The second term of the current Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, brought the creation of two new ministries into the organization of the Government of the City; one of them is the new Ministry of E-Government or “Modernization."
This new governmental agency aims to bring the much discussed subject of smart cities to realization, using information technologies to help the city government engage Buenos Aires' citizens.
The use of information technologies (I.T.) for producing smart cities has always been somewhat theoretical and elusive compared to application because in all honesty, few people really know what a smart city is, or what I.T. can do for a city.
And there’s that "evolution" proposed by the Government of the City: engaging Buenos Aires' problems by innovating management processes through the use of technology. With the final goal of providing simple and quick solutions and maximizing the citizens' time.
These solutions are directed to make people’s life easier, including:
- The creation of BAWiFi, one of the largest networks of wireless internet in the world, providing free WiFi in public spaces, libraries, museums, subway stations and BRT stations;
- Digital registry that allows the registration of birth certificates online - saving hours of bureaucracy;
- Improving transparency by publishing all City Government and public administration data online;
- Smartphone applications as tools provided by the government to access information from cultural activities - to government and taxation services.
The government of Buenos Aires’ efforts are indeed very laudable and its being complemented right now with the creation of a special higher education institute for training in a wide range of subjects: Neighborhood Urban Planning, Taxation, Mobility and Transportation, and even how to drive official vehicles from the city.
The question is now, how to make that evolution towards technology and information available to all citizens, to also influence democracy and the way the government governs?
There are two proposals of internet citizen participation. Online platforms such as Legislemos.org or El Partido de la Red, which inform inhabitants about bills and draft laws being discussed in the city, with the ability to vote if they are in favor or against them, but this again, is not enough. New technologies, such as mobile applications, should reach these areas too - if we strive for an evolution of the city.
How has technology improved citizen participation in your community?
Credits: Images provided by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires and Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.