If you’ve ever played a video game where you manage a virtual city, you understand how real-time insight into services including emergency response teams and transportation is needed for effective city planning. Until recently, the technologies just weren’t available to support this kind of detailed “big picture” view enjoyed by gamers. However, now that Big Data business intelligence (BI) solutions are a reality, Barcelona, Spain is working to achieve transformative insight so that it can better meet the needs of its citizens. 

To test the feasibility of a Big Data BI solution, Barcelona created a pilot that runs on a hybrid cloud based on Windows Azure, Windows Azure HDInsight Service, and Microsoft SQL Server 2012. With it, users can view real-time BI that combines petabytes of existing data in the city’s systems with new, unstructured public data sources such as Twitter, app log files, and GPS signals from cell phone providers. The BI is served up via mobile apps, dashboards, custom reports, and data services.

The variety of technology choices in the Microsoft platform simplified development. For example, engineers met the diverse needs of users and devices using HDInsight and built-in tools in SQL Server, Microsoft Office, and Visual Studio. Engineers were also able to manage the project’s varied data and cost requirements with Apache Hadoop and Azure’s other storage options, which you can read about here.

Everyone wins with this kind of solution. City employees are more productive because they quickly see how services are working from “big picture” views that include detailed numbers and social media feedback. Citizens enjoy a better quality of life because services like emergency teams, transportation, schools, and festivals are customized to meet real needs. Businesses can also increase success by quickly recognizing investment opportunities in specific neighborhoods. Other cities also benefit because they can adopt this repeatable smart-city infrastructure to transform insight, lifestyles, and economic success.

You can learn more about Barcelona’s pilot solution by reading the case study and watching the video here.