Smart Territory Initiatives in an Emerging Economy: The Case of Chihuahua City in Mexico

Smart Territory Initiatives in an Emerging Economy: The Case of Chihuahua City in Mexico

María de Carmen Gutiérrez-Diez, José Luis Bordas-Beltrán, Ana María de Guadalupe Arras-Vota
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2097-0.ch011
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In the last years, a sense of urgency for cities to become more livable and sustainable has arisen due to the expected increase in their population. This chapter describes different initiatives taking place in the city of Chihuahua in Mexico, using the framework developed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with four dimensions: 1) Infrastructure for connectivity; 2) Sensors; 3) Integrated command and operations center; and 4) Communications technology. For each one of them, a description of the activities or projects is provided, along with a final SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis.
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There is a gap between the concept/development of a smart city and that of an intelligent territory, the latter being an evolution of the first since it goes beyond the scope of a single city (Ekiona, 2018).

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency in the field of telecommunications, information, and communication technologies (ICTs). This group (ITU, 2014) proposed the following definition for a smart, sustainable city. Said the ITU-T Focus Group approved definition for Smart Sustainable Cities, and it reads as follows:

“A smart, sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, the efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects.”

A Smart City can be understood as a community in which citizens, business firms, knowledge institutions, and municipal agencies collaborate with one another to achieve integrated, efficient systems, engaged citizens, and quality of life that is continually improving (Barrionuevo, Berrone, & Ricart, 2012; Berrone, Ricart, Rodriguez Planas, & Salvado, 2017). With urbanization on the rise at a global scale, failure to adapt to the new urban reality could be disastrous for cities; they would be facing unprecedented demographic, economic, social, and environmental challenges. Case studies are needed to transform such challenges into opportunities since they can outline initiatives that help redesign cities and territories so that they become smarter and more sustainable.

From the above definitions, it can be inferred that a Smart Territory initiative comes along with a Smart City initiative. From this standpoint, the chapter offers the description and lessons learned from the Chihuahua municipality. This case describes several actions or projects developed by the local government and the private economic sector. These initiatives combine information, innovation, and technology, as well as entrepreneurial initiatives, all of them essential for smart territorial development.

Hence the relevance of these types of reviews, considering through them, it is possible to identify similarities and development opportunities for other initiatives in similar or comparable circumstances. In this context, the sustainable development of cities becomes more relevant than ever. New urban models must be conceived from a more respectful and sensitive perspective regarding citizens and the planet. Given current urban growth trends, many urban centers will become mega-cities, with mega-problems, if not adequately prepared.

Technology is reconfiguring traditional roles and divisions of labor. City governments cannot provide every type of application and service themselves. This realization opens the door for other entities with capital and capabilities to step in, mainly where there may be opportunities to generate revenue. Smart cities have become more intricate ecosystems over time, with a mix of private-sector participation varying from city to city.

The need to tailor solutions to fit each city’s context, combined with the unwillingness of dealing with multiple stakeholders and agencies, has made it challenging for many actors and organizations involved. One possible solution could be balancing each city’s desire for custom solutions with their own need for scale. Forming alliances and working cooperatively with other providers to set industry standards and thus promote a shift toward open interfaces, may help the entire industry move forward — while simultaneously addressing a common worry among city governments about being locked into specific technology solutions and vendors (Woetzel & Remes, 2018).

As more of the world's population moves to cities, businesses have myriad opportunities to carve out new, lucrative niches using their expert knowledge and access to cutting-edge technology and data to help tackle the growing list of challenges being faced by local authorities (Berrone et al., 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

IMPLAN: Municipal Institute of Planning, the institution created more than 15 years ago, to plan and evaluate the city growth. It has elaborated several diagnostics around Chihuahua´s problems and proposed solutions, but almost none of them have been implemented. During the administration of 2016-2018 and 2019-2021, there is a sense of purpose that looks to cross the line between planning and real action.

CUU: Abbreviation originally used to identify Chihuahua’s airport, which now has become widely used to recognize the whole territory or metropolitan area, both by local authorities and inhabitants.

Smart City: A community in which citizens, business firms, knowledge institutions, and municipal agencies collaborate to achieve systems integration and efficiency, citizen engagement, and a continually improving quality of life for their inhabitants.

DENUE: National Statistical Directory of Economic Units. Another federal institution: INEGI generates this listing.

MIA App: Application developed by local authorities to help prevent violence against women.

PECUU: Chihuahua Shield Program, a security program, whose acronym is formed by the initials in Spanish plus the abbreviation CUU (already explained above). Defined by six fundamental objectives: 1) Efficient use of technology and information; 2) Development and improvement of police personnel and life quality for themselves and their families; 3) Specific police work operations based on strategic information; 4) Certification of members and installations according to professional standards; 5) Participation and prevention attitudes from citizens; 6) Transparency from authorities.

INEGI: National Institute of Statistics and Geography. This institute is in charge of generating data, which helps to provide insights about Mexico's development.

Smart Territory: Geographic contexts considered examples of sustainability and efficiency in areas of great importance for their development, always having the citizen in the center of their interest (IGI dictionary).

Chihuahua Mobile app: Application developed by local authorities, which seeks to provide a communication channel between citizens and authorities. This app can be found for Android, as well as for IoS systems.

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