Smart City, Smart Future: Guadalajara, Mexico

By Victor M. Larios, Volunteer Leader of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative Guadalajara Pilot

The future gets closer every single day, that is, the future in which the number of people living in the world's cities will double by 2050. In fact, cities already are home to half of the Earth's total population.

Needless to say, the infrastructures and resources those cities rely on are being put to the test. While the ever-increasing strain will serve up many challenges, it also will offer city leaders plenty of opportunities. Leaders that really want to begin paving the way to a better tomorrow have options that they can, and should, begin implementing today.

Guadalajara, Mexico is one city that is making an effort to get ahead and stay ahead. Currently teeming with 1.5 million people, plus another 2.7 million in the metro area, Mexico's second largest city is the first of 10 municipalities that will be participating in the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative (SCI) ( Launched in March 2014, the initiative enables participating cities to collaborate with each other and with world-renowned smart city builders and experts. The IEEE also is providing the cities with investment and other assistance to execute their Smart City strategies.

Ciudad Creativa Digital Project

Smart cities work in ways that bring together technology, government and society to enable smart economies, mobility, environment, governance, and quality of life for people that live in them. However, the IEEE has selected Guadalajara, and what eventually will be a total of nine other cities, for their differences, rather than their similarities. Their diversity will reveal more options and foster creativity among the participants. The technological and behavioral innovations they share with one another will help each city to analyze and optimize their processes and better adapt their plans to meet the needs of their citizens.

With its historic, culture-rich city center surrounded by colleges and universities and a vibrant high-tech community, Guadalajara has a lot to build upon already in place. To leverage its existing vibrance, the city has embarked upon a campaign called the Ciudad Creativa Digital (CCD) project to drive its transformation into a Smart City and become a global center of digital media creation.

CCD seeks to integrate Guadalajara's urban environment with innovators interested in working in a wide variety of digital media industries. The more exciting projects and creative jobs the city can attract, the more smart people there will be in town to generate ideas for improving the city's infrastructure and services in ways that accommodate Guadalajara's inevitable population growth. The city has broken ground on 40 hectares of what could eventually expand to 380 hectares of space for the project.

Both city leaders and Mexican government officials are very enthusiastic about making Smart City possibilities become reality in both the near- and far-term. In addition to revitalizing Guadalajara, the project is serving as a test bed to develop best practices and a pool of talent that can be used in cities throughout Mexico. To speed that process these leaders are embracing revolutionary, and often complementary, technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart grid, e-health and augmented reality, to name a few. All of the above will help provide the people of Guadalajara with clean water, nutritious food, and affordable energy, housing and transportation, etc.

The IEEE is there to provide government and CCD leaders with its wealth of experience and knowledge of these emerging and evolving technologies. For example, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) provides a platform for global, open development of standards, which will be imperative to the success and scalability of Smart Cities. The group currently is developing an architectural framework for the IoT. The framework will promote cross-domain interaction, aid system interoperability and functional compatibility.

All of these things are needed to fuel growth of the IoT market and become resilient infrastructure to Smart Cities around the world. Initially, IoT is being used to support intelligent buildings, lighting, healthcare, transportation and more, but the sky is the limit in terms of opportunities that IoT and other emerging technologies will foster.