39 percent reduction in our spending on street lighting and public buildings in Gandía.

- Miguel Ángel Picornell Canut: Second Deputy Mayor, City of Gandía

Along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, you will find the bustling community and charming beaches of Gandía. With a population that crests 200,000 during the summer months, Gandía is a popular tourist destination with a long history. Recently, Gandía added to that history with its recognition by the Spanish government as a City of Science and Innovation.

In the interest of enhancing government services and improving the quality of life for its current and future citizens, City of Gandía leadership recently took up a new energy efficiency and sustainability initiative. “A city has no future if it isn't thinking about the needs of future generations,” says Diana Morant Ripoll, Mayor of Gandía. The most glaring sustainability issue in the city was its energy-consuming network of streetlights.

Achieving better lighting through IoT devices

To adopt a more efficient solution, the City of Gandía reached out to energy efficiency services company ALISEA and the IoT experts at Wellness Telecom, a Microsoft partner that specializes in solutions for smart cities. The solution that they came up with was ambitious in scale—Wellness Telecom would install 13,152 new LED light poles, each outfitted with IoT devices that allowed them to be managed remotely via Microsoft Azure.

The Wellness Telecom team sees a scalable, secure cloud platform as imperative to the solution’s success. “We are glad to have the reliability we need to handle each of the smart cities projects we are involved in,” says Carlos Velo, Commercial Director at Wellness Telecom. “With Azure, we know that wherever we go, we can mount a cloud-based infrastructure with extensive backup and support features capable of solving any problems that arise.”

Lowering costs and environmental impact

With the system in place in Gandía, the benefits of connected streetlights go beyond the convenience of remote activation. The city’s new IoT devices can report energy consumption deviations, their on/off status, and whether their bulbs are malfunctioning. By monitoring these functions via dashboards populated with real-time citywide data and combining the use of the new lights with cloud-hosted information like daily sunrise and sunset times, local government can optimize the hours during which the grid is powered on.

The City of Gandía can better control its electrical consumption by turning off lights that are malfunctioning or consuming too much power until maintenance crews have repaired damaged components. The cloud-based platform also offers digital troubleshooting options capable of rectifying some errors without the need for onsite repair crews at all.

By implementing these changes, the City of Gandía reduced the annual energy consumption of its light posts by 66 percent, resulting in a net savings of 20 percent on their electrical bill, an annual savings of €400,000 (USD450,000). Over the next 15 years, the savings from the introduction of LED bulbs and the smart controllers that operate them will total USD9.6 million. “This is a singular opportunity,” says Miguel Ángel Picornell Canut, Second Deputy Mayor of the City of Gandía. “Since the beginning of the process, we’ve been given access to state-of-the-art technology, resulting in a 54.39 percent reduction in our spending on street lighting and public buildings in Gandía. I recommend it for any city looking to improve finances or energy consumption.”

“It’s a win for everybody,” says Morant. “The local authority wins because we are better managing the tax money our residents pay us to operate their amenities, and the city as a whole wins because we live in a healthier, more environmentally responsible place.” ALISEA reports an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 2,723 tons per year, which equates to the planting of 453,800 new trees.

Looking ahead to a more connected tomorrow

The installation of Azure-connected lighting is just the beginning when it comes to enhancing government services via smart city transformations. Because of this initial investment in IoT hardware and software, the City of Gandía has opened the door to further innovations. “Today, we have an unprecedented level of real-time data at our town hall,” says Vicent Sarrió, Head of Basic Services and Environment for the City of Gandía. “The management and control system that ALISEA established is the first step among many that the city council will likely take in the coming years. Apart from the energy savings, we now have areas in the city that are better lit than before.”

Water supply and trash collection are among the many services that smart cities can optimize, to the mutual benefit of the public and private sectors, as well as the environment. And as Gandía continues to cement its status as one of Spain’s leading Cities of Science and Innovation, city leadership and its partners will continue to explore moving its public services to the cloud. “For us,” says Velo, “Azure is a guarantee of success.”

Find out more about the City of Gandía on Twitter and Facebook.