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Smart Cities Series: What Puts the “City” In Smart City Solutions?

By - Dec 14 2016


What puts the “City” in Smart City Solutions? We posed this question to Jorge Vargas of NEC Corporation, whose work with Smart Cities has allowed him to cultivate a deep understanding of and appreciation for the role of cities in development. In this third installment and final of our Smart Cities series, Mr. Vargas zeroes in on the value of the metropolis itself in bringing innovation and improved quality of life to the people.

IDB: NEC is an innovative technology company, but you focus on more than just your bottom line. How does NEC perceive its role in development?

NEC: In its 100 years in business, NEC has always focused on technology and innovation. Yet in the past few years we have reimagined our focus and placed an even greater emphasis on how we can generate value for society. We do this by focusing on the four primary pillars of safety, security, equality, and the environment in which we operate. While these efforts already involve a great deal of technology—everything from information technology, to energy technology, and more—in the next 20-30 years we believe that technology will be defined by how it improves quality of life for people everywhere. That’s how NEC fits into the development puzzle—by  developing technologies that are not only innovative, but that also generate some benefit for society at large.


IDB: From NEC’s perspective, why is the city an important vehicle for advancing development?

NEC: Citizens, to the extent that they participate in their communities and interact with governments, are often closest to city leadership. Most of their needs are channeled through and addressed by the municipality. And while the role of the traditional city has focused predominantly on managing municipal resources, the city of the future has an even more important part to play in development, responding to citizen needs in such areas as security services, health, and more. NEC sees the critical nature of this relationship between the city and the citizen, so we’re working actively through various initiatives to understand the challenges faced by cities and identify the solutions they need to more effectively improve quality of life.

This is where the concept of Smart Cities comes in. Smart Cities are more than just a technological solution—they are the belief that in considering environment and society, cities can become engines for improved quality of life and economic growth. Given the proximity of the city to the people, in focusing our efforts at the municipal level, we can accomplish more in the short-term, implementing technologies and solutions that stand to make a positive difference for communities. While we can work at the national and regional level on the platforms and back office efforts needed to truly make a difference, the city is an actor that must be at the table.


IDB: Is it important to invest time and resources in Smart City-related knowledge sharing efforts?

Smart Cities are a new concept that is defined by differing ideas and models. That’s why knowledge sharing is essential in the spaces. By hearing the lessons learned by city actors around the world, we come one step closer to implementing Smart City solutions that really work.



ABOUT JORGE VARGAS: Jorge is Head of the NEC Latin America Regional Competence Center, and Global Leader for Surveillance Solutions. He is an Electronic Engineer from UTN FRBA (Universidad Tecnológica Nacional de Buenos Aires) and joined NEC in 1985 engaged in Custom Care, Software Development, Marketing, and International Sales. Jorge was COO of Global View, contributing to provide solutions in the areas of Safety, Security, Efficiency and Equality. Jorge has strong focus developing technological solutions in order to improve the life quality of citizens and ensure public order.
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