Industry 4.0 for smart sustainable cities in Latin America

Industry 4.0 for smart sustainable cities in Latin America

BUENOS AIRES, 30 May 2018 – Innovative policies and regulatory frameworks are key to harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to revolutionize urban infrastructures and improve the quality of life of people in Latin America. This was a key conclusion of the over 250 participants in the 1st Forum on AI and IoT in Smart Sustainable Cities in Latin America held from 29-30 May.

Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Argentina’s Ministry of Modernization, together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other organizations, the Forum explored the role of new technologies – including high-speed, resilient, low-latency connectivity and technologies such as distributed computing, the IoT, machine learning and AI – in addressing urban challenges and shaping smarter and more sustainable cities.

“The transition to Smart Sustainable Cities is crucial to sustainable development. Rates of urbanization show no signs of slowing. This urbanization gives rise to significant challenges for city leaders,” said Chaesub Lee, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, during his opening remarks. “New technologies, however, present us with new opportunities to meet these challenges.

“Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are everywhere – and that means data is being generated everywhere. We have too much data for humans to analyze. We need smarter ways to make sense of this data – here we see the value of AI.”

Cities consume the most resources of the world, cause massive greenhouse gas emissions, but are only a fraction of earth’s landmass. In Latin America, cities are home to nearly 80 per cent of the region’s population, a number likely to increase in the future. This makes it one of the most urbanized regions in the world.

“The way cities have been governed and developed in the past cannot continue in the future, and smart solutions for reducing the environmental footprint and urban poverty, as well as for addressing increased vulnerability to the effects of climate change, will be pivotal to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation.

“Industry 4.0 technologies, especially AI-enhanced urban transportation, smart grids, renewable energy, waste and water management, and urban farming, will not only reduce CO2 emissions, but may also improve energy, water and food security, and effectively address climate change and environmental issues.”

In the Forum’s outcome document – the Buenos Aires Declaration – the participants made a call for action, including the need to raise awareness of the role of AI and IoT in smart city development; to revamp public policies to prepare for an AI future; to promote the production and supply of smart technologies; to encourage public-private collaboration and partnership; to leverage the potential of AI in securing the IoT; to build a platform for sharing best practices and data; and to incorporate AI into public services.

“Without taking actions and making cities smart and sustainable in developing countries, we will fall short of achieving the SDGs. UNIDO remains committed to foster the smart sustainable city approach in developing countries,” Calzadilla-Sarmiento said.

The Forum brought together leading specialists in the field, from city planners to engineers, designers, policymakers, government officials, regulators, academia, industry and standards experts.

Read the Buenos Aires Declaration here (in Spanish).

Related ITU article: ‘Buenos Aires Declaration’ captures Latin America’s commitment to Smart Sustainable Cities

Find out more about the event here.

Have a look at the ITU Flickr album here.

For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento


UNIDO Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation