Curitiba ranked as Brazil’s smartest city

13th September 2018 Manuel Manrique

Curitiba is the smartest and most connected Brazilian city, according to organisers of the fourth edition of the Connected Smart Cities meeting, held in São Paulo. The list, made up of 11 indicators, analysed 700 cities and ranks those with the greatest development potential.

The mayor of Curitiba, Rafael Greca, said the city is recovering its ability to innovate and become a national reference again in public management.

“Our commitment is to improve people’s quality of life and that is why we foster the innovation environment in Vale do Pinhão, an innovation ecosystem open to the private sector, start-ups, universities and entrepreneurs, focused on developing integrated actions to encourage technology, promotion and integration, education and entrepreneurship and revitalisation of regions with employment and income,” he said.

Greca added that the municipality re-launched Curitiba Tecnoparque, a tax incentive programme to attract technology-based companies that invest in city innovation.

“In addition, Curitiba has four technological hubs, seven incubators and presented a growth of 20 percent of micro individual companies,” he said.

Seven cities in the southeast of the country and three in the south took the top ten placements. The other regions (north, northeast and central-west) did not make it to the top 10. The best cities placed by region were: Campo Grande (central-west) in 12th place, Recife (northeast) in 13th, and Palmas (north) in 18th place. São Paulo conquered second place overall and the first in mobility and urbanism.

Corruption and governance

Corruption scandals, especially after the beginning of Operation Car Wash–the ongoing federal criminal investigation–in March 2014, accelerated actions in favour of transparency, data integration and speed in the management of local governments. Most of the participants consider that to have smart cities it is necessary to bring different actors to government.

Rafael Burity, Head of User Experience at Atech, a Brazilian company dedicated to the development of solutions for command and control systems, said it’s not about governing but collaboration.

“Local governments want smart cities but alone they will never reach that goal even if they have state-of-the-art infrastructure or digital technology,” he explained. “Governments must organise themselves first, they must work in an integrated manner and optimise internal communications.”

Burity added that he has visited municipalities in Brazil and in all of them he noted the lack of integration.

“I met a local government that had 87 different communication systems! They work in silos, they do not speak, it is slow and the consequence of this is terrible attention to the citizen.”

Sergio Andrade, Director of Agenda Pública, a third sector entity that supports local governments in the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals says that administrators must get out of the box and open their minds to improve management and transparency.

“The municipalities are like dinosaurs … they don’t know what is happening at their own feet, they do not listen and that is why it is important to encourage incubators and hackathons because young people are discovering specific solutions for local problems,” said Hélio L. Costa. Professor, Federal University of Alfenas, Minas Gerais.

He added it is necessary to take advantage of human resources to elevate the quality of life of the people and find solutions from the base up.

“We can’t speak in an intelligent city if there are no mechanisms to inhibit corruption,” he said. “We need to use new technologies intelligently, but how are we going to reach that level? How are we going to integrate data and organise it?”

The meeting drew 150 Brazilian mayors along with representatives from national and international companies, universities, entrepreneurs, academics and others who discussed mobility, e-governance and development for smart cities.

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