Mexico ready to develop smart cities

Mexico is in a position to start developing Smart Cities, which will organize urban development, mobility, government procedures, and monitor safety and traffic, among others, through data analysis and blockchain.

A smart city is a complex and interconnected system that applies new technologies to manage everything from the proper functioning of public and private transportation systems to the efficient use of energy or water resources.

A smart city detects the needs of its citizens, and reacts to these demands. The city bases its actions and management on this knowledge, ideally in real-time, or even anticipating what may happen.

Mexico City has the conditions to be a Smart City. It has a sophisticated and connected society, nothing alien to today's technologies, the historical moment of change being experienced, and the intellectual resource, form the perfect ecosystem for the digital transformation of the city.

There are different non-exclusive models on which an intelligent city can be developed: environment, mobility, governance, economy, people, and housing. Of course, the real 'smart' metropolis brings together each of these categories to be as efficient and green as possible.

But cities are gradually moving forward on different fronts and today integrated service platforms are common; applications for tourists, citizens, and business people to discover the activities of the municipality. Even special programs to support SMEs (such as urban living labs or nurseries), and the installation of more environmentally friendly initiatives.

These are the four smart cities in Mexico

In Mexico, there are four cities that are considered Intelligent Cities by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The international organization declared Maderas, in Querétaro; Ciudad Creativa and Tequila, in Jalisco; and Smart, in Puebla, as intelligent zones. In addition, there is Mexico City, which although not 100% intelligent, has several characteristics that lead to that category.

There are only four smart cities developing in Mexico. Image: Digital Creative City, Jalisco
There are only four smart cities developing in Mexico. Image: Digital Creative City, Jalisco

A Smart City is a region in which all its dimensions: mobility, security, government, health, among others, operate guided by technology. While there are several initiatives underway, such as Ciudad Creativa and Tequila in Jalisco and Smart in Puebla, these projects are still in various stages of maturity.

Mexico lacks federal programs that promote this city model and function as a guiding framework. There is no 'National Strategy for Smart Cities' or financial instruments of development banks that can finance these components.

The IDB understands that an intelligent city is one that places people at the center of development, incorporates information and communication technologies in urban management, and uses these elements as tools to stimulate the formation of an efficient government.

Although there are already spaces in Mexico considered intelligent, they are still in the process of maturation. A smart city uses technology to generate better living conditions for its inhabitants.

Mexico is a territory with great potential for the development of this type of city. Mainly for two reasons. In Mexico there are clear problems, such as security or mobility, that can find an interesting solution in technology. The second is a large number of cities with a vocation such as tourist sites, which have the possibility of promoting their advancement through technology.

This makes Mexico a fertile ground for the emergence of intelligent cities, a beneficial model, with a multiplier effect, which in the current context takes on special relevance due to the potential it has to improve people's quality of life.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank, these are the Smart Cities that can be found in Mexico:

Maderas, Querétaro

Located in the municipality of Santiago, Maderas was the first intelligent city to be built in Mexico. It began in 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2020. It is currently developing 100,000 homes on 400 hectares, plus 20,000 properties on the periphery.

Digital Creative City, Jalisco

This project has been developed since 2014 within Guadalajara, as a bet to favor the digital and creative industry. This site will have 380 hectares and will house 50,000 people. The average price of houses in the capital city is $1,849,000 pesos (USD 94,764).

Tequila, Jalisco

This magical town works to be catalogued as an intelligent city since 2014, and is expected to conclude its process in 2040. Considered the first intelligent tourist city, local authorities seek to promote mobility, connectivity, and open data, and thus replicate this model in other magical towns in the country.

Smart, Puebla

Located within the state capital, this city aims to focus on the economic development of its inhabitants on technological innovation. That is why universities and civil society organizations work in it in order to improve integral sustainability.

Smart forest Cancun

The Italian architect Stefano Boeri presented to the authorities of Quintana Roo Smart Forest Cancun, an intelligent city project surrounded by forests and that will be presented as a precursor construction in the eco-efficient building.

Smart Forest Cancun: a smart city in Cancun
Smart Forest Cancun: a smart city in Cancun

The development will cover 557 hectares, will have 130,000 inhabitants and will house 7.5 million plants, shrubs, and trees.

"It is a botanical garden within a contemporary city, based on Mayan heritage and its relationship with the natural and sacred world [...] It is an urban ecosystem where nature and the city are intertwined and act as a single organism," said Stefano Boeri.

According to the Dezeen portal, it will have sensors and big data for the management of the city, the consumption of energy and the life of citizens, so it is estimated that it will be self-sufficient and that the locals themselves will produce their own energy and food.

Stefano Boeri partnered with Transsolar, an engineering company, to include solar panels and to irrigate farmland with an integrated water system.

In addition to sustainability, "Smart Forest City Cancun is expected to absorb 116,000 tons of carbon dioxide with 5,800 tons of CO2 stored per year [...] and could make our world a better place, significantly reducing negative impacts on the environment," he said.

Because of its proximity to Cancun and the Caribbean Sea, the development will be surrounded by "water gardens," in order to reinforce the project against flooding, and can also be used to navigate around the smart city.

Smart Forest Cancun
Smart Forest Cancun

In terms of mobility, there will be an internal electrical and semi-automatic system that will be developed by Mobility in Chain (MIC), so the inhabitants will have to leave their vehicles out of the development.

The housing to be built on this site will be of two affordable types and the complex will be a research center with six facilities that will address issues such as bio-health care; astrophysics planetary science; coral reef restoration; precision agriculture and regenerative technology; intelligent city; mobility and robotics.

It is worth mentioning that this project is part of the architect's concept of Forest City, which are cities formed by skyscrapers covered with plants in urban areas of China. In addition to being awaiting resolution by the authorities.