Despite the lingering economic crisis in Spain, Barcelona – a relatively small city with an urban population of 1.6 million – seems to be prospering in its golden age that arrived in the 1990s. Barcelona is currently #11 on the list of most visited cities in the world. It’s considered among the top 10 places in the world to do business, sits 11th for global scientific production, is the 4th European city for hosting congresses and conferences, regarded as the main cruise port in Europe and the 4th worldwide, and holds 1st place in Europe for shopping tourism. All of these rankings are wonderful, and we are very proud of them, but we need more than these fleeting accolades to get where we’re going. To reach our vision for 2020, we need to see Barcelona at the top of the rankings for data science and big data innovation.
In February, Barcelona was selected as the #1 Global Smartcity. In light of this, we must invest and support the growth of data science in all industries in order to maintain our leadership position. For example, as the 1st European city for shopping tourism we not only need data scientists’ support to grasp the flow of people coming into the city, but also how to manage the influx in way that keeps the locals happy. Big companies such as Inditex, Edreams and even city transports (TMB) understand the value of this data, and partnering with more agile and small companies like Counterest will help to shed light on this information, making Barcelona a smarter city.
Barcelona has always been a city of inspiration for artists like Dali, Gaudi and Picasso. But inspiration alone is nothing more than just that: a starting point. What makes something big is inspiration mixed with creativity. With the help of a visual understanding, we are able to make smarter decisions and feed on the creativity that flourishes through the city. For proof, just look at the work of the famous ex-El Bulli Chef, Ferran Adrià and a unique studio called Bestiario. Step by step, these types of projects are making our city the beacon of creativity and thought leadership.
Like all cities in Spain, Barcelona was undoubtedly affected by the crisis. Youth unemployment skyrocketed and in turn the confidence of an entire generation was hurt. However, thanks to incubators and accelerators like Incubio, Conector and Wayra from Telefonica, valuable talent was able to the challenge the crisis with unique solutions. We can count more than 120 companies that have been generated within these three entities just in the last year. A common denominator of several of these companies are those dealing with data, including gaming. A great example of the latter being SocialPoint, which now has over 50 million active players each month. Founded in 2008, SocialPoint has 230 employees and closed a revenue of €100M in 2014. This indicates that not only is gaming keeping the youth working in the city, but also attracting specialized talent as well. All in all, we can conclude that data is making the city more attractive to valuable talent.
The amount of data that the city produces is outrageous. Discover how to make this data production profitable, and we will have found our Holy Grail. Meanwhile the benefits of Open Government Data are huge, and not just because it will help with transparency, democracy and build trust with its citizens; but also to make better decisions, be more effective, and reduce costs for citizens. To this point, data is making the city more open .
The idea behind DataBeersBCN is to become the beacon of discussion and experiences within the emerging world of data in Barcelona. The boom of big data is not only an extensive continuation of a classic field of data analysis, but also a vast world for new opportunities. At this event, data experiences of multidisciplinary profiles will be presented including machine learning, data visualization, data journalism, data analysis, as well as an informal exchange to further spread the stories and knowledge of this field.
The group meets every 6 weeks and features dynamic presentations, networking, and of course a few beers. Our upcoming meeting will be May 20th at 19:00 at the Mobile World Center Carrer Fontanelles 2 (Plaça Catalunya – Portal de L’angel).
Our invited data-speakers for May:
- Julien Femia, Game Data Scientist from SocialPoint “Using Data to make great and successful mobile games”
- Concha Catalan, Data Journalist and Co-Founder of OpenGov.cat – “Making public data public”
- Caterina Font, Co-Founder of Counterest, “Why we count People in the Barcelona Public Transports?”
- Alberto González, Data Scientist from Bestiario, “Analog data visualization in the digital age”
Also at this time we want to make a focus point on the Accelerator /startups related to #BigData #DataScience. Both @WayraES and @Incubio will be at the Space showing their Startups.
This was a guest article created by Santi Seguí and Eloi Puertas, professors at the University of Barcelona, both working in the fields of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Computer Vision.