It is now clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the urban configuration of cities. In this regard, Santander is no exception.
We have some advantages, due to our positioning as an increasingly modern and sustainable city that is strengthened socially with urban environments centered around people. This promotes the use of alternative means of transport to the private vehicle, which are more efficient, thus protecting the environment and reducing energy usage.
Nonetheless, we are aware that now is the time to accelerate this process to achieve sustainability by improving the urban space and facilitating the access to greener and more active means of transport, such as walking or biking.
We have spent years working on installing escalators in pedestrian paths, with 13 that cross from south to north and allow walking comfortably around the city, and we are currently developing new bikable paths.
We have adopted the 30 kmph limit to facilitate bike mobility and safety within the city and we have also widened the bike lanes. And for people that are unable to use a bike, we have improved public transport, introducing new deterrent parking spaces and promoting the city bus with free itineraries.
The trend we are following in the city is to create larger and greener public spaces, as well as redesigning the structures of buildings to introduce the concept of sustainable and healthy homes; by creating more vertical gardens and using roofs as recreational facilities.
At the same time, urban infrastructures must be strengthened to make them more resilient, preparing them for emergencies, epidemics, and natural disasters, as well as for current requirements of space due to social distance and security rules.
Another key element for safety is technology. Santander keeps improving as a smart city. The city has spent almost a decade investing in smart technologies as a way to grow and develop. Nowadays, Santander is a colossal urban IoT laboratory.
Now we have gone even further, due to our focus in citizens with the Smart Citizen Project, which we are now introducing in Santander. The aim is to answer each individual’s needs through personalized information from the city services to recreational activities.
Therefore, urban espace, mobility and technology will mark the future of cities in the short and medium term and Santander is already taking remarkable steps on these issues.
All of this without forgetting the commitment we must keep alive to make our cities the driving force for the sustainable development of the entire planet by promoting 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Gema Igual Ortiz