A new way of working boosts productivity in the City of Barcelona

In this case study, you can read about how Barcelona, a city with a reputation of being a premiere location for business conferences, has developed a “new way of working” for its citizens and tourists through cloud computing.


The city of Barcelona in Spain serves more than 1.6 million inhabitants and draws about 6.5 million visitors each year. Many citizens work remotely outside of the office, and because of the city’s reputation for IT excellence, the city of Barcelona draws thousands of business people who come to attend professional conferences each year.

As such, the city of Barcelona wanted to create a seamless environment for mobile workers in the city, called “third places” (www.findthirdplace.com) —that is, suitable places to work with wireless connectivity, quiet environments, and resources such as printers. They also wanted to help businesses increase productivity and draw more visitors to the city. Hence, Barcelona city officials and the Microsoft Innovation Centre for Productivity (MIC Productivity) decided to launch a portal aimed at helping mobile workers find ideal locations to work no matter where they are in the city.

The Barcelona city officials turned to Microsoft’s cloud services and used Windows Azure cloud platform. It took just six weeks to launch the cloud-based portal, about half the time it would have taken if the city of Barcelona purchased and configured its own servers, just in time for the Mobile World Congress and showcase its IT excellence.

“With Windows Azure, the infrastructure was already up and running in the cloud,” says Francisco Rodriguez, Director of Telecommunications for the city of Barcelona. “The city simply had to add its own data, which was much faster than implementing a portal using traditional, store-bought servers,” he says.

MIC Productivity built the portal on the Windows Azure platform  and hosted within Microsoft data centres. In addition, the portal uses Bing Maps to show users the highest-rated spots and how to find them. As more people have learned about the “third place”, its usage has grown, but it can be easily scaled to offer users a seamless experience, even during peak demand times.

“Windows Azure lets you adjust resources dynamically, ensuring that the system response will be fast, regardless of demand,” says Xavier Llobera, Business Development Manager at the Microsoft Innovation Center for Productivity.

Since the launch of “Third Place”, The City of Barcelona has increased productivity—both for residents and tourists working in third places. This, in turn, has enabled the city to better serve its citizens, while expanding its reputation as a premiere location for business conferences.

Given the portal’s success in Barcelona, MIC Productivity has already launched the solution in other Spanish cities, and plans to expand the portal to other parts of Europe in the future.

“Ultimately, we believe this portal will prove a useful tool for many cities that seek to boost the competitive advantage of companies in their jurisdictions.”

You can find the full case study here.


Small & Medium Enterprises are the backbone of Europe’s economy. We work hard with governments and industry to ensure that SMEs get the most out of technology. Thanks to cloud computing that has pervasive benefits throughout the economy, SMEs can now exploit economies of scale, to rapidly expand their business and offer innovative solutions with less risk. This space on our website is dedicated to innovative European SMEs and the added-value of cloud computing to their businesses.

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