Federico De Arteaga
Director of Planning
Grupo JB

Smart Technologies Embraced in Small Town

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 12:28

Dotted across the vast expanse of Mexico’s landscape are small villages that epitomize the cultural riches and traditions of the country. They are named Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) and they stand as a tapestry immortalizing the rich history of Mexico. One of the most noted is Tequila, located in Guadalajara. Federico De Arteaga, Director of Planning of Grupo JB, plans on developing this emblematic city into a touristic, intelligent, and sustainable destination that unifies many aspects of the country’s culture.

The term “smart city” is not limited to the megalopolis; small towns can also innovate and actively embrace technology to benefit their communities. “In fact, their small size gives them an advantage over their larger counterparts since the implementation of solutions is easier to oversee,” De Arteaga declares. In addition, it is easier to evaluate the impact on the entire city and adjust faster, so municipalities can develop small scale projects for key innovations and new technologies.

According to De Arteaga, large cities already implement long term strategies for urban development and elaborate systems within the city management. “Because of this, when implementing an inclusive plan, big cities must plan for considerable restructuring if they wish to successfully execute their plans.” Through the ‘Tequila Espíritu de México’ project, the city has been able to showcase how a small town can serve as a blank canvas for the implementation of smart technologies. De Arteaga points out that the project has been able to successfully integrate health services, transportation, security, social services, energy, and water management, and roll it out across the whole of Tequila. This means that all departments share data and information and this enables the city to predict future needs.

De Arteaga admits that this project has been made possible thanks to the contribution of other private players, one of which is IBM, a noted industry leader in advanced technologies and design of smart cities worldwide. “IBM helped improve the transportation system in Sweden and the security system in Atlanta. It even established a Network Operations Center in Rio de Janeiro to manage everything related to natural disasters in the city,” he adds. 

Tequila offers a promising opportunity for IBM to deploy its entire range of solutions due to the size and population of the town, “Tequila serves as a comprehensive model for IBM and the government, which they can then replicate across different municipalities in Mexico.”

Technology is a key foundation for all smart cities since it is an enabler of Big Data, mobility, traceability, and connectivity. “It allows us to better understand Tequila’s visitors, where they come from, how many days they stayed, their interests, and overall experience,” De Arteaga explains. The project also ensures the inclusion of residents, businesses, and local government by creating the Integrated Development Council of Tequila (CODIT). “The objective of the CODIT is to ensure a sustainable, structured, competitive, and inclusive urban development by aiding in the training of various fields, and to establish the city as the heart of Agave culture.” This project aims to improve living conditions of locals and create sustainable opportunities for local businesses.

“Cooperation between the private and public sector is crucial because they are ultimately mutually dependent,” De Arteaga asserts. Grupo JB worked hand in hand with Tequila’s municipality to design the urban planning project for 2040. “The plan was then approved by the local population and the communities are aware of the changes the town is about to undergo.” When smart technologies are integrated into the fabric of a city, the community understands that this represents a great opportunity for the population and investors alike. “This is the beauty of the project: everybody benefits from the initiative.”