How Digital enough are Mexican Cities?
I recently have an enormous opportunity to participate in a discussion panel regarding Digital Cities in México. This panel was conducted by IMCISS – Instituto Mexicano de Ciudades Inteligentes, Sustentables y Sostenibles, A. C., an organization which main interest is to create a plan of action that will contribute to the quality of life for those who live in cities in Mexico. In the panel, moderated by Sandra Barrón, Head of Digital Solutions and Innovation from Fundación IDEA, also participated Mr. Antti Knuuti who is part of the Smart Cities VTT in Finland and Diego Sancho Gastelum Chief Cities Executive for Siemens México. The main intention of the panel was to discuss the digital maturity of Mexican cities.
First of all, we were discussing the importance and real need of Digital Cities across the country. Now with almost 50% of citizens living in urban areas, there’s a crucial focus on a better management of scarce resources. Without the use of innovative technology, it would be impossible to not only manage these resources, but to reduce costs and make this in a sustainable manner. These resources not only belong to government but to the different industries that are part of the urban ecosystem. Success will come if this city ecosystem collaborates to transform services by using innovative technology to deliver value to its people and businesses. At SAP we fully understand this and that’s why our SAP Future Cities Strategy is based on a cross industry effort with specialized solutions from utilities, transportation, higher education, healthcare, etc.
But what are the main challenges México is facing for achieving Digital Transformation in cities? Not very different from what it’s happening in other regions… Infrastructure needs high investment to refurbish old and construct new roads, bridges, storm drains, water systems, energy grid. If we talk about mobility, more and more traffic congestions with the pollution involved in this is of great attention. The need of parking spaces and more livable places for people who sleep in nearby cities. It is well known that Public Safety is a major issue in México, we can reduce the number and impact of security events through Digital Transformation. On the other hand, we are facing hyper – connectivity, the explosion of sensors & data that is not fully integrated and exploited with little chance to create real intelligence.
We also discussed relevant topics that are enablers but can also prevent from adopting digitalization. Open government and Open Data and the use of public data that can be exploited from public and private organizations, transparency is a concern. Cybersecurity, a global issue, is identified as a major concern in México affecting any digital strategy at a city level. Due to insecurity, personal data protection is one topic local governments must take care. Despite there is a solid regulatory framework, one issue that worries local governments is the enforcement of that framework.
México has the resources, institutions and public policies that can work together to transform its cities in Smart Cities in the short term. It is important to define and implement formal Digital Transformation strategies harmonizing the full Smart Cities ecosystem.