Argentina is a South American country, located at the southern and south-eastern tip of the subcontinent. It has a population of 43 million. Its nominal GDP is 21st worldwide; it’s the 23rd economy in the planet and one of the most industrialized emerging countries.
The advance of information and communication technologies in Argentina is shown in the following international data provided by UN (United Nations):
For the city of Buenos Aires, the following table shows its rank in the region (2014) and worldwide (2012 – 2014) for the IESE Cities in Motion 2015 Index, that considers ten advance dimensions in 148 cities worldwide – including technology:
The IESE Cities in Motion 2015 Index ranks the Argentinian cities of Córdoba and Rosario in 106 and 114, respectively.
Let’s check now the smart territory advances and losses for Buenos Aires, sorted to understand its relevance and linkage level, considering the five (5) components that comprise the Manual.gob methodological analysis: institutional capability, legal framework, technology management, smart services and relationship with users.
1) CASE STUDY: OVERVIEW
Buenos Aires is the largest urban area in the country, second in South America and one of the 20 biggest cities in the world. Buenos Aires is am
ong the cities with a higher quality of life in Latin America and its income per capita is among the three highest in the region. It is the most visited city in South America.
The city of Buenos Aires is one of the 24 territorial entities in the country and has 48 districts. It’s an autonomous city, with its own executive, legislative and judicial powers, besides its own police.
In the IESE Cities in Motion 2015 survey, Buenos Aires ranked as follows for the 10 dimensions considered:
In this survey, among 148 cities worldwide, Buenos Aires shows relevant advances in the following dimensions: governance (42) , urban planning (50) and technology (79) . For the dimensions of economy , mobility and transportation and public management , which are key points to develop smart cities, Buenos Aires ranked 122, 124 and 132, respectively.
2) CASE STUDY: SMART CITY PRACTICES
A. Institutional capability: There’s a smart city public policy and/or a department or government agency that formula and manages the strategy or program for the smart territory.
In 2011, Head of Government Mauricio Macri created the Ministry of Modernization with the goal of improving the operation of the city of Buenos Aires by means of technology added to the different actions of the public administration.
The Ministry of Modernization embraced a working plan that includes all initiatives and actions towards the Modernization of the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, both developed directly from the Ministry (vertical) and those developed and implemented together with other ministries (horizontal), with the aim of maximizing integration, process development, and addition of new technologies.
In 2014, by means of the Decree 490, the Undersecretary of Smart City of the Ministry of Modernization of Buenos Aires was created. In this Decree the following administrative changes on the local government were passed:
- Creation of the General Directorate of Services Modernization for the Citizen – reporting to the Undersecretary of Smart City.
- Creation of the Special Projects Unit ‘Social Innovation’, also reporting to the Undersecretary of Smart City, with the goal of supporting the competence areas on the implementation of technology improvements, systems and processes associated to social protection services offered by the Government of the city of Buenos Aires, and enhancing the access to vulnerable groups.
By the other hand, the Ministry of Modernization, through work groups, identifies the innovation needs for the public organisms that are part of the city administration, and establishes actions to achieve the solution. These work groups help to implement initiatives regarding to the smart city, e-government, and government.
Within these regulatory changes, the implementation of a smart territory plan for Buenos Aires is expected. This plan will coordinate all critical sectors or subsystems in the city, based on innovation, technology and sustainability.
This smart territory plan will include indicators that will enable the results to be measured, as well as the impact of open government, open data, Internet of Things, and Big Data initiatives.
This is the most relevant coordination between the national and territorial levels to implement smart city initiatives.
B. Legal framework: A legal framework is defined to allow Information and Communication Technologies to be used as management tools and platforms for public administrations and cities.
As mentioned earlier, Buenos Aires is an autonomous city with its own executive and legislative power, and has an enabling legal framework to develop the information society. Regarding the open government, the following regulations have been passed at national level to supplement territorial regulations:
- Law 25326/2000 on personal data protection.
- Decree 1172/2003 on public information access.
C. Technology Management: Actions are established to integrate effectively the Information and Communication Technologies in the territory management.
For several years the city of Buenos Aires has guidelines to integrate Information Technologies in public management. Currently, the Ministry of Modernization of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires leads the actions that integrate ICT in the government and in the city sectors or subsystems. Technology is considered a mean and not the goal, and the core of e-government, open government and smart city policies lies in the citizen.
The Information Systems Agency and the Ministry of Modernization , created by the Law 2.689/2008, are the governing body in Information Technologies. This agency is responsible for defining the policies that public entities belonging to the local government should accomplish regarding information systems, electronic media use and management, project management, software development, and ICT standards.
By the other hand, each city ministry has an IT area and agenda implemented according to the guidelines released by the Ministry of Modernization through the Information Systems Agency.
As illustrated on Graph 3, the Information Systems Agency and Undersecretary of Smart City of the Ministry of Modernization are facing the challenge to coordinate the use of technology in all public entities of the city, and regarding the operation of critical subsystems in the territory.
D. Smart Services: Conditions are created to improve and increase the TIC-based offer of information and services for citizens and companies.
Some of the services currently offered by the city of Buenos Aires are described hereafter:
From 2012, the Ministry of Modernization and the Information Systems Agency lead the technical and operating implementation of a free, public access point network to WiFi connections.
The network is called BA Wi.Fi and its goal is establishing a communication path accessible in terms of technology, free, wide among the citizens and the city services.
Today more than 280 points form the BA Wi-Fi service. They are located in parks, squares, public spaces, community offices, libraries, museums, hospitals, and healthcare centres in the city, along with public buildings of the city government. About 70 of these points are located in the southern part of the city, where most of the vulnerable groups live.
This service benefits particularly those citizens with limited or no Internet Access at all. The BA Wi-Fi network ensures that citizens with lower incomes can connect at no cost, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, in places nearby and with a secure access that filters inappropriate contents for the underage.
The graph shows the distribution of Wi Fi points in the city of Buenos Aires:
Sarmiento BA Plan
The purpose of the Plan Sarmiento BA is integrating innovation in education and learning processes, within the challenges posed by the
The Sarmiento BA Plan consists of resources and actions that answer changes in education, within these three fields: knowledge society. The Sarmiento BA Plan is part of the Digital Education Comprehensive Plan, an initiative of the Ministry of Education of the City of Buenos Aires. Its main goals are promoting quality of education with equal opportunities and social integration.
• Strategy and training.
• Collaborative digital platform (Integrar).
• Technology infrastructure.
The Online Formalities System allows any formality before the Public Administration to be done from a computer or cellular telephone, thus streamlining the relationship between citizens and government. The citizen can manage and track formalities with no need to get to a local government office.
The system enables the citizen to sign up via web y access different formalities. The citizen can ask online for a meeting with the Head of Government or digital copies of documents stored in public files.
BA Cómo Llego
BA Cómo Llego is a mobile app allowing the citizen to check how to get from one point to another in the city by bus, train, subway, bicycle, walking or by car.
E. Relationship with the Users: Actions or initiatives are implemented to involve the citizens in the development of the knowledge society and public matters resolution.
The actions designed and developed by the Ministry of Modernization of the city of Buenos Aires, which involve ICT, consider the impact they may have for the citizen.
The Ministry of Modernization, through the Information Systems Agency, leads the initiatives Open Government and Open Data, like Buenos Aires Data, that integrates the following activities:
- Data generated by the city of Buenos Aires that may be reused by the citizens .
- Official mobile apps developed by the community of the city of Buenos Aires.
- Government laboratories to develop open source prototypes, visualizations and projects.
The city offers other services to the citizen, like BA147 , that integrates –among other support channels– an online chat –see Graph 5– so the citizen can ask for appointments, submit a complaint, and check about local government management.
These are some of the conclusions regarding the achievements of Buenos Aires as a smart city:
- Buenos Aires is the Latin American capital city that has, from 2014, the most complete administrative structure –from a formal point of view– to carry out smart city initiatives. This advantage is very relevant due to the size of the city and its population.
- The challenge for the city is planning a government administrative (formal) structure as an institutional and technological platform that coordinates all the players in the city, as well as critical sectors or subsystems in the territory, about la innovation, intelligence and sustainability.
- Buenos Aires has some historical, cultural and geographical features that enable a convergence between people and companies, thus generating the suitable conditions for the exchange of knowledge and the development of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- This city shows interesting advances in critical issues for a city to be smart: open data, online services and formalities, civic participation, and education.
Finally, I’d like to thank Dr Augusto Clement, Smart City advisor at the Undersecretary of Smart City of the Ministry of Modernization of the city of Buenos Aires, for his helpful cooperation.