Smart Cities are those with applied technology used to improve infrastructure and services for the benefit of its inhabitants. Latin America has joined the global trend towards Smart Cities through the application of artificial intelligence, big data and robotics.
The regional leaders are Santiago in Chile, which has made great progress in urban and environmental planning, followed by Buenos Aires, Montevideo, San José in Costa Rica and Panama. All these cities stand out for their innovation, services, sustainability and care for public space but still lag behind with the best of Europe or Asia.
A specialist in urban policy and mobility reports, “Population growth is one engine of this transformation, but social equity and inclusion are also driving forces. Very few cities in Latin America are at the level of Buenos Aires today. Santiago in Chile maybe, they started long before, but no others.”
“Very few cities in Latin America are at the level of Buenos Aires today. Santiago de Chile maybe, they started long before, but no others.”
Urban policy and mobility specialist, Argentina
Smart Cities have several areas of focus, 1) smart mobility, including electric vehicles, an integrated public transport network, new payment systems, etc.; 2) sustainable development including waste management, clean energy, green schools, etc.; 3) digital transformation to improve connectivity, open data etc; and 4) smart security, for disaster prevention and citizen security using smart cameras, drones, sensors and command centres.
Outside Buenos Aires, there are many other cities across the region planning a smart future. An economic consultant for urban resilience sees a huge opportunity being accelerated by the impacts of the pandemic, “Buenos Aires is undoubtedly the most advanced Smart City in the region but there are many others which have already begun the process of change, and this will surely be driven faster by the pandemic. Furthermore, the Smart City transformation is not destroying jobs but is paving the way for the creation of higher-quality jobs. It’s a win-win.”
“The reality shows that this transformation is not destroying jobs but is paving the way for the creation of higher quality jobs.”
Economist specialising in urban resilience, Argentina
The great challenge is how to continue development once quarantine is over and there is a better understanding of what post-pandemic life will be like. In Buenos Aires, work has started on updating the urban environmental plan, with a strong component of citizen participation, in a programme that has been called “PlanifiAcción.”
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