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By Federico de Arteaga - Tequila Inteligente
Member of the Technical Committee of the Council for Integral Development of Tequila (CODIT)


By Federico De Arteaga | Head of Project - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 13:55

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Academically and technologically, the topic of smart cities is many years old. Its implementation, however, is quite new and the promised intelligence has not yet been seen holistically. While

much progress has been made, city intelligence is still a niche implementation.

From large technological deployments to the bet on non-technological intelligence, the reality of implementation has been more complex than expected, forcing a review of many initial postulates. Above all, expectations and perceptions have changed for each of the stakeholders. The feeling is that everyone has revalued smart cities, and everyone is missing something.

From the academic point of view: There is a gap between definition and implementation. Which city are we talking about? The “Happy City,” the “Smart,” the "Smart Enough," the "Rebel,” the "Fast," the "Compact,” the "Slum" each conceptual framework seeks a different city and provides greater institutionalism and a relationship between academia and projects. There are cities that have defined different methodologies: Amsterdam uses the Doughnut Economy model, Vienna the Urban Menu, Bogota and Medellin have adopted Intelligent Tourist Destinations.

From the point of view of the public sector:Is it the city for which the funds are given, is it the soon-to-be "carbon neutral," does the public sector generate prevention models, does it improve governance, does it have a strategy of citywide approaches? For example, in Europe, cities have received support from the European Union for the implementation of "Smart Cities," which conditions the models to be applied. Also, the fact that the initiative is practically 100 percent public has not allowed the necessary involvement of the private sector.

From the third sector and local leaders' point of view:Does the promised intelligence really improve their causes, does it generate the expected benefits, does it generate a sense of belonging, does it improve social sustainability? In this sense, Tequila, in Mexico, has granted itself a very effective governance instrument: the Council for the Integral Development of Tequila (CODIT), which is a sounding board for what is happening in the destination and a space for effective participation of all stakeholders.

From the point of view of the private sector:Does it facilitate business models for economic sustainability, is the private sector involved enough to invest in the long term? Without business models, there is no economic sustainability: the private sector can provide support through corporate social responsibility actions but those must be compensated with profitability. The incursion of the private sector has been mainly in the provision of technological solutions but they have not seen enough opportunities.

From the people's point of view:People are not moved by abstractions but by realities. The fact of having connectivity, more efficient and lower-cost services, real and perceived security, lighting, accessibility and a circular economy makes them believe, or disbelieve.

What Has Worked So Far?

What has really worked from the technological point of view are connectivity, big data, control centers, video surveillance, reduction of the technological gap, analytics, and solutions for mobility, waste collection, digital payment of services, banking, integrated platforms, geolocation and efficiency elements in some systems. There has also been an improvement in the virtual relationship with citizens and the systematization of social networks for better analysis, which some destinations have called "the pulse of the city."

Another area in which it has worked is the consideration of things in real time, making real time “tangible,” or the possibility of managing permanently while things are happening without necessarily being reactive. It is a mix of prevention, estimation, projection and reaction.

The challenge is to integrate these solutions into a system, and into the whole space of the city. Without impacts and without real results that are systemic, well communicated, academically validated and highlighted by the population, demonstrating efficiency in public management and generating business and achieving sustainability – not of declaration but of realization – it will be impossible to advance on this path.

The success of a city means it will need to transition into achieving a livable and visitable city, with people proud of their place and with an attractive differential reading for each person and each stakeholder.

Photo by:   Federico de Arteaga

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