The Chilean city of Las Condes anticipates the future of smart cities to improve the quality of life of its residents and enhance its digital transformation journey by launching a ‘brain’ for data platform, to ensure levels of safety, well-being and sustainability. This is due to the collection and management of data from one platform.
Smart city management requires the adoption of the latest emerging technologies, collection of massive amounts of data and storing it in secure places. And most importantly, enabling the competent authorities to easily access this data, in order to invest it in the interest and well-being of societies.
Cities may fail to achieve their visions due to the absence of innovation, copying previous global experiences, and the desire to achieve goals within a short period of time. They also transcend the cultural and social context of the population to achieve their goals and implement their future plans, without any regard for the identity of the neighbourhoods and communities in which they live.
During its development journey, the Chilean city of Las Condes faced challenges such as water scarcity, high crime, poor air quality, traffic congestion and high expenses for the city's public streetlight system, not to mention that any attempt to change collided with the population's desire to preserve the authentic identity of their city, while demanding higher levels of well-being at the same time.
“Las Condes, Better for all” was launched in 2018 to become one of the significant smart cities in the world with the aim to constantly improve its governance and services for the benefit, satisfaction and wellbeing of around 300,000 residents.
The city's authorities cooperated with several government agencies, private companies, and technology service providers to establish advanced infrastructure, embedded modern technologies such as the Internet of Things and key data in their work mechanisms, and deployed a network of sensors that collect smart and detailed data on traffic, pollution, and security throughout the city.
The city has developed a smart system for streetlights, which is connected to the “Cerro Dominador” station, the first solar thermal power plant in South America. The system includes more than 45,000 LED lights, which are connected to environmental sensors that monitor the weather, natural light, and the needs of each neighbourhood separately.
Security is also a priority in Las Condes’ smart city strategy because the prevention of crime and people’s perception of security are both important. The city has around 19,000 sensors, including lighting nodes, parking sensors and environmental sensors, as well as 1,900 video surveillance cameras. Analytics software is used on camera data to detect 51 movements that could indicate different types of crime. These ‘early alerts’ could flag up fighting or an unexpected crowd gathering. The city can’t legally take direct action but shares information with the police to facilitate their work.
Based on this Smart Urban Network, the cybersecure 6LoWPAN infrastructure connects over 17,000 streetlights, more than 1,000 parking lots, about 60 systems for traffic surveillance, over 50 smart totems and over 300 environmental sensors.
These devices monitor traffic and transmit data to residents through a smart application and electronic platform, directing them to the fastest and least crowded roads, and informing them of the weather and air quality, so that people with chronic diseases can take the necessary precautions before leaving their homes.
These are also connected to the remote irrigation system that is used to water green spaces in moderation, and which detects any water leakage or any spread of pollutants in the local river that feeds the city.
To bring together data in one centre, the city will soon launch an urban monitoring centre, which is described as a ‘brain’ for data, and it is the first of its kind in the country. It will be the culmination of past efforts and the basis for social and policy programmes.
The growth of this network created a wave of apprehension among the population, who expected it to be used to violate their privacy, keep and use their personal data for other purposes, or provide it to third parties, in addition to their concern that emerging technologies would destroy the identity of their city. Hence, officials reassured them that its use would be limited to public spaces to enhance levels of safety and security, and improve future plans. Residents will always be part of the decision-making process to ensure greater ownership of the city.
The authorities witnessed a 25% reduction in carbon footprint and energy expenditure achieved by the smart and clean streetlight system, which has been transformed into investments in various projects linked to sustainability.
The authorities hope that this system will support their journey towards digital transformation, and that these smart systems will help them make clearer and informed decisions and take actions that are in the interest of all and in line with the city's sustainable slogan.
This means that the city will become an example for Chile, Latin America and even the world to follow, as it will be a live testing platform that provides the advantages of such system, and thus expanding its use in accelerating the growth path of smart cities, driving knowledge-based economic development in the world, and improving the quality of life in general.