#47 Salinas: Innovation And Sustainability In "A Smart Village"

Episode 53 October 18, 2023 00:24:39
#47 Salinas: Innovation And Sustainability In "A Smart Village"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#47 Salinas: Innovation And Sustainability In "A Smart Village"

Oct 18 2023 | 00:24:39

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Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In the second episode of our Greencities S-Moving series, we travelled once again to Spain, in a town near Alicante: the Municipality of Salinas. We had the pleasure to discuss with Pablo Rodriguez, the Innovation Agent of Salinas, about the town's innovative projects, sustainability initiatives, and their goals for a better urban lifestyle.

From green energy and water treatment to hydrogen projects, we explored how smaller towns can embrace technology and collaboration for the benefit of their citizens.

 

Overview of the episode:

01:40 - Teaser: What are the most beautiful places in Salinas?

01:36 - Meet Pablo Rodriguez: The Innovation Agent for Salinas, Spain.

03:29 - Salinas' journey from an industrial town to a smart village.

06:52 - Nurturing industry and attracting businesses to Salinas.

09:22 - The town's goal to become a "smart village" and their green energy initiatives.

11:52 - A glimpse into Salinas' water treatment and hydrogen project.

15:22 - Collaborating and competing in EU projects as a small town.

18:41 - Engaging citizens and overcoming challenges in sustainability projects.

21:42 - Inspire Us: Our guest shares a story, a quote, or anything that has inspired him lately.

24:30 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?

 

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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Welcome to Smart in The City, the BABLE podcast, where we bring together top actors in the Smart City arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. [00:00:21] Tamlyn Shimizu: I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and. [00:00:24] Tamlyn Shimizu: I hope you will enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate. [00:00:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: The change for a better urban life. [00:00:31] Tamlyn Shimizu: Smart in the City is brought to you by BABLE smart Cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at BABLE SmartCities. [00:00:43] Tamlyn Shimizu: EU so today I am here at the Green Cities s moving event in the beautiful city of Malaga, Spain. We are media partners and so we're getting out the word to Europe and the rest of the world about all the incredible projects going on in cities and towns in Spain and what they're doing and what lessons they have to share. So at BABLE, although we like to say, of course, cities, because we talk about smart cities, we're very, very fond of smaller places. We even actually have a new EU project focused on small places as well, and we want to look at how they're incorporating ideas of innovation, collaboration into their landscape as well. So with me today, I have a wonderful guest for you, pablo Rodriguez. He's the innovation agent for the town of Salinas in Spain. Welcome. [00:01:36] Pablo Rodriguez: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me for the interview. [00:01:40] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yes, it's absolutely my pleasure. And we just found out also you're a frequenter of Stuttgart, which is where I live now, too, so we have a lot in common and I'm excited to talk more with you. So I have a little teaser to get us started, and that is what is the most beautiful place in your town? Can you describe it in like two sentences? [00:02:02] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, we have the Laguna, where it was salted, and you can go there for a walk. We have beautiful mountains, so you can also go there and have yeah, biking, just climbing. [00:02:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: You know, I've never actually gone to Spain for holiday. I've only ever been to Spain for work, so all of these things sound basically amazing to me, but I've never been able to experience them in Spain. So next time I have a lot of places to visit in Spain with all the podcasts. Thanks for thanks for warming up there. And I would like to ask you now about yourself. What is your background, where do you come out of? Where are you from? Give us all the juicy details. [00:03:04] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, I come from Alcoy, which is a city which is quite near Salinas, and I have an engineering background and also I have worked in the industry for several years, more than 15 years. And in the last years, I have been very occupied, very busy with the innovation. And that was my point. What I have ever wanted to innovate to create new things from new processes or new products or new ways of doing things in the industry, but also in the service area. So two years ago came the opportunity of joining the municipality world. So the administration and I have joined this network of theodades, the La Tienfe La Novation, which is this impulsive network. And Salinas is part of this network. [00:04:29] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. What does the network do? Just to give people a little bit more background on that? [00:04:35] Pablo Rodriguez: Yeah, mainly we develop innovation problem projects in every area. Tourism, mobility, green energies and everything that sounds new or are different, we move it. [00:05:01] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay. [00:05:01] Pablo Rodriguez: And we learn what's more important that we learn from each other. [00:05:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, the exchange is very important. Little question. What does innovation mean to you? [00:05:15] Pablo Rodriguez: Innovation, I think that I have described it to make things different or think about things differently. [00:05:26] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. It's a change in perception or perspective. [00:05:31] Pablo Rodriguez: And for that you must have a very holistic view of things and you must know from different disciplines. You cannot join to only one job or only one way of seeing things. [00:05:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. You have to get the whole picture to be able to innovate. Well. [00:05:58] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes, because when does things happen? When you can summarize or take things from this part and put it there on another discipline. [00:06:15] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. [00:06:15] Pablo Rodriguez: And how it's done in this sector? Okay. What can I take from that sector and put it in the tourism, for example? That's innovation. Also you can innovate in the processes, in the products, or in ways of doing things. [00:06:32] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. I've had a podcast episode that was titled this too, but I like to think of things as copy edit paste. So a lot of what we do at BABLE is like, what can we take from all the data and all the knowledge in the world? Take it into a certain context, edit it a bit to the local context, make sure it fits, and then innovate from there. Right, so that's how I like to think of it. Do you agree? [00:06:59] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes. And you have to be open minded to new things or at least hearing what's happening or what others think about some subject. And that gives you new perspectives so that you can to move your way of thinking and to maybe make things. [00:07:28] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I went off on a little bit of a tangent there on innovation because I really liked the topic. But I do want to ask you a bit more about your town, about Salinas. Can you describe a little bit more? Paint a picture for us about what the town is. How big is it, where is it, what is kind of the goals and the framework of the city? [00:07:51] Pablo Rodriguez: Yeah, Salinas is a sunny town in the southeast of Spain. Yeah. 50 km inland, the coast in Alicante and it's surrounded by mountains. Very quiet place to live. And you have all the services because you have good connections and although it's a small town, you have a lot of companies. We have three industrial areas and we are going to open a new one. [00:08:32] Tamlyn Shimizu: Oh, wow. How have you fostered that kind of development with the industries? [00:08:37] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes, because that was a way of making people stay in the town. [00:08:45] Tamlyn Shimizu: Of course, the brain drain happening to bigger cities. Right. Yeah. [00:08:51] Pablo Rodriguez: And also because we couldn't have or live from the tourism because we have near towns which offer more to the tourists and yeah, traditionally we have made industry our start point. [00:09:13] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. Good. But how have you gone about doing that? How have you attracted that? [00:09:22] Pablo Rodriguez: Yeah, we have surface, we have land enough to offer and if you offer. [00:09:31] Tamlyn Shimizu: Cheap enough prices, cheaper prices, and you. [00:09:35] Pablo Rodriguez: Are a businessman, you have good communications. So that's not much to think. [00:09:41] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. Good. I want to also touch a little bit on what the main challenges you're working on. What are the main challenges your town is facing and how are you tackling them? [00:09:53] Pablo Rodriguez: Right, our goal is to become a smart village. [00:10:01] Tamlyn Shimizu: Smart village ideas. [00:10:03] Pablo Rodriguez: Yeah, we hear about smart city cities, but we want to be I think that we are partly already a smart village. [00:10:15] Tamlyn Shimizu: It's not black and white, it's a linear. Yeah. [00:10:18] Pablo Rodriguez: And we have a background of being pioneers in green energies. For more than 15 years we rent roofs of warehouses. That what we have that the town council belongs to companies which in that time put solar installations on them and we get a percentage of the cash of the profits. And that's a benefit for the town because that's an income from us. For us. That was one of the first things that we made. But we have been making project, innovative projects like creating bioconstruction materials, making from just recycling materials. [00:11:23] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. [00:11:24] Pablo Rodriguez: And that's a point that we are going to reinforce in the future because of the interest of the industries that is working. We have also tried demobility, have put several charges, we have been putting more and also well, two years ago what we've made is we built water deposits, drilled a new water well and this is all powered by an off grid solar system. [00:12:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Oh, cool. Yeah. [00:12:08] Pablo Rodriguez: And that is going to make us independent from other municipalities for the water because we hadn't enough and we had to take this water from other municipalities. [00:12:23] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. You're only a village really of close to 2000. Right. Less than 2000 actually, in population. So you are being very front runners in this for the villages. What do you think has enabled you to be able to do this? I'm just thinking like other people listening to this, they're from villages and they're saying, okay, I want to do this too. What enables this? [00:12:54] Pablo Rodriguez: Obviously it's because of the political will and not only from one color, from others, because this comes from quite time ago. But I think that now in their recent years, they are pushing it forward really hard. [00:13:16] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. So political will, I guess, for citizens also in smaller towns, actually, they have a bit of a bigger voice too, that they can push for these types of initiatives. So yeah, really interesting. [00:13:33] Pablo Rodriguez: We have another initiative that we have all ready to start, which is local energetic community where all citizens and small businessmen could be part of it. So they are going to get the energy cheaper by joining this community. This community. [00:14:04] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. [00:14:05] Pablo Rodriguez: What makes the council, the town council, is to lend surfaces so that new solar panels can be installed and then this energy will be directly consumed to all the members of this community and everyone can join it. [00:14:32] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. What are you looking for? What is like your bottleneck right now? You're doing great things, and you talked about a lot of the projects that you're doing to meet challenges with climate, energy, that type of thing. But what is your bottleneck right now? What are you facing right now that's really I'm sure you even want to go faster and do more, right? What is stopping you? [00:14:58] Pablo Rodriguez: I think the same thing that stops everyone of going forward, which is differentiation. Yeah. If you have money, you can make things. But we have also done things accordingly of our resources according to what we could have and not make too much or what we couldn't afford. [00:15:28] Tamlyn Shimizu: I think that's being resourceful. [00:15:32] Pablo Rodriguez: Otherwise maybe you could have people against the projects, because if the projects are a benefit for the town, you will join the people, but if not, then. [00:15:51] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, I actually wanted to ask you about that. How has the response been from the citizens on all these? Have you seen any people pushing back against solar, for example? Have you seen people really embracing a lot of these initiatives? What's been your experience? [00:16:08] Pablo Rodriguez: Well for the big plans you know that there are also always controversy but it doesn't depend on the consul because if these solar plants are installed on private surfaces and all the permits are giving from the ministerium or the regional government, then the municipality can make appointments, can say okay, maybe this can be made better this way also. But if it's private, the law, we have not much space to move. [00:17:11] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. [00:17:12] Pablo Rodriguez: Because if they are not so big, there's not much problem. And our installations are all on the roofs. And I think this is the yeah, absolutely. [00:17:25] Tamlyn Shimizu: And you're also trying to get more involved in different EU projects and getting a challenge. Has that been a challenge for you, being a small place? [00:17:37] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes. Because your resources are limited. But we are trying it hard when we are concurring with big cities. The last big project that I prepared, it was for for a tourism. For the tourism, and we are competing against the concurrence is hard. [00:18:05] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. [00:18:06] Pablo Rodriguez: And you may be sometimes frustrated because if you have prepared a good project and it doesn't go ahead, then but. [00:18:18] Tamlyn Shimizu: You put a lot of effort into. [00:18:19] Pablo Rodriguez: The proposal and we are always positive. [00:18:22] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, you seem very positive. I like it. Wonderful. I want to ask you, I actually asked this to a previous guest and I really liked it. So imagine that you're talking to yourself from ten years in the future. What do you hope to have accomplished? [00:18:46] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, my wish is that people can live better in his own town and that you make a more livable town. And if you can contribute for a better living to the people, then I. [00:19:09] Tamlyn Shimizu: Think that's very purposeful. Yes. [00:19:12] Pablo Rodriguez: You can be satisfied. [00:19:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Good. I'd like to give you now the open floor if you'd like to talk about anything that we didn't yet get the chance to talk about. If you want to dive deeper into any of your projects that you mentioned. If you have anything else to mention. [00:19:30] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes. We are now diving in a very interesting project oh, cool. Which has to do with the hydrogen. [00:19:39] Tamlyn Shimizu: Oh, hot topic. Yeah. [00:19:42] Pablo Rodriguez: And we are thinking about our water treatment installation to recover the water from the waste wastewater and reuse it to be drinkable by first converting it to hydrogen, serving it, and then using this hydrogen to create energy. And then you have this waste from this burning, which is water. And this water, this water can be reused. It's a very milled water. And we can mix this milled water with our hard water instaliness. [00:20:37] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay. And then it's a happy medium. Yeah, it sounds very innovative. [00:20:43] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes. And if it works, we are going to make another project, thinking about new things in the industrial area with the hydrogen. But we want to test first this pilot project and then make it big. [00:21:07] Tamlyn Shimizu: What stage are you at in this project? [00:21:10] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, we have more or less the calculations and now we are looking for finance. For money. [00:21:22] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, looking for the money. If you have money, send it. Pablo's way. [00:21:28] Pablo Rodriguez: Yes, please. [00:21:30] Tamlyn Shimizu: No, we can help you with that. [00:21:32] Pablo Rodriguez: I will give you the details. [00:21:34] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, love to talk after this. Yeah, good. Anything else that you wanted to mention? [00:21:41] Pablo Rodriguez: No. [00:21:42] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, no, it's wonderful. So then with that, I'll move on to our segment that I selected for you today. And this segment is called Inspire US. [00:21:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: Inspire us just a little bit with a story, a quote or anything that has inspired you recently. [00:22:06] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, recently the last meeting that we had that the people are very willing to share their experiences. And I think that this is the challenge that we change the way we think about cooperation, collaboration. So we are no more in a competition because things are going really fast and the more we know, the more we will grow ourselves and our town. I think this is the point. [00:22:41] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. Collaboration always inspires me, so that's good to hear. So, last question. It's a question I warned you about. It's our question that we ask every single guest, and it's to you. What is a smart city? Well, not a city, but a village, a small village. [00:23:01] Pablo Rodriguez: Well, I think that a smart village would be a place where everyone who lives there takes profit of the technology for a better living. That could be a definition. Not definitely definition, but this is why we ask, right? [00:23:23] Tamlyn Shimizu: Because everyone has a different definition and it's been a term that's been debated for so long and I like it not having a definition, actually. I like it being variable based off of perspective from different people. So that's the point. And you put it very well. So with that, then, I just have to thank you very much for coming on on this wonderful day in Malaga and it's been a really big pleasure to speak with you. [00:23:50] Pablo Rodriguez: So thank you, thank you. And I hope that you can enjoy Spain and you come to make tourism. [00:23:58] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yes, I will come one of these days. Good. And then to all of our listeners, don't forget you can always create a free account on BABLE SmartCities EU. You can find out more about smart city projects, different cities, solutions, implementations. So thank you all very much. Thank you all for listening. [00:24:16] Tamlyn Shimizu: I'll see you at the next stop. [00:24:18] Tamlyn Shimizu: On the journey to a better urban lifestyle cause.

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