Going for the win

19 April 2022

While sipping hot tea and coffee, partners of the UserCentriCities project met behind their screens to talk with Madrid about the city’s three user-centric apps: Madrid Te Acompaña, Madrid Movil, and Madrid Mobility 360.

Elder residents looking for people to go on a walk, for assistance with their grocery shopping or with booking a medical appointment can rely on Madrid Te Acompaña – Madrid accompanies you. The app matches seniors’ needs with volunteers who can help them. Madrid Te Acompaña is enjoying a resounding success: 3,400 seniors registered only two months after the app’s launch last December.

Commuters, on the other hand, can find answers to their mobility needs on Madrid Mobility 360 – a comprehensive app that integrates the city’s public and private mobility offer. The application provides information about busses, trams, familiar public bike service BiciMad, as well as taxi services, e-scooters and parking.

Madrid Movil – Madrid mobile – is the app city residents turn to for their online municipal services: from administrative procedures to booking sports and leisure activities, from new services using geolocalisation to reporting issues (this latter is one of the most used functions and helps Madrid be a better city.)

Intrigued by Madrid’s presentation of its apps, we asked Antonio Garcia De La Paz, Vice Principal of Data Strategy, Director of the Digital Office at the Madrid City Council, and Javier Lucas Rodriguez, Head of Data Coordination and Monitoring Department at the Madrid City Council, for more insight on Madrid’s user-centric projects.

What makes your apps user-centric?

Antonio Garcia De La Paz

Antonio Garcia De La Paz
All three focus on citizens and try to improve people’s way of life in our city.

Javier Lucas Rodriguez
User-centric services should have certain features, such as simplicity and user-friendliness. Users should be able to quickly communicate with the application’s provider or manager. And of course, user-centric services need to include co-creation and co-design elements.

For example, our Madrid Mobile app offers users clear and accessible information, a quick way of contacting the municipality and provides suggestions.

Antonio Jose Garcia De La Paz
Flexibility is another essential feature. All our apps are designed to be improved for future needs. For example, we are considering adding aspects that will help users acquire new digital skills within Madrid Te Acompaña. Our mobility app is built so that if there are new mobility services that appear in the city, they can be easily added. Our services need to be able to adapt to the new and fast-emerging needs of our citizens.

How do you deal with making your services as accessible as possible? Are you considering issues like the digital divide?

Javier Lucas Rodriguez

Javier Lucas Rodriguez

We are working on developing and introducing digital volunteers for all kinds of digital uses in Madrid. Because we know that the digital divide is a fact, and we have to work to reduce it. Digital volunteers are people who help others that have difficulties using digital technology, like senior residents, for example.

In addition, Madrid’s portal has to fulfill accessibility declaration’s requirements. That’s another step towards better accessibility.

The way we communicate with our citizens also has an impact on accessibility. And for this, we offer a practical guide on clear communication with recommendations about how to use easy, straightforward, transparent, simple and effective language.

Have you applied to the UserCentriCities Awards? Will you become the Best UserCentriCities service of 2022?

Antonio Garcia De La Paz

Yes, we are applying with our three projects. And we are confident that we will win. If we don’t believe in it, why should others?

Javier Lucas Rodriguez

Our projects are complementary. They give an overview of the city services and tackle issues that are very close to citizens: mobility, loneliness, care, and accessibility of public services. For example, Madrid Te Acompaña reaches out to seniors who need help or company. It’s a way to show them that Madrid and madrileños (the city residents) think about them and offer them time and  affection.

What has UserCentriCities taught you, and has it changed how you see some of your projects?

Antonio Garcia De La Paz

The UserCentriCafes are a perfect way to hear about what partners are doing.

For example, we are now asking the mobility app provider about integrating a suggestion from one of our Café meetings – namely, to add a function allowing people to see how much CO2 they produce over a certain period of time.

It’s a good way to review what we are doing and think about future initiatives that could be suggested to the Madrid city council.

What are your expectations for the future of the project?

Javier Lucas Rodriguez

I have big expectations for the development of a methodology that defines user-centric services in terms of factors, and characteristics we can measure and compare.

Antonio Garcia De La Paz

Having something to compare to will help us set objectives and force cities to consider user-centricity in their services.

Javier Lucas Rodriguez

Networking is another expectation. Being in touch with people from other cities working on the same issues or talking to people in the European Union who can support us is important. Although this expectation is already being met.


Wilma Dragonetti Eurocities Writer