Why Build Smart? Improving Quality of Life for Citizens in Latin America
Cisco President Latin America & Senior Vice President in the Americas
Partners/Channel, Public Sector, Smart and Connected Communities, Collaborations
April 20, 2018
People are moving to cities all over the world at the rate of 10,000 people per hour. By 2050, 66% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, stressing aging infrastructures and already crowded areas. Sufficient fresh water is likely to be an issue in many growing cities, as is efficient transportation. Government leaders are preparing for this influx by thinking about how to make their quickly expanding towns and cities as pleasant and safe as possible. And they are using technology to make it happen.
Sensors in urban areas now gather data about everything from available parking spots and traffic speed to air quality and water usage. Analyzing this data helps city officials make better decisions, saving energy and money. It also helps citizens avoid traffic congestion, or monitor their water or electricity usage in real time, saving them time and money as well. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Totty, “Whether it’s making it easier for residents to find parking places or guiding health inspectors to high-risk restaurants or giving smoke alarms to the households that are most likely to suffer fatal fires, big data technologies are beginning to transform the way cities work.”
Technology is the key driver for mayors and other city officials to transform their cities – they have already invested over $41 trillion worldwide in Internet of Things (IoT) tools and platforms to modernize cities, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine. But the goal of all of this technology is to improve the quality of life -- livability, workability, and sustainability. And to allow citizens to participate in that process.
A secure and reliable network is essential for urban areas to transform into Smart Cities. Not only is the network necessary for the collection and transmission of data, it allows the city’s workforce to fully participate in the shift to a digital economy, driving economic growth.
City leaders are quickly realizing that it makes sense to use one technology platform across all of the different city departments. One unified platform simplifies training and data sharing. It also allows for coordination of resources, which can be critically important in an emergency. Cisco Kinetic for Cities is one such platform. It has already been proven to improve productivity and reduce emergency response time by 10-20% in cities that are using it.
Here’s one example of how Cisco Kinetic improves the quality of life in a Smart City. When sensors notify city agencies of poor weather conditions, they can quickly change lighting levels, speed limit signs, even roadway routes. Residents receive real-time updates on road and weather conditions, including recommended travel routes. There are fewer accidents, and fewer frustrated drivers.
Cities are already transforming all over Latin America. At the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, the Municipality of Mérida (Yucatán, Mexico) signed an MOU with Cisco and Ikusi, a digital transformation advisor, to collaborate in the transformation of Yucatán’s capital city, implementing relevant Smart City use cases for Mérida’s downtown, an important tourist area for México.
And in December, 2017, Cisco and Digicel, a major telecommunication services provider, signed a Frame Agreement to accelerate digital transformation in the Caribbean and Central America. The agreement aims to assist economic development in the region through digitization, and position the Caribbean and Central American countries for success in the digital economy.
Cisco is working with city officials all over Latin America to lay the groundwork for digital transformation and Smart Cities. Cities must embrace technology in order to stay competitive. And although Smart Cities may start with technology, the end result is safer environments and happier citizens.