Last November, Rio de Janeiro was welcomed as the “invited city” to the Smart City Expo in Barcelona, and with that came a chance to share our experiences as one of the most amazing and challenging cities in the world. We also hoped to do a bit of benchmarking of our own and lean from others’ successes. This kind of opportunity is not trivial.
The United Nations estimates that 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050. In Latin America, this figure has already reached 80 per cent. Such concentration generates colossal daily challenges. To address them, mayors around the world must transform their municipalities into smart cities.
With regard to Rio, two founding pillars are supporting this effort. The first is the employment of technology in the service of our citizens. The Rio Operations Centre is the most relevant example of this push. Since 2010, it has monitored the city 24/7, taking care of public transportation, traffic, weather forecasting, civil defense and so on.
Our second pillar is building partnerships with other cities to exchange experiences and agree on commitments for change. C40, a network of major cities such as London, Berlin and Tokyo convenes in an effort to promote the reduction of carbon emissions and strengthen urban resilience. Since December, I inherited the honour of chairing this group, succeeding the former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.
That Rio was elected World Smart City in Barcelona and that the C40 chair was bestowed upon us are strong indications that we are on the right path – we are finally becoming more efficient in facing our challenges. Now we are setting ourselves a new mission: to build a third pillar. Smart cities are those in which the population participates in the decision making process and in the search for solutions. We want to open up our information channels for all those who want to help improve Rio.
Mayor of Rio de Janeiro