Smarten Up: Mexico Lags In Smart RankingsTue, 11/06/2018 - 09:56
Global trends are pushing cities to become smart, not only to tackle energy consumption but also to improve quality of life. “A Smart City is one that achieves harmony and efficiency between its inhabitants and suppliers,” says Javier Cordero, President and Director General of Oracle Mexico. In the 2017 Smart Cities Index issued by the EasyPark Group, two Mexican cities squeezed into the Top 100: Monterrey and Mexico City.
From a demographic perspective, cities are urban settlements with more than 100,000 inhabitants. The world has around 1,961,969 cities, but only a tiny percentage can be considered smart. The EasyPark Group, a parking services company, annually scans the world looking for the 100 Smartest Cities. Mexico made the list but the country and its Latin American counterparts clearly have a long way to go to climb the rankings. Together, the region had just eight cities on the list, all in the bottom third. The two Mexican entries were at No. 98 (Monterrey) and 100 (Mexico City). To smarten up, Mexico’s government, citizens and private sector should embrace and implement technology that improves life quality. “Smart Cities require IoT, the Cloud and Big Data,” says Cordero. “IoT is fundamental, since every element of the city must be connected to send information to the cloud. All these data become Big Data and must be analyzed to obtain intelligence and thus make cities more efficient.”
Understanding the importance of internet connectivity, Mexico launched a Telecommunications Reform in 2014. Two projects stand at its core: the Backbone Network and the Shared Network. The former’s tender was postponed to March 2019 from November 2018 to provide certainty to investors that the project would start during AMLO’s administration. The latter already completed it first phase in March 2018 and covers 32.2 percent of the population and 25 percent of the country’s Pueblos Mágicos with 4G LTE bandwidth connectivity. Advancing connectivity projects like the Shared Network is the first step to becoming smart. “This is the definition of a Smart City, to effectively link multiple players with technology to their benefit,” says Uriel Torres, Director of Sales and Corporate Relations of SITA. The second step, according to Marco Vigueras, Country Senior Officer for Mexico of Nokia, is a shared approach. “Today, Smart Cities and technology require a collaborative perspective,” he says. “To develop it, all the players involved – operators, suppliers and government, among others – must work together.”
The EasyPark Smart Cities Index focuses on transport mobility, sustainability, governance, innovation economy, digitalization and high living standards as the main axis for any Smart City planning. The organization analyzed more than 500 cities and measured how developed they were in terms of these factors to rank the Top 100. Copenhagen, Singapore, Stockholm, Zurich and Boston lead the list. In Latin America, Panama, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are the only countries included, the latter just making the cut. Monterrey was ranked the 98th smartest city with a 3.54/10 score, while Mexico City took No. 100 with a 3.19/10 average. Monterrey was best-ranked for its environment protection and worst for its urban planning, scoring 8.88/10 and 1.0/10 respectively. The same categories marked Mexico City's top and bottom, with 8.10/10 and 1.0/10.
As for the rest of Mexico, secondary cities are growing with the goal of achieving smartness. Gustavo Paredes, Director General of Schindler Mexico, believes the key is to continuously improve the efficiency of how people move as cities grow. “Mexico City continues to be the epicenter of verticalization and Smart City developments,” he says. “But we see a significant amount of activity in secondary cities, such as Guadalajara, Monterrey and Cancun. Cities such as Leon, San Luis Potosi and Tijuana are also markets to watch.”