Few concepts are as exciting and transmit such an ability to invent a better future as the intelligent or rather smart city. After all, who could disagree with applying technology in order to make people’s lives safer, more efficient and more sustainable? Who would not defend the use of technology so that public administrations manage better with lower costs and in a way that is more accessible to citizens?
Smart cities in Latin America
Current status of smart cities in Latin America
Latin America is the developing region with the highest urbanization rate on the planet, where 90% of the population is expected to live in megacities by 2050.
Megacities (metropolitan areas with more than 10 million people) have become the focal points of development in Latin America. The evolution of innovation, the concentration of specialized labor, the development of dynamic economies and the provision of educational services, culture and free-time services will all depend on how smart cities develop.
Smart Cities in Latin America focus on several areas of development: environmental sustainability, transportation, jobs, security and competitiveness.
According to the Global Survey on the Status of Smart Cities in 2014 performed by Indra in 32 countries and 234 cities, Medellín and Santiago de Chile are two of the most highly rated urban areas in Latin America.
- Medellín in Colombia is one of the top-rated Latin American cities. All of its services scored equal to or higher than the world averages. The sustainability level is the most highly rated (with a score of 7.8) while the perception of security is the lowest (6.1.) It is the only Latin American city with a time needed to commute to work lower than the world average thanks to the implementation of smart technology to manage traffic and transportation.
- Santiago de Chile in Chile also stands out. The quality of its healthcare service, its e-administration and the cleanliness of the city are all one point above the world average, and only the sustainability ranks below it. In 2012, Chile led the Latin American rankings and was ranked 39th in the world in a survey administered by the United Nations.
However, the majority of large Latin American cities have a long way to go before they become truly smart cities:
- Bogotá in Colombia stands out for its sustainability level compared to the average, but it needs to improve its mobility: more than 1 hour is needed to commute to work on average.
- Sao Paulo in Brazil is facing the major challenge of mobility: people need around 63 minutes for their commute to work. These services are rated quickly negatively, especially healthcare (2.9).
- Rio de Janeiro in Brazil doesn’t make the grade in any services, and healthcare receives the lowest ratings (3) while cleanliness rates the highest (4.3).
- Mexico City in Mexico shows ratings below the world averages in all services. The response to emergencies, healthcare services and cleanliness are rated the lowest (4.2), while sustainability receives the highest scores (4.9).
According to a Study by the Inter-American Development Bank on Megacities and Infrastructure in Latin America, transportation is one of the five main challenges that have to be faced because of its direct correlation with citizens’ quality of life, as it is on par with security and transparency.
More than 30% of the traffic in large cities is made up of vehicles looking for parking. This has repercussions on citizens’ quality of life because of its impact on the time they take to get places, the stress it causes and the emissions it produces. Lowering the average time needed to park a car from 15 to 12 minutes could prevent emissions of 400 tons of CO2 in a city like Barcelona.
Intelligent parking in Latin America
Current status of smart parking in Latin America
One of the main challenges in the region today is being able to commute to work in an urban bus that does not take more than two hours because of serious traffic congestion.
According to Cristian Aguila from Entel, a company that has implemented major projects in the region, “mobility poses huge challenges for both the authorities and citizens in general, and it is a crucial issue in large cities because it has a direct impact on the quality of life of the people living there. Here is where we see that technology can make huge strides in deal with these challenges."
- From the perspective of the user, lowering travel times and allowing them to commute efficiently are the main expectations of the citizens living in these cities in terms of mobility, so it is important to have smart parking solutions.
- From the perspective of the parking manager, the potential benefits are varied, ranging from monitoring fraud due to nonpayment to monitoring infractions due to improper use and changing payment models with time brackets.
- From the perspective of the public administration, the drop in environmental pollution (CO2 emissions) and the strengthening of the local economy by encouraging proper use of the city’s asset also have positive impacts for the city which may be less direct but are no less valuable.
Aspects to take into account when implementing an intelligent parking project in Latin America
- It is important to have a partner that understands the technological and commercial dimension of the project.
- Seek a partner that has backing in the region in order to improve the speed with which the project is implemented and knowledge of the urban infrastructures.
- Do not trust complicated developments and instead choose end-to-end solutions.
- Contact a highly technologically competitive supplier with the highest sensing frequency.
- Installations that are not very invasive for the urban infrastructure pose lower risks when equipment is being installed.
- Ensure that you have the possibility of monitoring and making post-installment adjustments remotely in real time.
Figures on smart parking projects in the Latin American region
Smart parking project with Entel in Chile
The project piloted by Entel in Chile in the city of Las Condes has yielded very positive results in the almost 9 months in which the solution has been implemented.
- The amount of time needed to find parking has dropped almost 20%.
- There have been notable improvements in vehicle commutes.
- High levels of user satisfaction, almost 80%, of the mobile application and variable information panel available.
Smart parking project with Estapar in Brazil
The project implemented by Estapar in Brazil came about because of the need for a solution that would simplify monitoring of parking. The goal was to make the management of the monitors more efficient and to improve vehicles’ accessibility to parking areas.
The solution offered is an end-to end system that provides a comprehensive service:
- Sensor service: 150 U-Spot sensors were installed in the parking places.
- Informative panels.
- Technology management.
- Comprehensive management platform
The main benefits detected are the following:
- The data is gathered in real time, so it can provide information on the availability of parking places in real time, increasing operators’ revenues.
- Efficiency in detecting rotation and occupancy is higher than 98%.
- Estapar achieved total implementation in 2 weeks autonomously.
Urbiotica is a benchmark in intelligent parking solutions with commercial and technology partners all over Latin America. If you want more information, click on the button below.
Urbiotica is a Barcelona-based company specialised in the design and development of latest generation sensing systems which provide real-time information on what is happening in areas of mobility, waste management and environmental monitoring. It currently has projects installed in more than 30 cities.