Este artículo está también disponible en / This post is also available in: Spanish
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the most urbanized regions in the world. However, only a small number of the cities in the region could be considered as ” smart cities”. Nevertheless, many municipalities are working to maximize the potential provided by the use of information and communication technologies to improve the lives of their inhabitants. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as part of its commitment to technological development in the region (as reflected in its Vision 2025), is committed to building more sustainable and intelligent cities capable of addressing problems of mobility, security or climate change, among others.
To achieve this objective, the IDB has developed an innovative methodology that assesses the state of smart maturity of LAC cities in their migration process towards smarter management models. The IDB has not been alone on this task, as it has had the support of Deloitte and cooperation funds from the Government of Spain and the Strategic Development Program for Sustainability.
Today’s blog discusses the methodology developed to help cities identify and understand their Smart maturity levels, as well as the main key success factors cities must follow to turn their municipality into a smart city.
A new methodology to assess the state of smart maturity of our cities
The new methodology was developed considering the reality and context of LAC. Thanks to this, it allows to identify the state of development of our cities to become smart cities and generate benefits for them, facilitating them to:
• Know the level of maturity and state of progress in its transition to a smart city
• Identify areas of opportunity to become a smarter city
• Identify viable investments and smart city projects that can boost cities
• Facilitate access to financing for the development of projects
This innovative smart methodology includes two areas of analysis: dimensions and infrastructure.
• DIMENSIONS: these dimensions define 6 large functional areas through which smart city services are managed: environment, security, education, economy, mobility and lifestyle. In turn, they are divided into subdimensions, and are used to evaluate: the degree of technological adoption in these services, local capacities for the identification, planning and development of projects, and the resilience of the city to provide services.
• INFRASTRUCTURE: refers to the physical and digital technological infrastructures available in the city. This step takes into account the capacity and potential of the city to generate and analyze data and produce useful information that helps to improve the planning and provision of services.
Picture 1: The structure of the methodology
How to evaluate the smart maturity level of a city?
As part of this methodology, it is required that, for each of the dimensions, the capacities of the city to identify, plan, and develop projects are evaluated through the vision and strategy, coordination with other actors, institutional capacities, the legal framework, the city’s ecosystem, and access to financing.
In the same way, it will be necessary to evaluate technological adoption. This parameter can be defined as the level of implementation of projects or technological solutions, or smart city, in public services. Finally, the use of technology to strengthen the resilience of the city will be evaluated through preparedness, response, and recovery actions in the face of contingencies and natural and sanitary emergencies, among others.
To evaluate infrastructure, it is necessary to analyze the existence of each type of infrastructure, its technical capabilities, and the scope of its use in the city.
The methodology collects quantitative (data analysis) and qualitative (interviews) information to carry out this evaluation, so the results provide a numerical score of the current level of maturity of the city. This score is located on a scale of 0 to 5 in 4 levels of smart city development:
Picture 2: Maturity levels as a Smart City by Score
After applying the methodology, cities can identify their level of maturity. After this, they are ready to choose specific projects that allow them to improve their maturity level as a smart city, as well as to formulate a medium-term action plan to implement the projects.
Picture 3: Results generated by the methodology
Applying the methodology in 10 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean
The IDB has implemented this methodology in 10 cities throughout LAC. The outcome has identified that, on average, the evaluated cities present a global maturity of 2.42, placing them in a Level II (intentional) with strengths in infrastructure:
Picture 4: General results of the application in 10 cities in Latin America
Although the 10 cities evaluated had an average physical infrastructure of 2.78 (emerging -level III), and in some cases it was “integral”. This is not reflected in the technological adoption by dimensions, which present an intentional average maturity (level II).
Picture 5: Results of the dimensions and infrastructure
What characteristics must a city have to become a smart city?
After completing the study, the IDB and Deloitte identified common strengths and challenges for the cities evaluated, which are presented below:
• The main strength is the willingness of cities to have not only the smart city concept integrated into their work agendas as an option to improve the planning and provision of public services, but also as an opportunity to modernize the city and boost economic recovery.
• The common challenge in the region is the lack of resources to develop this type of project. For this reason, it is important to define the specific business models for each project, so that they allow the generation of sufficient income to be functional and not only depend entirely on a city budget.
• Similarly, it is identified as a challenge to have physical, digital and data infrastructure and sufficient equipment to be able to develop and support comprehensive smart city projects that cover the entire population. In this line, it was identified that not in all cases data is collected about the provision of services, and when it is collected, it is not always used to perform predictive and / or real-time analysis to improve the services provided to customers. citizens.
Similarly, according to the study, these are some key factors that cities must follow to promote the development of a successful smart city:
• Have the support of the highest level of city government: the support and involvement of the mayor who defines a clear vision of a smart city that is the basis for coordinating and aligning the city’s initiatives.
• Have a solid ecosystem of the private sector, academia, society, and organizations that supports the smart city vision and works in a common front and aligned with the smart city vision. In this sense, the application of the methodology in the 10 cities made it possible to identify that the Ecosystem’s capacities present large areas of opportunity because, although there are different agents of the ecosystem involved in the design and development of projects, sometimes the cities do not collaborate with them. In the cases in which collaborations are identified, it does not always imply the implementation of smart city projects.
Now it’s your city’s turn: the IDB helps you!
To help promote the development of smart cities in the region, the IDB will make this tool available to cities in the region. With this, it is intended that the cities themselves can carry out a self-assessment, and thus, discover their current status, areas of opportunity and potential concrete projects. In addition, they will be able to make updates to measure their progress.
The methodology and its tools are available in the IDB’s digital tools repository, which can be accessed here in Spanish, English and Portuguese:
- Manual in Spanish and tool in Spanish .
- Manual in Portuguese and tool in Portuguese.
- Manual in English and tool in English.
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Authors listed in alphabetical order.