Clark's Remarks

Smart Cities: Bringing Together Technology, Government, and Society


If asked to name the city in North America that has more than 20 universities offering engineering and technology curricula, is home to more than 100 software companies and computer manufacturers (including such household names as Intel and Oracle), and graduates some 7,000 engineers a year, how would you answer? Your first guess, like mine, might be somewhere in Silicon Valley, maybe San Jose or Palo Alto, Calif. The correct answer, however, is Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-most-populous city, which has been selected for the Ciudad Creativa Digital (CCD) smart-city development project.

According to the IEEE Smart Cities initiative, a smart city brings together technology, government, and society to enable:

  • A smart economy.
  • Smart mobility.
  • A smart environment.
  • Smart people.
  • Smart living.
  • Smart governance.

IEEE says approximately 3.6 billion people live in cities and that by 2050 that number will reach 6.3 billion. Interestingly, over 50 percent of urbanization involves cities with populations of less than 500,000. Clearly, this will provide significant opportunities for economic growth; however, it also will impose significant challenges on cities dealing with increased crime rates and pollution levels. According to IEEE, the infrastructure improvements required to cope with that increase in population will cost $10 trillion by 2025.

In an effort to provide sustainable environments and offer citizens a high quality of life, Guadalajara began its CCD project last October in a downtown area it calls the Digital Hub. This area is expected to expand nearly tenfold. As a smart city, Guadalajara plans to bring together technology, government, and society to make buildings more energy-efficient; update aging infrastructure, including power grids, public transportation systems, and roads; integrate various government services and departments; and use social media to communicate with residents. Guadalajara’s CCD master plan, created by a team that includes engineers from MIT working with local engineers and engineering students, will use information and communication technologies to achieve those goals. Because of that, the city has been selected as the pilot for the IEEE Smart Cities initiative.

Of course, smart cities are not limited to Latin America. IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge has provided grants to help make several cities “smarter.” These include Barcelona, Spain; Da Nang, Vietnam; Edmonton, Canada; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where I am based. Fort Lauderdale is using its grant to keep its crime rate low by allowing local law enforcement to analyze a variety of relevant data, including emergency-response call records, crime statistics, and event information. By working with real-time data and advanced predictive models, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) hopes to gain a better understanding of what factors contribute to crime so it can predict when and where to deploy officers. According to the FLPD, since the project’s inception, there has been a decrease in violent and property crimes in the city.

Smart money says all of our cities should be smart cities. Talk to your local officials.

TAGS: Archive
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.