Gijón “On all occasions”

Gijón-Aerial view of the urban center
San Lorenzo beach and downtown district (image provided by the City of Gijón)

The city of Gijón is located in Northern Spain. With 271.780 inhabitants, it is the most populated and industrial city of Principality of Asturias region.

The municipal territory covers a surface of 182,3 square km and is located in the central area of the region coastline; the maximum height above sea level is 672 m. The urban area of the city spreads over 27 square km and concentrates 93% of the total inhabitants, yielding in a very high density. The remaining territory includes areas of great environmental value and some groves and individual trees identified and protected as natural monuments.

Gijón- Old oaks in Carbayera del Tragamón
Old oaks in Carbayera del Tragamón (image provided by the City of Gijón)

During the 1960s and 1970s the city had rapid growth due to the development of the steel and shipbuilding industries and coal mining. The port activity is still one of the foremost economic drivers of the city. From the 1980s onwards Gijón has experienced a deep industrial regeneration, driving the development of other economic sectors in the city: ICT, services, tourism, cultural and creative sector, circular economy, etc. The last economic crisis started in 2008 has had a deep impact on the local labor market; despite the improvement experienced since 2014, we are still dealing with high unemployment rates. To tackle this, Gijón City Council has developed several programs targeted to young people, seniors and groups at risk of exclusion that were recognised at European Level, like the Youth Activation Agency.

Our city has received the Biosphere Destination Certification by the Responsible Tourism Institute, recognising its efficient touristic management through sustainable tourism and tourist excellence. Gijón also counts with an important cultural offer: archaeological areas and different museums, monuments and exhibition halls, in combination with an excellence gastronomy and a large number of events around the year (Gijón International Film Festival, European Fair of Scenic Arts, International Fair of Samples, and so on).

The City has wagered since 1990s for the development of Innovation and Knowledge. With this aim, Gijón City Council created the ‘Knowledge Mile’, a geographic space that accommodates several enterprises and public institutions based on knowledge, in order to leverage the potential of this environment where technology and science live together with arts and culture. This innovation ecosystem has transformed the area in a new economic growth engine for the city, exploiting the synergies generated by these factors and resources.

Gijón has a long track record in the management and implementation of strategies and projects for the transformation and modernization of our city. Our vision is based on this fundamental idea: the implantation of intelligent technologies and systems is the only way to maintain and improve the quality of life of our population. The future of cities can only be smart, if we want it to be a successful future.

Gijón - Solar panels in Knowledge Mile
Solar panels in Knowledge Mile (image provided by the City of Gijón)

We are currently executing our ‘Gijón Green and Digital’ strategy, which has the necessary financing and will be applied in this phase until 2028. It includes the municipal and city digital transformation, integrating open data, internet of things, big data, and AI; the development of new professional profiles for public officials and citizens; energy transition measures and promotion of the use of renewable energy; creation of smart grids, and sustainable mobility measures. Complementary, we have started the public procurement of an intelligent system for the supply and management of electric and thermal energy, both for street lighting and municipal facilities, through the deployment of a neutral, open and interoperable IoT grid, which will allow innovation in public services for a green and digital development of the city. This great contract will be valid for 15 years, with a time horizon until 2036, and its estimated value exceeds 200 million euros.

Gijón also counts with a European Strategy that contributes to develop the international profile of the city. Specifically, our city is an active member of EUROCITIES since 2002, participating in several forums such as the Economic Development Forum and the Knowledge Society Forum, among others, and currently Gijón is mentor of a Lab promoted by EUROCITIES about the topic of Citizen Cards. Besides this, URBACT has awarded Gijón Citizen Card as a European Good Practice and currently we are leading a transfer network called CARD4ALL. We are also members of Atlantic Cities, the European Innovation Partnerships about Smart Cities and Communities, and the uCIFI Alliance.

Conecta Gijón installation - Pablo Vázquez de Castro Ontañón
Conecta Gijón installation (image provided by the City of Gijón)

We believe that our accumulated experience can serve as a guide to other cities that are undertaking similar initiatives. At the same time, we hope that we can also benefit from the successful experiences of other cities and the exchange of knowledge on these subjects.

Marina in the city center - Pablo Vázquez de Castro Ontañón
Marina in the city center (image provided by the City of Gijón)