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Martín Busacca

Smart Cities vs Megalopolis. Which model suits Latin America?

- By 2050, almost all of Latin America will live in urban centers. How do we organize our cities?

Smart Cities vs Megalopolis. Which model suits Latin America?

It is estimated that there are more than [7,713 million people] in the world ( and in Latin America the rate of urbanization is the highest on the planet. According to the United Nations, 90% of the region's population will live in cities by 2050 ( . In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, large urban conglomerates increasingly implement technological tools to solve the problems that large cities present: insecurity, poverty, inequality, mobility and environmental impact, among others, but they still do not reach levels of efficiency and urban coordination of cities from other regions of the world. The planning of a city is then a necessity and a challenge in the face of population growth.

Smart Cities

The concept of Smart City is typical of this century. It is based on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in different characteristics of the city. Its population is usually between 1 and 3 million people. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) established, in a joint effort with the study Cities In Motion Index (CIMI), some of the characteristics of the city that contemplate its application: Social cohesion, Human capital, International projection, Mobility and Transportation, Environment, Technology, Urban Planning, Public Management and Governance. Examples like these are seen in the implementation of electric public vehicles, mobile applications for administrative procedures, comprehensive surveillance systems with facial and/or biometric recognition, free WIFI throughout the city, etc.

"A smart city is one that places people at the center of development, incorporates information and communication technologies in urban management and uses these elements as tools to stimulate efficient government information, which includes the processes of collaborative planning and citizen participation. By promoting integrated and sustainable development, smart cities become more innovative and competitive, attractive and resilient, thus improving the lives of their citizens and entrepreneurs.”\_e\_ideas6/

Medellín, the most Smart city in Latin America.

According to the ranking Smart City, Index 2020, carried out by the Institute for Management Development (IMD) the Colombian city is ranked as the smartest in the region at number 72 globally. MEDATA and the MiMedellín platform are examples of technological ideas to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. The city has invested 2.34% of its GDP in technological innovation, high-precision medicine, and Big Data management.


When a group of cities or urban agglomerates are interconnected, they are called "megalopolis" or "city region". Geography is a very important factor in determining your merger as well as your transportation system and productivity. Its population is not less than 10 million people and it has at least two metropolises. One of the first examples arose in the United States with the Bos-Wash Megalopolis (from Boston to Washington). Its GDP is currently 4.5 trillion dollars. The unification of transport, housing and commercial parks are the keys to the development of megacities. Its high number of inhabitants and its vast territory require a greater investment in ICT to develop effective systems in order to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants.

Saint Paul

The Brazilian city currently has more than 12.33 million inhabitants and 22 million if the metropolitan areas are considered. It is the most productive city in the country with 33.9% of Brazil's GDP. The implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) allowed regional competitiveness in terms of productivity but not so much in terms of solutions in terms of security, housing crisis and optimal levels of supply of public services.

Which model to use?

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) represent solutions to the traditional problems of large cities. Its implementation requires planning, analysis and investment. Latin America has cities with large numbers of inhabitants. Its growth and evolution over the last few years have led governments to rethink the diagram of the city. Both models point to the same thing: cities with hyper-connectivity, self-sufficiency and high production rates. The number of inhabitants, the geography of the city and the human capital that the city possesses could serve as guides to think about which city model is the best option.



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Busacca, Martín. “Ciudades Inteligentes vs Megalópolis. ¿Qué modelo le conviene a Latinoamérica?.” CEMERI, 25 sept. 2022,