Every day, citizens, tourists and enterprises need to access a range of city services and resources, and in some cases to pay for them. Meanwhile, city councils are also developing various policies to boost healthy habits and social behaviour to improve the quality of life.
The Gijon City Council (ES) fulfils both these groups of needs with a smart card (Gijon Citizen Card) that gives citizens access to the city's services and public facilities, such as shared transport, cultural activities and digital services. It also sets up citizenship profiles to better match citizens' needs with public policies. The Citizen Card has become both an integrated tool for public services and a coordination and loyalty mechanism. Launched in 2002, the Citizen Card is now used by more than 270,000 people to access and pay for municipal services and activities.
The following list shows the different uses of the Citizen Card:
• Citizen Terminals: there are one-stop shops where citizens can access different procedures around the clock and with terminals that are located in the neighbourhoods (currently, there are 21);
• Public Transport: citizens can recharge the Citizen Card to use the bus. As it is a personal item, the card has information about citizens' situations and adapts the prices, and if someone loses their card the transport company refunds the credit previously put on the card;
• Virtual Office: access to online services;
• Parking tickets: to get a ticket to park the car in a restricted area;
• Libraries & Media Centres: the card allows members to borrow books, CDs and DVDs. There are 12 Tele-centres, each with approximately 15 computers where citizens can take courses or can connect to the Internet for one hour using the Citizen Card;
• Public toilets: with the Citizen Card, 18 equipped toilets can be used for free. Otherwise users have to pay for it;
• Free entry to local museums;
• Use of Bicycles: Throughout the city, there are 64 bikes that can be picked up and returned to eight terminals. The bikes are available for use free of charge for Citizen Card holders;
• Leisure Activities and venues: With the Citizen Card, it is possible to pay for and book different sport and cultural activities and venues;
• Car sharing of public electric vehicles: Free recharge of electric vehicles at five points in the city.
The Citizen Card will contribute to sustainable urban living because it promotes and facilitates the use of public transport and other sustainable ways of transportation such as car sharing or electric vehicles. Other uses linked to the promotion of sports and cultural activities are very important to foster integration, good health habits and to avoid social exclusion. The Citizen Card also contains details about users’ socio-economic situations, which allows us to adapt the rates of the different services, contributing in this way to the reduction of poverty.
One of the current aims of the Citizen Card is to work with a holistic and participative approach, because it combines different services that are interconnected and can share relevant information. It also allows citizens to participate and use the services throughout different tools (Citizen Terminals, online, etc.). Additionally, a free training session is offered on how to use the Citizen Card, favouring the digital inclusion of some groups and connectivity, and minimizing unnecessary trips.
To sum up, the Citizen Card plays a key role in the development of sustainable mobility by encouraging behaviours and habits of a healthy life, promoting a culture of energy efficiency and sustainable growth.
People and legal entities including associations, migrants and foreigners can have a Citizen Card. Currently, there are 269,669 cards held by people and 843 by enterprises. Gijón has a population of 272,813 (you can check the data in real time on our open data portal), but people who are citizens and carry out any activity in Gijón can also have a Citizen Card. The city schools also have Citizen Cards to take part in the programming of cultural and sport activities. During the launch phase of the project, all citizen groups were involved. It is worth mentioning the incorporation of participative movements in the development phase. The methodology was focused on the active participation and collaboration of municipal departments in charge of each civic sector (Sport, Education, Social Services, Mobility, Governance and Sustainability) which have been acting as mediators with different citizen groups.
Examples of contributors were the associative movements incorporated from neighbourhood groups and economic and social sectors of the city, such as architects, engineers, the hotel industry, building and transport enterprises, traders, etc.
As an indication of success, we can highlight the broad introduction of the Citizen Card in the population and its usefulness in the daily lives of Gijón’s citizens. The success is the result of a high level of political, managerial and technical leadership as well as the great involvement of citizens in this project. Currently, more than 270,000 card holders use them to access and pay for services and for municipal and activity facilities. The Citizen Card has an average of 32,000 uses/day and around 1,000,000 uses/month.
Many cities (Spanish, European and even worldwide) have shown interest in the Citizen Card and some of them have adopted a similar solution. The Citizen Card has also been presented at different international events and has been taken as experience and a success case by Eurocities and the Smart Cities Spanish Net, which unites the 35 main Spanish cities and whose goal is the exchange of good practices and reuse of technology in building smart cities for Horizon 2020.
The actual trends move forward interoperability, integration of services and use of electronic tools, and the Citizen Card offers a flexible and efficient solution to fulfil these challenges.