More than eight thousand locations across the Spanish city of Barcelona are to be equipped with NFC and QR touchpoints that deliver information on local services directly to visitors’ and citizens’ smartphones.
The Barcelona Contactless project is one of 32 that make up Barcelona Smart City, an initiative put in place to improve the city’s services via a wide variety of technologies. The NFC and QR platform will be powered by France-based NFC specialist Connecthings and follows the installation of 1,000 touchpoints in the city for Mobile World Congress 2013.
“It’s a giant project that will equip the whole city with NFC everywhere,” Louis-Alban Batard-Dupre, Spanish director at Connecthings, explained to NFC World+. “Barcelona launched a huge initiative in the city called Barcelona Smart City and that represents a certain amount of projects and Barcelona Contactless is one of them.
“Barcelona Contactless, with the Barcelona Smart City umbrella, is a way to show that the city is making an effort and it’s a way to promote NFC technology. We’re working with around sixteen different actors in the city which are private and public. It’s based on a web app so it’s accessible to any type of mobile, either through tapping the NFC tag or scanning a QR code.
“We’re going to equip with the City hall bus network, bus stops, the entrance and exits of the metro with these NFC touchpoints. We’re also going to equip parking meters so that citizens can tap to download a payment application to be able to pay for their parking. We’ve already equipped bike stations. It’s also going to be equipped in hotels, hostels, tourist offices, tourist attractions and the cool thing is is that each of these points are connected.
“So, for example, when you’re in a pharmacy you can tap the NFC touchpoint and see information about the pharmacy and open pharmacies around if closed but also transport information. The idea is to make the city as digital-friendly as possible for citizens.”
“Barcelona is famous for being the mobile world capital but it wants to also become the NFC world capital and this project is the first phase,” Batard-Dupre continued.
“NFC is so simple, so magical; once you’ve tried it, you don’t want to go back to QR codes for example. But if the city doesn’t push it, then you have no services available with NFC. You’ve got NFC on your phone, but you don’t know you have it because there’s no services available. So, this is a great way to educate people and it’s a very useful, very practical service and it doesn’t involve security worries.
“When we’re talking about payment, a lot of people are reluctant because of security. So, we’re looking at this as a way to popularise NFC, to make it massive, and then we can start pushing other services like NFC payment and ticketing. That will come, but it will take more time because it’s an entire ecosystem. You have to implement the payment terminals and so on but this is the first step and a way to promote it.”