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Guadalajara Charts its Smart-City Course

In envisioning its transformation into a “smart city,” Guadalajara started with its strengths—among them, an unusually large and strong network of colleges and universities, a high-tech community so vibrant that the city is regarded as “Mexico’s Silicon Valley” and a distinctive and historic city center that throbs with the life of theater-, museum- and restaurant-goers.

Through the Ciudad Creative Digital (CCD) project, Guadalajara is striving to build on those assets and turn itself into one of the world’s leading centers of digital creation. Development has commenced on a 40-hectare area of downtown, to create a socially integrated urban environment that attracts and keeps some of the world’s brightest minds in advertising, gaming, film, TV and other areas of digital-media innovation. Eventually, Guadalajara’s CCD project would expand to cover 380 hectares and to leverage information and communications technologies in inventive ways to improve other areas of the city’s infrastructure and services.

It’s all part of a proactive, comprehensive strategy embraced by the city’s leaders to seize the opportunities presented by Guadalajara’s differentiating characteristics and the brand-new possibilities created by revolutionary technology innovations in areas such as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the smart grid, e-health and augmented reality. In this light, Guadalajara is a global leader in its forward lean into its smart-city future. But, of course, standing still is really not a viable option. With about 1.5 million people, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city, and, like other cities around the world, it is under pressure to figure out how to accommodate and adapt for a projected boom in its population over the next decades. The United Nations predicts that the number of people living in cities worldwide will nearly double by 2050, and cities are already home to half of the world’s population.

In anticipation of so many more people straining systems for food, water, energy, transportation, housing, healthcare, etc., what can cities do today to ensure that their residents enjoy a clean, safe, pleasant and prosperous environment in which to live, work and play tomorrow? The IEEE Smart Cities Initiative was created precisely to help cities address questions just like this one—and to help each other to do so. The world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity, IEEE numbers more than 430,000 members in more than 160 countries.

Their expertise spans the gamut of existing and emerging technologies that municipalities will leverage in their evolution to smart cities, and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) provides a democratic platform for globally open development of standards in such technology areas. For example, IEEE P2413 “Draft Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT)” is under development to define an architectural framework that would be designed to promote cross-domain interaction, aid system interoperability and functional compatibility and fuel the growth of the IoT market. In March 2014, IEEE announced the launch of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative to avail municipalities to strategic and practical education and expertise and to facilitate collaboration among the world’s smart-city builders on the technological and behavioral innovations that the future will demand.

IEEE plans to provide investment and assistance to 10 selected municipalities in developed and developing markets through 2016, and Guadalajara was selected as the first participating city. “Guadalajara was an ideal candidate for the inaugural pilot and an excellent model for future projects,” said Gilles Betis, chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative, in an IEEE press release. Every municipality undergoing the smart-city transition is different.

For example, beyond the development of the historic city center into a hub of digital creation, the CCD team in Guadalajara is concentrating its attention on its cities’ future needs in public transportation and parking, waste collection, safety and security, telecommunications, the economy, the environment, government operations and citizen involvement. Not every municipality will prioritize its challenges and opportunities in smart-city evolution in the same way. And yet there are common elements on which the world’s smart-city stakeholders can share lessons learned. For example, cities traditionally have different departments focusing on different problems (transportation, health, education, public security, etc.)

A lack of efficient information sharing among those departments results in substantial waste of resources because of a lack of coordination. Technological and behavioral innovations will help smart cities connect, analyze and optimize processes and better adapt for the needs of their citizens.

The IEEE Smart Cities Initiative provides the global, open forum for Guadalajara and its neighbors around the world to collaborate and share information on issues such as these, which will only grow in importance as the population of our cities swells.

By: Kathleen Wolf Davis | Dr. Victor M. Larios

Dr. Victor M. Larios holds a full professor-researcher position at the University of Guadalajara, Department of Information Systems at the CUCEA Campus. He is also the chair of the IEEE Smart City Initiative Pilot in Guadalajara, Mexico.  

Kathleen Wolf Davis's picture

Thank Kathleen for the Post!

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