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Mérida signs with tech giants to be Latin America’s 1st ‘Smart City’

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A high-tech conference in Barcelona attracted city leaders from all over the world, including Mérida. Photo: The Urban Developer

Mérida, Yucatán — The mayor made a trip to Spain pay off big time for the city, coming back with a big commitment and free money from two tech giants.

The two technology companies, Ikusi and Cisco, are donating 8.4 million pesos and a good chunk of their human capital toward a “Smart Mérida” pilot program.

The companies aim to convert Mérida into Latin America’s first “Smart City.”

A memorandum of understanding was signed with Mérida’s mayor, Mauricio Vila Dosal, at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

A “smart” or digital city uses information and communication technologies to enhance the quality, performance and interactivity of urban services to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government.

“Whether a city is looking to reduce energy usage, ease traffic and parking, or boost public transportation ridership and revenues, the program will help cities with solutions,” Cisco management explains in a press release.

Cisco’s City Lab platform includes a system for detecting and monitoring traffic and pedestrian flow, monitoring air quality in real time and even the noise generated in specific areas of the city. Hardware will first be installed near the San Benito market.

Cisco recently announced at the same event a new US$1 billion program to help cities “get smarter.” The new City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program aims to make it easier, faster and more affordable for cities around the world to fund and adopt smart systems and services.

Cisco is a multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San Jose, Calif. Ikusi is a 45-year-old business group based in San Sebastián, Spain, where it develops activity in the field of electronics and information and communication technologies.

Vila said the companies chose Mérida because it is a vanguard city, which, like several European capitals, has achieved significant progress in terms of connectivity in public spaces during the last two years.

The 2017 Smart City Expo World Congress brought together over 700 cities from the five continents, with 675 exhibitors and over 400 speakers. This seventh event attracted over 18,000 attendees, exceeding initial expectations.

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