The City of Rio de Janeiro and IBM sign a partnership to turn Rio into a smart city

The city will integrate data and processes of government agencies in a single center of operations        

The municipality of Rio de Janeiro and IBM signed an agreement for the construction of a Center for public information management in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The Rio Operations Center, which will be located in Cidade Nova, will integrate and interconnect the public information of the municipality to improve safety and responsiveness of the city on various types of incidents such as flooding and landslides. The agreement also includes plans to develop a pioneering system called "High Resolution Weather Prediction" - PMAR - that predicts heavy rain with 48 hours notice.

The mission of Rio Operations Center, which opens on December 31, will be to consolidate information from various systems of the municipality to enable real time visualization, monitoring and analysis. The system was initially designed for flood forecasting and related emergencies, but may extend to any act occurring in the city, from incidents in the Reveillon in Copacabana beach, to the fans out of a soccer game at Maracana or a traffic accident. The Centre will allow city leaders to make decisions in emergency situations, based on real time information.

The initiative is part of IBM´s global strategy that aims to develop technologies that help cities function more intelligently. Similar projects have been implemented in New York and in Gauteng (South Africa), but this is the first center in the world to integrate all the stages of crisis management: from forecasting, mitigation and preparedness, immediate response to events and the feedback of the system with new information that can be used in future incidents. Other partners involved in the construction and operation of the Center include Cisco, Cyrela, Facilities, Malwee, Oi and Samsung. The idea is that the center evolves continually and integrates more and more agencies and information sources in the city. "We are creating a great technology platform that soon will compile all incidents and events occurring in the city," said Pedro Almeida, Director of Smart Cities of IBM Brazil.

The PMAR will begin operations in the first half of 2011 and will be key element for Rio Operations Center. The system is based on a unified mathematical model for the city of Rio de Janeiro, which includes the collection of data from the watershed, topographic relief, the town´s historic rains and information from satellites and radars, which will be able to predict the incidence of rain and possible flooding. Both the system and the mathematical model must be calibrated to significantly increase the success rate in relation to the forecast of rain in the city. After detecting the occurrence of rain, potential flooding and modeled system at a later stage, will also be able to assess their impact on vehicle traffic in the city. This is the first project of the ninth global research laboratory of IBM, which recently opened in Brazil.

On 9th and 10th November, Global President of IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, gathered with leaders and experts from around the world in the city to celebrate the Fourth Regional Forum Smart Cities. With special focus on Latin America and the growing markets of the world, IBM will continue the conversation begun in Berlin, New York and Shanghai to discuss how cities can deal with serious situations currently being experienced urban and improve quality of life for its citizens.

Source: one-digital

Internet Governance Forum

The UN General Assembly will soon debate the renewal of the mandate of the Internet Global Forum (IGF), which has its origin in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held, after a long preparatory process of seven years in two phases, Geneva 2003 and Tunis in 2005. The Basque Country took an active part in this process which led to the creation of the international network of local authorities IT4ALL in 2003 and organized the Second World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society in Bilbao in November 2005.

The WSIS was convened to discuss how to reduce inequality in access and use of the Internet and to overcome the global digital divide. However, the discussions centered on how the Internet should be governed, and debated the control of the United States over the domain of the names system. In order to solve this controversy it was created the Working Group on Internet Governance, with the task of defining the outlines of the government of the Network. The Group´s report suggested an innovative idea, compared to the controversy over who should lead the Internet - governments or private sector-, it proposed to foster communication between the different groups involved as the basis for such regulation, this means, the creation of an open platform for political dialogue. This is how the Forum was born.

The IGF has some innovative features that differentiate it from other United Nations meetings. UN meetings are primarily intergovernmental, there is an order of the intervention of representatives of governments and is usually done from a platform. In the IGF there isn´t an established order of interventions and everyone participates on equal conditions. If a civil society representative raises his hand before a representative of a government, he intervenes before. This is because it assumes that everyone has equal opportunities for expressing their views and because the purpose of the Forum is to foster discussion among different groups. Another important feature is that IGF is not required to present a declaration or final document under consensus. It is precisely this lack of obligation which allows a constructive political dialogue between companies, international organizations, civil society and governments. The purpose of the Forum is not to make policy decisions, but to provide guidance on specific issues of Internet governance.

In September took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, the fifth meeting of the IGF under the theme "Building the Future Together." There were about 1.500 attendants from 107 countries and about 2.000 people around the world followed the debates and workshops on the Internet. Issues such as network neutrality, cloud computing, social networks, the balance between security and rights in the context of Information Technologies and Communication Technologies (ICT), Internet governance for development, promotion of access and promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity to make the Internet a more inclusive tool were discussed during this meeting.

Although it is too early to make an assessment of the impact of the Forum, we can draw some interesting conclusions. The first is to reduce the ideological features that conditioned the debate in the World. Although that claim remains, the IGF has addressed the issue from a more pragmatic and operational perspective through the incorporation of the views of the private sector and civil society, significantly different from the approach of governments. It has also helped not having to seek consensus on specific text. The participants have achieved a level of more constructive dialogue in addressing issues that are known in advance that there are divergent views. Thus, the Forum´s discussions have gained in maturity and confidence between the parties.

The mechanism of the IGF has also had a multiplier effect. In recent years there have been created forums in diverse countries and regions in which they address the issues of Internet-centric perspectives local and regional needs. Over the next few years we will witness the proliferation of these forums. At this point the renewed mandate of the Forum depends on the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly. Although almost all participants have advocated the continuation of the IGF and the general feeling is that its mandate should be renewed, it is unclear on what terms it will be.

There are interests from some governments for the IGF to be submitted to UN procedures and a greater governmental control which could influence its open and participatory condition. The recent announcement made by the executive coordinator Markus Kummer, informing that he will no longer continue in office for a second term, generated many uncertainties.

However, one of the most important challenges facing the IGF for the future is to make visible their work to the Internet community and to international society.

Source: El Correo

The Executive Bureau approves the renewal of the Committee for other 3 years

From the 17th to the 20th November 2010 took place in Mexico City, the III World Congress of UCLG "World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders" that gathered more than 2.000 local and regional leaders from all over the world.

One of the main issues to be discussed during the Executive Bureau held on the November 17th was the renewal of mandates   of the Committees and Working Groups of UCLG for the period 2011 - 2013.

In this sense, and after consultation with the Advisory Team and the Committee of Statutory Affaires, the Presidency proposed to the Executive Bureau to recommend to the World Council the renewal of all the Committees and Working Groups that have requested it, for an additional mandate and to prepare the transition towards the transformation and reduction of the Committees and Working Groups. With this, the Committee of Digital and Knowledge-based Cities will be able to continue working for other 3 years to position local governments as leaders in the innovation processes.

The Committee also took the opportunity of the III World Congress to meet with the committee members on the morning of the 17th prior to the Executive Bureau, to discuss in a more informal way about the future of the committee taking into consideration the renewal of the committee.

During the meeting, the attendees were informed about the renewal process of the committee for the mandate 2011-2013.

The diverse activities developed during 2010 were presented: official website of the committee, the Committee Forum, the Committee TV Channel, exchange of knowledge, founds search, Observatory, etc.

It was also discussed the Next activities to be developed, among them the First Study on the situation of ICT, Innovation and Knowledge management  in UCLG´s members and the need of collaborating closely with UCLG´s World Secretariat, UCLG´s Regional Sections  and above all, the Vice-presidencies of the Committee, for the obtaining of information in their regions.

Within the proposals made during the meeting, it was transmitted the need of creating regional nodes of the committee led by the Vice-presidencies. They would be responsible of boosting the work of the committee in the different areas. These regional nodes will give support for the obtaining of information for the First Study on the situation of ICT, Innovation and Knowledge management in UCLG´s members.

Cities use ICTs to become more competitive

Exploiting the potential of technology to improve municipal administrative processes and strengthen relationships between public administration and citizens are fundamental principles of ´digital cities´.

This concept seeks to make technology an engine for growth.

According to Francisco Gomez, Secretary General of the Iberoamerican Association of Research Centers and Telecommunication Enterprises (Ahciet), cities can use technology to improve internal processes in their institutions to provide citizens with more and better services that improve their relationship and facilitate their interaction.

Medellin is a good example of how technology can help to improve competitiveness and create a city orientation.

This capital city, thanks to strong support from the Mayor, universities and companies like Une, has built a scheme, where technology is a key player, to transform itself from a purely industrial town to one with serious interests in technology and service.

Thanks to an initiative by the City Council was created Medellin Digital, an agency dedicated to the promotion, adaptation and implementation of digital mechanisms for better use of ICTs in various scenes of Medellin´s daily-life. Eduardo Rojas, program manager, says its premise is to get the citizens, officials and entrepreneurs to use ICT in a successful way for them to benefit from it and thus improve their quality of life. There are three main elements that shape the success of a digital city: connectivity and infrastructure, content development and strategies of appropriation. "The three elements must coexist simultaneously, otherwise it is difficult to establish the concept of digital city" said the official.

The success achieved by Medellin in this promotions of ICT, has been the commitment and work done by the entities from their areas of influence, where they promote the design of a strategy on inclusion, developing different initiatives for entrepreneurs, students and elderly.

Experts say the main thing is that there is enough political will from government authorities to facilitate these processes that ultimately result in benefits to the entire community.

Medellin, on the road to digital

In the framework of Medellin Digital, it has being achieved to bring the more than 250,000 people TIC´sa. One of the main benefits has been on education. According to Eduardo Rojas, manager of the project, it has been created 160 spaces in educational institutions in the city, where they have successfully placed an average of 100 computers each. Through this initiative, 7,000 children and reinforce their knowledge in the digital environment, by learning through the Internet.

Source: La República (Colombia)

XI Latin American Meeting on Digital Cities

Medellin has held the XI Latin-American Meeting on Digital Cities, with the participation of delegates from diverse countries including Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Panama, as well as panelists from the U.S. and the UK.  

The challenge that governments are facing is the inclusion of citizens in the digital lifestyle. Today, the network is the "breeding ground" of culture and social development, both in terms of supplying information and how that shapes the personal and social behavior. 

Education is the pillar of society that is affected by this new cyber culture, offering new possibilities of access to knowledge, and changes the paradigm of teaching and knowledge acquisition. The struggle between formal education and new open structures is here and teachers must be prepared to participate in this new academic focus.

Also, utilities are affected not only the demands of users and how to meet them, but by the new requirements, for example in terms of connectivity, experiencing communities. 

The presentations emphasized the need to adapt to this new way of life and to find ways to reconcile the views of different generations to avoid creating divisions in society, not only by age but also differences in purchasing power or access to new technologies. The goal is not technology but people, is on the individual and its realization as such should be the emphasis on the design of digital strategies: the network we all are. 

Cities like Medellin and Tulua, Colombia, Curitiba in Brazil, Barcelona in Spain, the province of San Luis, Argentina and entire countries like the case of Uruguay, were highlighted at this meeting on the progress made in the plans for integration into the world and distributing digital access to ICT in all social strata.

Source: Computer World Colombia

Local and Regional leaders agree on a Manifesto for the City of 2030

After three days of intense debates and exchanges during the World Summit of Local and Regional leaders that was held in Mexico from 17th to the 20th November 2010, the members of United Cities and Local Governments and their partners have sent a strong signal to the international community by signing a Manifesto for the City of 2030 that shapes the City that mayors want for tomorrow.   

This World Summit for Local and Regional Leaders also saw the renewal of the Presidential team and of the governing bodies of United Cities and Local Governments. Founded in 2004, UCLG enters in a new period, with the election of Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul, as the new President of the World Organisation. Accompanying the Mayor of Istanbul, as Co-Presidents were elected Antonio Costa of Lisbon, Portugal; Johnny Araya of San Jose de Costa Rica; Wan Qingliang of Guangzhou, China; Muchadeyi Masunda of Harare, Zimbabwe: and Ilsur Metsin of Kazan, Russian Federation. Tel Ellis, Mayor of Bluffton, Indiana, USA, was ratified as Treasurer.

Mayor Topbas expressed the great honour that becoming the UCLG President represented for him and stressed the collegial character of the Presidency team as well as his commitment to work towards the enlargement of UCLG.

 At a time where our world becomes more and more urban and where intermediate and small cities will grow tremendously in the next years, the local and regional leaders have recalled that cities, whatever their size is, are all facing similar challenges. In their Manifesto for the City 2030, they established their vision for the urban future, insisting on the necessity to build an « inclusive City », together with its population, whatever their origins, their ages and gender.  A City that integrates at all levels of governance to be at the closest of the needs of the citizens, a city that fully cooperates with its regional and rural metropolitan environment. A city that is mobile, respecting the environment and endowed with an efficient public service and using renewable energies as well as non-polluting technologies.

Adding to the Manifesto for the City of 2010, the mayors and representatives of the regions and local governments´ association have agreed on a Final Declaration that sums up 25 recommendations. These include that any reduction in local finances should take account of demographic and other cost pressures, and should be phased to enable proper planning to protect front-line services. Local representatives have also called all governments to complete, strengthen and maintain effective laws and policies for democratic decentralization and local self-government.

As regards climate change, mayors and local representatives have affirmed their support to to the Mexico Pact and called national governments and the international community to work closely with them and to take bolder binding steps to prevent severely damaging climate change.

Finally, the City of Rabat, capital city of Morocco, was selected to host the next World Congress of UCLG in 2013.

The City of 2030- Our Manifesto

Recommendations of the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders