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What is a Smart City and Which are the Most Recognized in Latin America?

In LatinAmerican Post we Make a brief Explanation of the Changes that Make a "Traditional" City Become an "Intelligent" one and How the Region is Facing this Issue in the World.

Aerial view of Stockholm

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LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es una Ciudad Inteligente y cuáles son las más reconocidas en América Latina?

Amidst the great social, cultural and technological changes of the last 200 years, cities have seen a significant transformation all over the world. Currently, beyond the economic activities that can be found, it is important that cities have a true development system that allows these actions to be a differential for change with people at the center.

In this aspect, during the last years, a term has been coined that little by little ends up being new, to become a reality: 'Smart Cities'.

According to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), "a smart city is one that places people at the center of development, incorporates information and communication technologies in urban management, and uses these elements as tools to stimulate the information of an efficient government, which includes the processes of collaborative planning and citizen participation”.

According to this definition, smart cities make use of new technologies, such as the Internet and robotics, to strengthen democratic processes within a State and thus create true humanistic stimuli of equity and dignity among people.

"By promoting integrated and sustainable development, smart cities become more innovative and competitive, attractive and resilient, thus improving the lives of their citizens and entrepreneurs," adds the IDB.

You may also be interested in: The 6 best cities to study in Latin America

Characteristics of a Smart City

As for the details that, according to the IDB, make a city go from being "traditional" to "intelligent", its sustainability is found; its inclusion and transparency; the facility to generate wealth; and the position of the citizen within its development.

In the first place, every smart city must be sustainable, that is, the policies that are developed must seek the coexistence of state and private administration, without this relationship directly and extensively affecting the finite natural resources of the Earth. For this, the use of digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) is necessary, which allows "reducing costs and optimizing consumption" within society.

Regarding inclusion and transparency, the IDB ensures that every Smart City must have the ability to democratize its social, political and economic processes, making technology its best ally to facilitate direct communication between rulers and citizens. In this way, people can openly and first-hand know what the first do, doing a controlled and exhaustive follow-up of the city's public policies and finances.

Thirdly, there is the generation of wealth as a pillar that is based on the construction of "adequate infrastructure for the generation of high-quality jobs, innovation, competitiveness and business growth."

Last but not least, all of the above features should aim to think of people as the center of cities. Contrary to what was believed in the past, economic activities, and money as such, cannot be the objective of a Smart City. The recent humanistic changes in society have made the new governments see the citizen as the pillar of every great urban project in the world.

In this way, it seeks to make dignity a fundamental right that is managed with the use of new technologies as a tool to "satisfy the needs of the inhabitants in an intelligent and comprehensive way".

Smart cities in Latin America

Every year, the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa, better known as IESE Business School, develops a ranking known as IESE Cities in Motion, which explains precisely how the world is doing in terms of smart cities.

Under the index known as CIMI, this institution takes into account nine dimensions that, according to them, make it possible to distinguish the sustainability of cities and the quality of life of their inhabitants: governance, urban planning, technology, environment, international projection, social cohesion, human capital, mobility and transportation, and economics.

Based on these aspects, the five Latin American cities with the best position in this ranking are:

1. Santiago (Chile): 68th place in the ranking with an CIMI of 59.45 points.

2. Buenos Aires (Argentina): 90th place with an CIMI of 54.71 points.

3. Montevideo (Uruguay): 110th place with an CIMI of 50.38 points.

4. Panama City (Panama): position 113 with an CIMI of 47.93.

5. San José (Costa Rica): position 114 with an CIMI of 47.56.

As a curious fact, the city with the best CIMI in this index was London, capital of the United Kingdom, with a total of 100 units, while the worst in the ranking was a Latin American one: Caracas, capital of Venezuela, with only 4.15 points.

In total, of the 174 cities that were taken into account for this index, 15% are part of Latin America.

“Most of the Latin American cities are not in the top 100 positions in the general ranking, with the exception of Santiago and Buenos Aires. Latin America is one of the regions with the highest urban concentration on the planet, so the challenges these cities face are increasingly global and there are problems common to all of them”, was the conclusion reached by IESE Cities. inMotion.