The Palma of the long-gone past – which was brilliantly described by Mario Verdaguer – has now disappeared. Today, we see a modern city that looks boldly towards the future.
Palma has adapted to the new technologies and any kind of innovation in order to transform into a ‘smart city’. In other words, Palma has embraced all information and communication technologies in order to equip itself with an infrastructure that guarantees sustainable progression, an increase in quality of life, more public participation, and a higher efficiency of the available resources.
The first step involved the implementation of free WiFi in the area of Playa de Palma, which the company Mallorca WiFi established after winning a public tender. Thus, a public-private initiative was started, aimed at making Palma the city with the most extensive open and complimentary wireless network of Europe.
We spoke with Mauricio Socias, CEO & founder of Mallorca WiFi: “We launched the wireless network successfully in April 2014 and provided a stretch of 5,5 Km with free internet – from Cala Estancia to the Club Náutico in Arenal. In the first year, already 1.5 million people used it to get online.”
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Part of this success is based on the new concept, which they developed for the network. Mauricio explains that “the connection is automatically established, there´s no need for a password, a phone number, or to log in via social media. It´s a so-called open connection – just like at home.”
After this first achievement, the foundation Turismo 365, together with the port authorities and several private companies, set a new public tender with the objective of providing ‘smart WiFi’ (intelligent, wireless network) to all places with a high degree of touristic activities within the Palma community. And once again the assignment went to Mallorca WiFi.
This time, the project was even more demanding, was divided up into four phases, and will take six years. Just like the first assignment, the company is covering all the costs in exchange for the use of advertising services, which means free admission for all citizens.
On the second of August the first phase of the project ‘Smart WiFi Palma’ was officially presented by the mayor of the city. It was announced that not only the first phase was concluded (which means 254 hotspots concentrated on the harbour areas and surroundings), but also that the following phases are already well advanced and only 30% of the selected regions remain without wireless coverage.
“There is always a minimum of three networks to choose from. These provide limited access to the internet and applications like email, Facebook, Whatsapp and Google Maps. If you want unlimited ‘net surfing, you have to download a free app, which changes according to the location and converts the WiFi into ‘smart’ WiFi.
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Apart from the town hall’s network, there is the Mallorca WiFi one, or any of their sponsors. In Palma, one of the main sponsors is the German real estate company Engel & Völkers, which did not hesitate to invest in innovation and create its own network with a newly developed app which offers an even better service to their customers.
“For the user ‘smart WiFi’ is a world of apps which make your life easier and facilitate interaction. In real time, you receive constant information about leisure activities, parking, traffic… For us, this means insight about the location, about where people are, what they do, and if they are visiting Palma for the first time. With this, we can realize behaviour analysis which, in return, gives us control for the management of the service – all data is shared.”
This urban service for free internet not only establishes Palma as a ‘smart’ city, but also makes it an even more attractive destination. “Complimentary WiFi for locals and visitors has a big impact on tourism and allows us to maintain our privileged position as a popular destination in the Mediterranean.”
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