Is Airbnb regulation adequate in Barcelona?


We hear about blockchain mostly in the context of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, the potential of blockchain technology is so much more. Taking advantage of the unique features of the technology, we made an attempt to design a service for cities to empower people using blockchain. More specifically, we investigated a new way for cities to better respond to the diverse needs of people and for people to better organize themselves and participate in the decision making of cities taking the example of Airbnb regulation in Barcelona.

Airbnb in Barcelona

Tourism in general and Airbnb in particular is one of the biggest concerns of people in Barcelona as it affects the price and availability of housing. As such, we first analyzed the extent of Airbnb in Barcelona. The map below visualizes the number of Airbnb reviews per district.

The map below visualizes the number of Airbnb per neighbourhood. The number is the greatest in Eixample followed by Ciutat Vella district.

Housing in Barcelona

The graph below compares the price of rent and disposable household income between 2000 and 2017. There was a drop in both figures during the Spanish financial crisis, but they are rapidly increasing in the last several years.

As of 2017, the average rent comprises 36% of the average disposable household income in Barcelona, which is 6% more than the recommended ratio. Housing price is an issue that affects everyone in Barcelona, but disproportionately more so for low income population.

Diverse needs of people

People’s needs are diverse according to the different circumstances and environment they live in. To examine this point, we looked at the disposable household income of different neighbourhoods in Barcelona.

We also looked into the average rent per surface in different neighbourhoods.

Population varies according to neighbourhoods as well.

Barcelona is a multicultural city. In Ciutat Vella district, for example, 44% of the residents are foreigners.

Just by taking four different indicators, we notice that the circumstances and environment varies greatly according to neighbourhoods and districts. While the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City states the right to a housing for all citizens and inhabitants, we question how the current system of democracy is capable of efficiently and effectively responding to the diverse needs of people.

Blockchain design

We understood blockchain as a technology that allows transfer of assets or information in a secure manner without a trusted third party through its decentralized and distributed ledger. Unlike other forms of digital documents, smart contracts made on the blockchain are immutable and does not allow users to make duplicate copies. We applied this feature to a voting mechanism.

Let’s take an example.

Through a partnership with the city council, the residents of Ciutat Vella district can hold an election on the subject matter using a blockchain platform and submit the results to the city council for revising, implementing and enforcing a new policy depending on the result of the election. Unlike petitions, the votes can only be registered by agreed upon constituencies using user verification technologies and there will be no plural voting.

The blockchain design using the Ethereum platform.

Impact to the city


EMPOWERING PEOPLE WITH BLOCKCHAIN is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in City and Technology in 2018/2019 by:
Students: Luna Nagatomo and Luyang Zhang
Faculty: Luïsa Marsal