Smart Cities for Tackling the PandemicBy Alejandro Ehrenberg | Wed, 04/01/2020 - 12:02
A smart city is one where stakeholders are linked together through digital technology to their benefit. For the second edition of a study that already is authoritative in the field, Easy Park, a parking company, “analyzed 500 cities worldwide for a total of 24 factors and ranked the Top 100 to determine the cities that manage their assets and resources most efficiently.” The Smart Cities Index 2019 did not include any Mexican or Latin American cities in the ranking.
In an interview for Mexico Business News, Santiago Echeveste, VP of Contracting, Systems and Refrigeration at Johnson Controls, sheds light on Mexican cities’ slowness to smarten up: “Smart Cities is a new concept in Mexico. It requires teamwork with the government and an alignment of policies. The user, government and private sector need to collaborate and work together to achieve the desired new way of life. But Smart Cities also pose challenges. An infrastructure for a strong wireless network must be built. I think the government is moving slowly in this direction.”
In normal times, a smart city can make its inhabitants’ life easier, cleaner and more predictable. In extraordinary situations, as the one COVID-19 has presently unleashed, increased urban connectivity and the data it provides to improve decision-making can be crucially useful. Ian Kelman, Professor of Disasters and Health at UC London, elaborates on this point: “The Earth has long posed dangers to humans. We know this, so it is up to us to deal with it. When we are vulnerable to nature, it is because societal actions set people up to be harmed by nature. As we cannot blame nature for disasters, we should avoid the phrase natural disaster. They are just disasters.”
Indeed, smart initiatives to deal with the pandemic are already being carried out in cities around the world. A case in point is Boston. As reported by Smart Cities World, the city has launched two dashboards that allow residents to track the number of COVID-19 cases in the city and throughout Massachusetts. Mayor Marty Walsh said to the aforementioned organization: "Ensuring residents have accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19 is critical during this challenging time. These dashboards are another resource for residents to gather information and stay informed as we follow public health guidelines to keep ourselves and each other safe."