The smart city is a concept has become well-known for major cities around the world, which has also brought the attention of cities in Latin America. This theory implies an efficient scheme in the administration of different factors such as people, governance, mobility, quality of life, environment and economy. However, to be able to define the concept of Smart city, in the first place it is necessary to conclude that other similar notions share properties of the smart cities and should not be confused. According to the above, it is relevant to distinguish concepts such as digital cities, intelligent cities and Smart Cities.Digital cities are a virtual extension of the city with a robust and excellent ICT infrastructure and the use of ICT-based applications. They also have elements focused on democratic participation, social cohesion and economic development. However, the components of digital cities are limited to its ICT infrastructure or digital networks and software-based applications.
As an intermediate concept between digital cities and Smart cities, intelligent cities arises. Under this idea, these are real cities with learning environments and spaces for innovation and collaboration that recognises urban development and transformation as fundamental pieces of the change. This change reflects on the way of life of the citizens, labour opportunities and recreational activities, the sustainability of the city and also seek to solve different problems that may arise.Despite the above, Smart cities go further. They involve elements of the intelligent cities, plus, the socio-organisational and institutional infrastructure for supporting the specific policy domains and the mechanisms of governance for integrating solutions to the issues in different fields. Therefore, the meaning of Smart City marks the difference between the concept of digital cities and intelligent cities. Different authors have defined the Smart Cities highlighting various elements such as sustainability and the use of ICT in different aspects to seek solutions to improve their development. Smart cities involve the use of innovation and the use of ICT, taking into account several factors concerning six pillars or dimensions.
Although different authors have proposed multiple definitions, the concept of Smart Cities must be not limited only urban, technology, environment, etc., leaving aside the rest of the circumstances that involve the city. The Smart Cities aim to give a new approach to urban management where all the aspects are treated with the interconnection that takes place in real life, improving not only part of the urban ecosystem.
Infrastructure plays a fundamental role and technology, is what allows this to be possible, but it is the combination, connection and integration of all these systems that are fundamental for a city to be considered Smart. The concept implies a balance between technology, economy and social factors that involve the urban ecosystem, taking into account the problems of the city proposing solutions taking advantage of new technologies so that the urban model and the relationships between stakeholders can be redefined. Following the above, the concept of Smart City includes the centralised and focused use that considers urban problems from the perspective of its citizens and their needs.
The commitment of its inhabitants in the functioning of the city and facing new challenges is essential for this type of cities, which implies an innovation factor. The innovation factor explains why Smart cities are different from others and concepts that only seek to improve an element a city has, that is to say, improve just the human, technology or environmental factors. ICT-based solutions are the differentiating element and confer potential to a Smart City, however, deploying expensive technologies in the city without being well focused is only a misunderstanding of the concept. At the same time, the construction of Smart strategies must be carried out based on the multi-stakeholder municipally-based partnership, and the solutions for the city must have inclusive approaches.A Smart city is an integrated system where human and social capital interacts using ICT technology-based solutions that seek to achieve economic development, efficiency and sustainability. All this accompanied by a high quality of life-based in a multistakeholder, municipality partnership, with a strong tendency to improve aspects such as people, quality of life, governance, economy, environment and mobility.
It must also encourage the participation of the citizens towards innovation and the application of that creativity in the solution of the problems of the city for achieving its development.Derived from the concept and definition of Smart City the six pillars (Smart People, Smart Governance, Smart Mobility, Smart Environment, Smart Economy and Smart living) performs a fundamental role since they include their characteristics to a city. Concerning Smart Cities, taking into account these pillars, the author concludes that the central pillar is Smart people. The people are the fundamental raw material for the development of the capacities of a smart city, from them all the progress that implies the education and the continuous training of the people begins. The technological developments, employment, economic growth and many other factors that collaborate to make a competitive city are its people.
Under the concept of Smart Cities, the advantage is taken using ICT to achieve higher and better quality education, continuous improvement, guiding these people to pursue SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, Relevant and Timely).Creativity and innovation come from human capital, which results in smart strategies and solutions for solving the city’s problems. There is a focus towards education and leadership; people are the protagonists of a city that is formed and develops through continuous interaction that at the same time helps to achieve accessible business initiatives for all citizens.The social and intellectual infrastructure and social capital are the necessary resources for a Smart city, allowing people to connect and create relationships. These people are the ones who create and benefit from social resources and that is where the combination of education and continuous training, culture and art, and business and commerce are achieved.
Smart people have been identified as a crucial subject since they help to improve the collective intelligence built to support the exchange of information and collaboration. They serve as an adequate domain for practical treatment and experimentation where the outcomes of the solutions can be measured at low cost and are aligned with the digital strategy of the city, especially for the improvement and quality of education. Besides, citizen participation is a fundamental determinant in the implementation of the “Smart Cities” program with the technological infrastructure.
This pillar also involves creativity identified as an element in the concept of smart cities, but which is a product of the people, and that is the reason why people, education, learning and knowledge are an essential nucleus for the development of a city. From the smart people pillar, others stand to a certain extent, that is where everything comes from and begins, in other words, human capital. It can be seen how Smart Governance is impacted since it implies the participation of the citizens in the Smart policies and their adoption, the solution of the city’s problems, the inclusion, etc. Solutions derived from innovation can be seen in Smart mobility since its development would entail in turn in Smart environment policies which necessarily will be displayed in the quality of life of people living, this is Smart living, all of which ultimately increase the economic prosperity of the city that is the Smart economy. This shows how the Smart people dimension impacts others, and that’s why this pillar is fundamental and constitutes the more important element of smart cities.Regarding the digital economy, currently due to advances in technology and how many transactions are carried out, the tendency for the digital economy and the real economy to become one is a fact. The digital economy is an ecosystem that includes goods, products and services in platforms and solutions offered to the public based on ICT, based on internet connection and online access.
ITC and the internet have become important factors to support economic growth in industrialised and developing countries giving results such as increased investment and infrastructure. Another effect of economic development implies the alignment of technological advances in ICT, digitalisation and connectivity, which combined offer platforms that provide conventional and new services that cover a wide range, from telecommunications to online consumption.These effects are also attributable to the ability of the technology to collect, store and disseminate information, without considering the transmission of knowledge inherent in these processes and the way in which this information is used productively, which implies an outstanding pillar in the economic growth.The convergence of powerful and relatively inexpensive technologies and ubiquitous has accelerated the possible transactions, application and the potential of new business opportunities. ICTs provides a higher degree of transparency in operations, lower transaction costs and increase competition, which it translates to the benefit of consumers since they have a more significant range of services and goods.The fast development of the economy in Smart cities thanks to the integration of ICT and urban infrastructure improves the efficiency of public services, increases the creation of new methods for offering goods and services providing which also encourages the updating of economic models. The Smart Cities facilitate the transformation of the operations that were done in more traditional ways which also allows solving the problems that arise from this conventional form of making transactions.
Smart cities have developed a new technique of generating value for the different stakeholders of these cities.Smart Cities constitutes a vast opportunity for economic and social growth as they improve the quality of life of citizens through the provision of services such as mobility, resources, environment, governance, security among many others, services that together constitute the primary objective that guides the transformation of cities.Taking all the above into consideration, Medellín began its transformation from a traditional city to an intelligent city thanks to the measures adopted in 2007, which with subsequent government and development plans was consolidated as an objective for the city.
The Medellín Digital program, established in the 2008 development plan, equipped 182 Institutions and official educational centres as Digital-Schools. An equivalent of 60.22% of coverage of the city was reached. In the city 100% of the institutions have access to the Internet via optic fibre, 168 bodies have been appropriate with the traditional model and 79 evolved to the innovative model called Schools in the Cloud. The Educational Institutions then had 19,873 computers, and as a complement to these learning environments, school libraries were equipped with the acquisition of 202,948 titles represented in 525,964 copies. Medellín has invested significant efforts in its transformation, which although initially taken from the digital point of view, has included various areas such as education, innovation and entrepreneurship. Under this development plan, particular attention has been given to education, a fundamental aspect to begin the transformation of Medellin into a smart city.
The effort to integrate ICT in education at all levels, shows a high investment in people, taking the first step to be considered as the main of the six pillars of Smart Cities, this is Smart people.This transformation continued in a more concrete way for the city, with the development plan corresponding to the years 2012 to 2015 that established the program of Medellin Smart City. Medellin Smart City has had four areas of work: innovation and services, content and public communication, ownership and connectivity. Its objective was to improve the quality of life of citizens through access to more and better information about their environment, the empowerment of the necessary tools to transform their realities and the ability to find appropriate solutions to the problems of the city, using the tools available and decreasing the environmental impact.
The Program deployed six Smart City services: the MyMedellin citizen co-creation Platform; the Learning Community Service for entrepreneurship; the first information service about city procedures; the design and development of the new digital city public agenda; the Smart City website; and the general Site of contents and services. Concerning connectivity, as a result of the strategies adopted in the different secretariats and their programs, to expand the coverage of free public access to the Internet in the city, a 42% growth was obtained, for a total of 563 connected spaces.The program achieved the coverage of public spaces with free access to the internet in the 16 communes and five districts, in addition to this has been achieved through digital literacy processes to different audiences, highlighting those with the most significant digital divide. , such as adults over 50, people with disabilities and victims of armed conflict. All this has allowed an estimated 59% of the population of Medellín to use the Internet to improve their quality of life and relate better to their environment.
Likewise, four applications were made that seek to support the city’s processes and to facilitate access to information by citizens. These apps were: App for the public at the Book and Culture Festival, App for commercial reservations at the Fiesta del book and Culture, the Virtual catalogue of procedures and services, and free internet map of the city of Medellin.During the four-year period, the functioning of the different portals established in the baseline was maintained except for www.
medellindigital.gov.co, in total nine new portals in operation in 2012 and 2015 in the following themes: Health, Education, Mobility, Technology, Environment, Recreation and sports, Safety and coexistence, Culture and Entrepreneurship. These portals replaced the one mentioned above, as well as those of Culture E and Medellín Culture, reaching 15 city portals, which allowed to surpass the goal established in the Development Plan.The Intelligent City Medellín Program received in recognition the Guangzhou International Award in 2012 for Urban Innovation, as one of the 20 most important initiatives in the world, among more than 250 proposals from all continents, highlighting the actions that It implements the strategy to improve the quality of life of citizens through ICT appropriation, the reduction of the digital gap and the creation of contents around education, culture and entrepreneurship.The Free Internet model of Medellin is today a benchmark for all of Colombia and Latin America, and thanks to the joint work of the Mayor’s Office of Medellín and the Smart City Medellín program in 2015, the city was awarded the Ibero-American Digital Cities Prize awarded by the Inter-American Association of Telecommunications Companies (ASIET) in the Infrastructure category.In terms of governance, line 5 ‘Legality, legitimacy and institutionality for life and equity, included: Good Governance and Transparency; Participating Society, seeking to invigorate spaces for citizen participation; The City talks and articulates with the region, is oriented to the promotion of articulated and equitable development within the framework of sustainability and territorial competitiveness; and the Medellin Smart City program sought to transform Medellín from a digital city to an intelligent city through technological and social innovation at the service of the citizen’s quality of life. The Good Governance and Transparency component, with an investment of 60% of the resources executed on Line 5, evidences the effort made by the Administration in matters such as the modernization of the city’s administrative structure, the service to citizens, as well as the transparency and monitoring, monitoring and evaluation of public policies.
The Participating Society component was also an important focus for the prioritisation of resources during the 2012-2015 period, reaching 37% of the total investment of Line 5. For its part, the Smart City Medellin component, with an investment of 2% of resources, promoted essential issues such as the use and appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), as well as connectivity and innovation for citizen’s digital inclusion. The component The city talks and articulates with the region, represented 0.4% of the investment of line 5, through projects for the articulated management of the regional territory.
To promote a closer government and in an exercise of permanent accountability, the Digital Communication Strategy of the Mayor’s Office of Medellín establishes a necessary work on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Instagram, which is today an example in Latin America.For all these achievements, Medellín has been recognized as one of the cities that is leading the transformation in smart territories in Latin America: In 2012 the Smart City Medellín program was chosen as one of the twenty most relevant strategies in urban innovation issues in the World at the International Guanghzhou Prize (China). The city was also selected as a finalist in the World Awards for the Information Society, thanks to its work on the MyMedellín platform, the first online citizen participation service with social interaction developed and put into operation by a Municipal Administration in Colombia.The Medellín Smart city program emerges as a strategy based on the provision of digital services and Internet connectivity, empowerment of citizens and generation of content, which has as fundamental pillars open government, citizen participation, social innovation and sustainability, as well as an active knowledge management component.Improving the way of life of Medellín’s citizens through the use, appropriation and transformation, using the Information and Communication Technologies is the principal objective of the program. The ICT strategy all aims to bring the most vulnerable communities in the city to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) through training processes adapted to their needs, expectations and desires.The connectivity project purpose is enabling spaces in the city that allow free access to information and communication technologies, for which three models were implemented: Public Spaces with free Wi-Fi internet access; Mobile classroom and Navigation Points.
It is worth mentioning some acknowledgements received by this Program, such as the Colombia Online Award for the best informative site awarded in 2012 to the Medellin Culture Portal or the honourable mention in the CIPA Journalism Awards of 2015 that highlighted the quality of the special Women without barrier published on the Program’s website. In 2015 Medellín Smart city received the Ibero-American prize for digital cities in the infrastructure category with its free internet project, which is added to other recognitions, such as being part of the final selection of the Latin American Mercocities meeting with the ICT experience for all.Medellín took the first step by becoming a digital city and then take action further towards a more profound transformation in a Smart city in later years.Medellin in its digital program not only included aspects of this type but an improvement of other elements such as the quality of education and life of citizens, which led to its transformation aimed at a Smart city that encompassed the six fundamental pillars that characterise them although. Observing the different development plans, Medellín has sought its transformation in the medium term and has focused its efforts on education and on improving the quality of life of citizens, but it has focused on the issue of mobility.
For this, it has opted for the inclusion of expert companies in the management of the control centre, technological infrastructure and optimisation and management software. The above is reflected in the quality of life of citizens as it facilitates the administration of procedures making them more efficient, has promoted road safety education, which has grown proportionally to the Smart City objectives.The path chosen by the city of Medellín for its transformation has not been simple. The bureaucratic and administrative procedures for the integration of other entities for the operation have been slow due to the conclusion of the inter-administrative agreements, added to the problematic achievement of financial resources which has prevented some bodies from playing a more forceful role in this transformation.The number of vehicles in the city has increased, which concerning mobility and transit management plays a fundamental role, so the Traffic control centre is a fundamental pillar that integrates information and the extensive and intensive application of ICT, becoming a model solution for this region and the country.
Taking into account that the pillar of mobility has been crucial for the transformation of Medellín, the entire integrated mass transport system, this is metro, tram, vehicular routes with buses and metrocable, have become an excellent solution for the inhabitants of the city and its communes. It can be observed how this system, which is very well organized, optimizes the quality of life of the inhabitants of the city. They are widely used systems, which has made it possible to reduce the pollution caused by the use of private vehicles.Due to the periods of government and the plans established in each period the program does not have a homogeneous continuity. Unfortunately, every four years, the development plans proposed due to the entry of new governments do not allow continuity to the previously established program, which often does not give the expected results together with the necessary bureaucratic procedures. However, Medellín has achieved a substantial transformation concerning the six pillars that characterise a Smart city.
Medellín is a Smart city under construction. Its programs have incorporated the six pillars, some developed and implemented to a greater extent than others, but step by step has been working on different measures that will allow it to continue with the progress it has achieved and in the long term to become a fully implemented smart city.