Medellín - Smart city

Mardi 16 mai 2017
Technologie, Gestion de la circulation, Infrastructures de transport, Logistique, Mobilité durable, Viabilité hivernale, Gouvernance, Sécurité et Aménagement
Diana Cecilia Zuluaga Rendón
Gérante des nouvelles affaires

Medellin is a city that went from being known for its security problems to being an international reference for technological and social innovation, urban transformation, equity, and citizen participation.

Medellin has implemented a series of strategies that have made it a smart city that is developing the capacity and organic structure of the entities that control mobility, the environment, and safety. In subsequent phases, Medellin expects to integrate services under a single control center, which will enable it to centralize monitoring of city operations.

Although there is no single methodological framework for implementation, all of the initiatives share one characteristic: they are aimed at serving citizens, and they have created mechanisms to communicate and interact with them to promote the continuous improvement of smart services.

Through the Program “MDE: Medellin Smart City,” Medellin is implementing projects to create free Internet access zones, community centers where ICT can be accessed, a Mi-Medellin co-creation portal, open data, online transactions, and other services that aim to achieve citizen participation, open government, social innovation in problem solving, and project sustainability.

Another strategy is the creation of the Smart Mobility System (Sistema Integrado de Movilidad de Medellin, or SIMM) which, through the use of technology, an operations center, and a series of monitoring and control services, has achieved a reduced number of accidents, improved mobility, and a reduced incident response time.

In the environmental strategy, the Early Warning System (Sistema de alertas tempranas, or SIATA), the Noise Monitoring Network, and the Air Quality Network combine with the emergency care network to integrate services that are linked.

Added to this are the Integrated Metropolitan Emergency and Safety System (Sistema Integrado de Emergencia y Seguridad Metropolitana, or SIES-M), a systemic strategy of interinstitutional convergence between the safety and emergency agencies of the State that integrates more than 10 local and national government agencies.

These initiatives have been continuous since their inception, using operational models that bring together public and private associations and agreements between government entities in different sectors, with the participation of academic institutions and innovation, science, and technological entities.

Not everything along the way has been easy: the integration of entities that provide services has been slow in the absence of inter-administrative agreements that enable information sharing. Technological backwardness in some of the components has made integration impossible, and the lack of resources in some entities has prevented a stronger campaign that communicates information about the services.

Smart city innovation is not only technological, it must also be social. It must seek sustainability in each project or service by ensuring income sources and/or adjudication to operators that outlast changes in government. It should also encompass technological renovation and maintenance to guarantee continuity of ongoing projects. In Medellin, a series of citizen-centered services are improving residents’ quality of life. Although they still must evolve substantially to achieve integration and predictability, they are already showing results in capacities developed for the future management of a consolidated smart city.


Medellin Smart City Vision

The Medellin Smart City Program consolidates ICT adoption processes, content generation, design of services, and support for public connectivity strategies with the aim of improving the relationship between citizens, their environment, and the municipal administration.

It is expected that by 2020, this strategy will improve the quality of life of the citizens, providing continuity and extending existing actions, and developing new strategies using ICTs as a way of contributing to solving problems and creating opportunities in education, safety, mobility, the environment, economic development, housing, citizen participation, and equity. The strategic lines of the Medellin Smart City program are the following:

  • Citizen participation: Create a culture of participation through adequate spaces that reflect residents’ proposals for the city’s public policies. 

  • Open government: Generate, promote, and position open data. The information developed by the municipal administration, public bodies, businesses, and academic institutions must be made available for the citizens’ use and benefit, through ICTs, as social networks, webpages, and applications.
  • Social innovation: Promote processes that allow citizens to modify their environment, transform their reality, and find solutions to their problems. 

  • Sustainability: Develop projects to 
promote sustainability and ensure economic, environmental, political, and social conditions for current and future generations.

In this evolution, Medellin has been implementing a series of initiatives with a high degree of technical and social innovation content, integrating services, systems, and technology from each of the secretariats that comprise the Municipal Administration.

One of the secretariats with the most initiative in the area of innovation and technology is Medellin’s Mobility Secretariat, which has modernized its services and created the Medellin Smart Mobility System (Sistema Integrado de Movilidad de Medellín, or SIMM). This system consolidated the creation of the Mobility Control Center, the transit records services, the electronic detection of traffic infractions, cameras for traffic monitoring, variable messaging panels, support systems for the traffic light network, and a system for public transportation control, among others, that have made the city a world reference in the area of integration to improve mobility and reduce accidents.

Medellin’s Smart Mobility System (SIMM)

The increase in the number of vehicles, population growth, urbanization, industrialization, and population densification have a considerable impact on the city’s mobility. They reduce the efficiency of the transportation infrastructure and increase commuting time, air pollution, and fuel consumption.

For all of these reasons, in 2010, the municipality of Medellin began studying the need to implement a mobility system (SIMM) that integrates information technologies, communication, transportation infrastructure, and the different types of vehicles. This system seeks to manage all of these components efficiently to improve mobility in the city by optimizing the use of the roads, improving safety, reducing commuting times, pollution, and fuel consumption, and disseminating information to users so that they can make better decisions related to their travel.

SIMM seeks to employ technological solutions to lessen mobility constraints. SIMM is a successful case of public-private partnership. It has seven technological components integrated into a transit control center for surveillance and mobility management within the city.

Since the implementation of the Smart Mobility System in 2010, a series of results have been recorded, which are presented below. They can still be improved upon, and should be integrated with policies designed to reduce the use of private cars and significantly improve the use of public services under optimal conditions for all. The current experience has yielded the following results: 

  • A 24% reduction in the rate of traffic accidents per 10,000 vehicles in the areas covered by variable messaging panels.
  • A 35% reduction in the traffic accident rate for every 10,000 vehicles in the areas covered by the photo-detection cameras 

  • An 18% reduction in the percentage of negative incidents (responses to false alarms)
  • 74% fewer drivers fined for exceeding the speed limit
  • 193,840 hours of congestion saved in 2014 as a result of the reduction in response times since 2010
  • 27% fewer photo-detections were made for speeding
  • 24 out of every 1000 vehicles were subject to photo-detection; now only 4 out of every 1000
  • An 8% increase in response times of under 15 minutes to accidents
  • 69% fewer drivers were fined for running red lights


Lessons Learned during the Process of making Medellin a Smart City

Social Innovation – the next step for appropriation of technology

In addition to implementing services, technology, and control centers that centralize the city’s operations, Medellin supports social innovation. Through open government strategies, citizen participation, social innovation, and sustainability, with MDE: Medellin Smart City, it hopes to put forth a program that is both technological and social. Through strategies such as free hotspots, the co-creation MIMedellin, and content creation, among others, the idea is to view technology as a tool that people should know how to use and enable residents to live better in their surroundings.

Alliances between entities of different governmental fields are necessary for the integration of the services in shared territories.

One of the fundamental factors in creating synergies and providing integrated services is collaboration among municipal, departmental, metropolitan, and national administrative entities. Thus, the Medellin Municipal Partnership with the Aburra Valley Metropolitan Area enables them to monitor the environment in Medellin  and surrounding municipalities, integrating SIMM into emergency response. This partnership has boosted efficiency in the management of field devices maintained by the Mobility Control Center that require constant support to comply with environmental regulations. Likewise, the collaboration between the National Police, the emergency network and decentralized entities has been successful thanks to the will and joint participation of the different entities, even though they fall under different government jurisdictions.

Modernization of the City’s Administrative Services is necessary to implement a Smart City System such as that of Medellin

The main point of contact for the citizens of the municipality of Medellin is the administrative services that are provided. This implies that the level of trust in the government is affected by people’s impression of the service they receive when using it.

Medellin made important advances in modernizing transactions with the State, such as the public-private partnership within the Mobility Secretariat, decentralization of technical services, innovation in the USC, and implementation of a one-stop shop for handling transactions in the decentralized branches of the municipality and through the webpage, among others. All of this makes the municipality’s processes and databases more organized, which enhances its capacity to manage and integrate smart city services with reliable information for its correct functioning.

Change Management, Socialization Campaigns and Citizen Awareness

Before implementing any services that involve interaction with citizens, it is indispensable to identify the social objectives of the project and the benefits that will accrue for citizens, and determine the possibility of quantifying them. In implementing the SIMM, for example, an awareness campaign was needed to educate citizens on the importance of electronic detection cameras. Thus, despite the fact that they were pioneering technologies in the country and they encountered resistance, citizens have identified benefits in terms of protection of life and culture. Despite this positive experience, currently some online security services and the benefits of the SIATA system are not broadly understood by the citizens. This sometimes prevents them from taking advantage of all of the positive effects that these initiatives can generate in their everyday lives.

Building Smart Cities

A city that aims to become a smart city should take other world cities that have been successful at this as a point of reference. It should analyze their transportation systems, road infrastructure, and culture, among other aspects, and if possible request the collaboration of outside entities and experts in this area.

It is important to work together, involving the municipality as well as civil society, academia, and the private sector, to establish development objectives for the city and plan for the future in a sustainable manner, learning from past mistakes and prioritizing people and the environment.

It is important to plan holistically. To do so, some aspects that should be taken into consideration are mobility and transportation, the use of land and zoning, the environment and climate change, fiscal management, and citizen safety. Additionally, cities should exchange knowledge and open themselves up to constructive criticism from the citizens.


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