Interview with Gema Igual, first vice president of the RECI

DATE February 27, 2023

Interview with Gema Igual, first vice president of the RECI

The Smart City Journal, portal of international news on smart cities, conducted an interview with the first vice president of the RECI and mayor of Santander, Gema Igual.

In the interview, the first vice president shares her vision about the present and, above all, the future of Smart Cities. For the mayor, “the fundamental challenge that smart cities face is to translate this digital transformation into concrete benefits for citizens and to be able to communicate it adequately.”

TSCJ.- How would you define the concept of Smart City? How has the way of planning and developing a smart city evolved since the creation of the RECI? Will there be any changes in the future?

Equal Gem.- What we call Smart City is the way municipal services respond to the growing needs of citizens through the appropriate and effective use of technology, fundamentally ICT.

The creation of the RECI arose from the realization that the problems of cities were common and represented a challenge of such magnitude and complexity that it had to be faced by collaborating, sharing and working together. At the beginning, initiatives were undertaken to explore the possibilities of ICT in various municipal areas because it was new terrain in which the fundamental thing was to learn and try to implement small but significant and limited improvements within each of these areas. As the years have passed, with the knowledge and experiences acquired, more ambitious and transversal projects are being addressed within the municipalities, trying to multiply the positive effect of the actions we are carrying out.

The concept of Smart City is in constant evolution, being linked to emerging technologies and a society that advances at an unprecedented pace. Our strategy must be to be alert to all the possibilities that appear while trying to introduce them in a sensible, orderly manner and avoiding risks, such as those related to the protection of personal data, which are always associated.

TSCJ.- In the current paradigm, what do you think are the biggest challenges that cities face in their digital and sustainable transformation process? What efforts/bets are being carried out by the Santander city council in this regard?

IguaI Gem.- The fundamental challenge is to translate this digital transformation into concrete benefits for citizens and to be able to communicate it adequately. There is no point in improving a municipal service if it does not mean that a person can carry out a procedure more comfortably or is informed in a timely manner, for example, that a mobility infrastructure is going to be down for maintenance for a few hours in a certain day

The specific challenges are outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN and each city must identify and meet those that are most applicable to it. At Santander we are developing initiatives for employment, care for the elderly, environment (circularity), to name just a few. All of them are developed both in the field of close actions with an impact on people and in the development of innovative actions that we hope will be capitalized in the future.

We also have two key projects underway. The first corresponds to the Santander Smart City Platform, whose function is to collect and concentrate detailed information on municipal services and other aspects of the city's functioning so that it is a kind of central brain that allows us to carry out coordinated actions and, above all, , with objective data. The second corresponds to the SmartCitizen initiative (, co-financed with FEDER funds through RED.ES and which brings together a set of elements such as a citizen card, a city application, a citizen service, among others, whose purpose is to bring the City Council closer to people with the aim of giving them a better city experience and for them to become the center of municipal action.

TSCJ.- As first vice president of the RECI, what do you think is the main benefit that the network offers our citizens?

Equal Gem.- The RECI is the reference point for all cities that want and work to offer the best services to their citizens. Sharing knowledge and experience and working in a collaborative way helps us all to advance harmoniously and firmly in our objectives for the citizen.

The RECI was, and continues to be, a pioneer in solving the challenges that we face on a daily basis intelligently and in keeping with the times, but also brave and responsible in developing strategies to be better positioned to face future challenges.

TSCJ.- Can you tell us about RECI's new brand identity and website? Because right now? What is it focused on?

Equal Gem.- With the tenth anniversary of the RECI in 2022, there has been a perfect opportunity to update the brand identity and align it more with the Digital Spain 2025 strategy. That is why the focus has been on colors. blues and greens, evoking the digital and sustainable transformation that the country is heading towards. The new logo and brand identity has been defined in such a way that it is reminiscent of a skyline of our cities, which are what make it possible for us to continue celebrating our anniversary as a network and adding successes and new members every year.

Refering to Web (Smart Cities Network - RECI - SmartCities), we have opted to give greater visibility to good practices in general, and specifically to those that were selected in the II edition of the RECI National Congress of Smart Cities.

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