An old port city on Spain’s Atlantic coast has emerged as a prototype for high-tech smart cities worldwide. Blanketed with sensors, it’s changing the way of life for its residents. Santander is a picturesque coastal city – the sound of waves, crashing on the seawall, provides a gentle backdrop to daily life. Aside from the occasional ferry from England, the town in the northeast of Spain doesn’t get too many foreign visitors. It turned quite a few heads, then, when delegations from Google, Microsoft and the Japanese government all landed here recently, to literally walk the city streets. What they’ve been coming to see though is mostly invisible: 12,000 sensors buried under the asphalt, affixed to street lamps and atop city buses. They silently survey parking availability, and whether surf’s up at local beaches. They can even tell garbage collectors which dumpsters are full, and automatically dim street lights when no one’s around.