Urbanization and the digital revolution are important phenomena worldwide. Forecasts project that, by the year 2050, more than 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Urbanization may be even stronger in Latin America and the Caribbean with as much as 86% of the population expected to live in urban centers by 2050. Population growth, rising citizen expectations, concerns about public safety and pressures on natural resources are driving digital transformation to smart cities. City leaders seek to improve economic prosperity, become more resilient and provide services digitally.

Earlier this month I participated in the workshop “Migrating from Traditional City Management to the Smart City” at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). This workshop included case studies from many cities around the world: from Tel Aviv to Rio de Janeiro, Singapore to Pangyo, Buenos Aires to Santander, Medellin and more.

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The best practices shared were insightful.  Some of my key takeaways:

  • The roadmap to a smart city varies – A new city built from the ground up can place sensors directly into the infrastructure and become smart from the start, while more established cities may become smart over time as they upgrade infrastructure or redevelop neighborhoods.
  • Identify priority projects – Smart city projects need to improve citizens’ lives. Gather input from citizens, businesses, non-profits and other stakeholders to identify and select the appropriate projects.
  • Start small and learn from the experience – Test ideas with small proofs of concept, then scale them. Some smart city projects will work, others may need to be revised or may prove impractical and stopped.
  • Connectivity is critical – Information and communications technology to connect things to a digital core enable smart cities. Cities with high population density and high-speed networks may be able to more quickly embrace smart city projects.
  • Engage start-ups and entrepreneurs – Civic engagement, such as hackathons or competitions for smart city ideas can unleash creativity to benefit all.

Find out more about how Buenos Aires is becoming a smart city with Internet of Things: http://www.sap.com/customer-testimonials/public-sector/city-of-buenos-aires.html

You can download “The Road toward Smart Cities: Migrating from Traditional City Management to the Smart City” at:

https://publications.iadb.org/handle/11319/7743#sthash.WnCFTdo8.dpuf

This publication is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

How is your city becoming smart? We would like to hear about the journey, regardless of size: small town, county council, regional government. Please share your journey to becoming a “smart city”.

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