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News Article

Smart Cities: Smarter, More Sustainable

By Alessa Flores | Tue, 09/29/2020 - 17:06

One out of every nine people in the world dies from air pollution-related diseases, according to WHO data, and approximately 15,000 people die from solid air pollutants each year in Mexico. Pollution has increased in Mexico alongside its population, the number of circulating cars, industrial activity, waste and many other factors. In this reality, transforming cities into smarter, more sustainable concentrations has become an imminent necessity. 

Although there is no universal definition of a smart city, it can be understood as a city that uses digital technology to improve people's lives through greater connectivity, urban planning, access to clean transportation and other faster and lower-cost solutions. These alternatives seek to generate more sustainable, clean and inclusive relationships between people and the environment around them, explains a report on smart cities by McKinsey & Company. 

Unfortunately, there is no city in Mexico that is fully intelligent and the adoption of digital transformation mechanisms varies greatly from state to state. Mexico has various urban problems in terms of public transportation, health services, local economy, education and access to water. According to Deloitte and official government figures, 43 percent of public transportation users in Mexico are not satisfied with the service, 57 percent of the population considers health services to be poor or very poor, 74 percent consider their income insufficient to satisfy their basic needs, 67 percent believe they cannot provide their children with quality education due to economic conditions and 40 percent of water is often wasted in the water system. "This makes our country a fertile ground for smart cities, a beneficial model with a multiplier effect that in the current context takes on special relevance due to the potential it has to improve people's quality of life," explains Eduardo de la Peña, Lead Infrastructure Partner at Deloitte Mexico.

Mexico has several potential cities that could be transformed into smart cities, such as Mexico City, Veracruz, Queretaro, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Merida, Ciudad Juarez, Torreon, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosi, according to a report from Newmark Knight Frank. These cities stand out thanks to their actions to improve mobility, technological infrastructure, energy, transport and urban planning and because of their efficient use of resources through technology.

Singapore, Helsinki and Zurich are the top three "smartest" cities in the world, according to the 2020 Smart City Index published by the Institute for Management Development in collaboration with the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD). For example, Singapore stands out for implementing digital technologies for traffic control that saved drivers up to 60 hours per year. The city also implemented programs for intelligent video surveillance of criminal activities and a program for the elderly to carry out telemedicine consultations. 

Mexico City, the smartest city in the country, has a portfolio of projects that have helped it become more sustainable. Some measures that stand out are the implementation of the bicycle mobility system known as ECOBICI; the option to perform government procedures through apps, such as paying parking meters; the construction of intelligent and green buildings and 13,000 free Wi-Fi spots in public squares, hospitals, museums and schools. 

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Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst