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Barcelona: The most wired city in the world

Fortune

The sun is still high in the sky on a June evening in Barcelona when Juan Blanco, Cisco’s [fortune-stock symbol=”CSCO”] business development director for southern Europe, takes me on a walk through the city’s medieval quarter, with its twisting alleyways and sidewalk cafés spilling over with people. As we enter a cobblestone square where the centuries-old El Born market hall stands, Blanco asks, “Notice anything unusual here?” At first I don’t. It looks like a typical Mediterranean city in full summer splendor, with nothing out of place—nothing, that is, until I look up and spot the curved plastic shields affixed to the lampposts at a height of about 30 feet, each with a few metal boxes inside. “Those?” I ask.

Those, indeed. The boxes are no regular electricity meters. They are fine-tuned computer systems, capable of measuring noise, traffic, pollution, crowds, even the number of selfies posted from the…

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