This article is available also in spanish here
Technology in smart cities: from chips to people
My list

Author | Oscar ChamatA few years ago, for work reasons, I visited what was then one of the five most violent cities in the world -one of the 43 Latin American countries included in the top-50. When I landed, and as soon as I had gone through immigration in the airport, I was picked up in an armoured 4x4 vehicle. The person that collected me was an engineer, whose public or private life did not warrant special security, yet an armoured vehicle was her normal way of getting around the city. On the way to the hotel, in one of the more desirable areas of the city, she warned me “do not walk any further than that shopping centre (barely 150 m) and never stay out any later than 17:00”. In just a couple of hours in this city, my hopes of discovering it by myself were reduced to two windows (the hotel window and the car window) and in a “controlled” environment: the metres that separated me from the shopping centre. The rest was out of bounds.During the week that I spent there, thanks to the fact that I skipped the rules and went beyond the control area -at different times of the day and on different days, but I was never out later than 17:00-, I discovered that the urban experience of its residents was similar to mine: they lived through the windows of their homes or their cars, as I saw very few people out on the streets when I went for a walk.The aim of this trip was to discover the smart initiatives being applied in these cities to reduce their violent crime rates. So I met with the mayor and his team of international advisers. The mayor was a charismatic person, with high leadership capacity and he truly believed that a smart city was the way to go. They (all of them men) proudly and with sound technical knowledge, explained the deployment of sensors, cameras, smart lighting, free Wi-Fi and autonomous electric vehicles that were to be implemented in order to, among other objectives, control crime and attract and retain investments.At the end of the meeting, I felt like I had been at the presentation of technological gadgets for cities, but that they were not connected to their urban and historical context: a city which, given its topography and climate, is perfect for cycling and walking, but nobody does it. There also used to be a tradition of sharing and enjoying the streets and the squares, which now, because of the violence, were deserted.

The trend in the field of smart cities focuses on creating environments in which people can enjoy public spaces
Three days after that meeting, I was driven back to the airport in the armoured 4x4 vehicle with the same bittersweet taste that I tend to get -more often than I would like- when I visit one of the other 43 Latin American cities that are on the list of the most violent cities in the world: cities that want to solve their problems by installing chips in the street when the trend in the field of smart cities focuses on creating environments in which people can enjoy public spaces and ensuring that the management and decision-making processes in the cities are smart and inclusive.My professional curiosity makes me keep informed of what is going on in that city and I can see how the technology they talked about in the meeting is sharing the limelight, without ever disappearing, with other projects such as improving parks, building cycling routes and new citizen participation processes.This city still appears on the list of the 50 most violent cities in the world, at the end of this list, but the fact that the hospitals are attending to half of these victims is, without doubt, a great step forward in making it a safe city.In this regard, as I wanted to understand how the commitment to become a smart city had helped it reduce its violent crime rates, I came across a number of elements that caught my attention, not because of the exceptional nature of them, but because they coincide with other cities, which experts classify as the characteristics of “smart cities in Latin America”:• Prioritisation of investment for improving public spaces with the aim of getting more people -in terms of quantity and diversity- to feel safer and for longer periods in such spaces.• Redesigning the administrative structure of the city in order to identify, among others, the phases of decision-making processes, where citizen participation provides added value (or not) -this involves accepting that this participation is essential if it is to become a smart city.• Generating a medium-long-term project that excites the population and with a leadership that can be clearly identified and, particularly, that gains the trust of the academy, society and the private sector.
In Latin America, which is the most urbanised region of the planet, perhaps they should focus their efforts on aspects such as the quality of public spaces
This city still has plenty of challenges to tackle, which it shares with the rest of the region, for example, making them more inclusive or defining environmentally and economically sustainable waste management models. By choosing technology to address these challenges, cities are sure to make great progress, but in Latin America, which is the most urbanised region of the planet (84% of the population living in cities in 2017), perhaps they should focus their efforts on aspects such as the quality of public spaces, efficiency in participatory and decision-making processes, without ignoring the role that technology can play in this process. We cannot forget that intelligence is the ability to choose the best options and that technology is just one of these options.Oscar Chamat is a senior consultant in urban innovation currently working for the Barcelona Council for the bike lane network expansion. He is also a lecturer of smart cities in Colombia and co-produce CiudadHub, a podcast about innovation in cities.

Related content
Home working increases cyber-security fears
Home working increases cyber-security fears
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
What technology is used to prevent and punish crime? - Infographic
What technology is used to prevent and punish crime? - Infographic
Vienna will install smart traffic lights that will recognise when pedestrians want to cross the street
Vienna will install smart traffic lights that will recognise when pedestrians want to cross the street
The future of cities lies in data
The future of cities lies in data
Usama Bilal: “It is important for cities to act as health prevention agents”
Usama Bilal: “It is important for cities to act as health prevention agents”
Home automation and safety: New Orleans reduces its fires with minimal prior investment
Home automation and safety: New Orleans reduces its fires with minimal prior investment
The justice administration in smart cities: between streamlining and automation
The justice administration in smart cities: between streamlining and automation
Social score system: A tool to oppress or reward citizens?
Social score system: A tool to oppress or reward citizens?
Should we be looking to the stars or at cities? Practical approaches to the phenomenon of overpopulation
Should we be looking to the stars or at cities? Practical approaches to the phenomenon of overpopulation
These are the cyber threats that jeopardise the security of smart cities
These are the cyber threats that jeopardise the security of smart cities
How does technology enables San Francisco to become a safe city for citizens?
How does technology enables San Francisco to become a safe city for citizens?
And then what? Cities after COVID-19
And then what? Cities after COVID-19
Arca: Wave control for better health
Arca: Wave control for better health
Xpernest: Handy tools to ensure a successful social distancing
Xpernest: Handy tools to ensure a successful social distancing
Microsoft: A strong commitment to a planet-size challenge
Microsoft: A strong commitment to a planet-size challenge
Urban overcrowding and rural depopulation: Are there any solutions to these problems?
Urban overcrowding and rural depopulation: Are there any solutions to these problems?
Technology in smart cities: from chips to people
Technology in smart cities: from chips to people
The Sails of Scampia: when inclusive architecture turns against people
The Sails of Scampia: when inclusive architecture turns against people
Black boxes in cars: safety or the beginning of the end of privacy in vehicles?
Black boxes in cars: safety or the beginning of the end of privacy in vehicles?
The algorithm that clears the way for emergency vehicles
The algorithm that clears the way for emergency vehicles
How cities are protecting elderly people from COVID-19
How cities are protecting elderly people from COVID-19
The next step in urban evolution: hyperconnected cities are on the way
The next step in urban evolution: hyperconnected cities are on the way
This is how emergency systems work in a smart city
This is how emergency systems work in a smart city
Neareo: Powering QR codes
Neareo: Powering QR codes
Facial recognition and combating crime: why biases can lead to a justice system full of prejudices
Facial recognition and combating crime: why biases can lead to a justice system full of prejudices
Proxyclick: Getting ready for the future of work
Proxyclick: Getting ready for the future of work
IEE: People Counter
IEE: People Counter
Ai.just: AI to keep COVID-19 in check at work
Ai.just: AI to keep COVID-19 in check at work
Go Zero Waste: A guide to zero waste living
Go Zero Waste: A guide to zero waste living
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Sven Gotovac
Sven Gotovac
FESB Split
HEAD OF CHAIR OF COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE AND OPERATING SYSTEMS\\n
richevel Richard Knowlton
richevel Richard Knowlton
Oxford Cyber Academy
Director
Lolita Zamora Jarapa
Lolita Zamora Jarapa
Saver's Travellers Travel and Tours
Owner, operation Manager
CS
Chandreyi Saha
Skyline Tech
President
Meilute Mikalajunaite
Meilute Mikalajunaite
Two-i SAS
Marketing Director
Carlos Olsen
Carlos Olsen
Global Business Innovation Intelligence
Developing innovation ecosystems and smart city projects.
HL
Harshita Lal
Deloitte India
Deloitte India
JB
José Barrantes
Oca Global
I+D+i Operation Manager
Patrice Claudon
Patrice Claudon
IT Trust Partner
Managing Partner
PK
Premananda Khundongbam
Self
IT Comprises
Volodymyr Huk
Volodymyr Huk
ELKO Ukraine
Business Development Manager
Avinash Ghuge
Avinash Ghuge
Acor Abhay Systems Pvt Ltd
Director
BN
Borja Navasqüés
Quum comunicacion
Customer services director
KH
Krüger Hannes
Schlentzek & Kühn GmbH
Salesman
ÓG
Óscar García
honeywell
Proposal Engineer
MM
Montse Muñoz
Ene Telecom
Sales Director
GG
Gustavo Gavassa
Independent Consultant
Owner
JL
JOSE LUIS LUNA
uaim
developer
YA
Yair Avramovich
Motorola Solutions
PM / System Eng.
Sales Recfaces
Sales Recfaces
RecFaces
Manager

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$