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Smart Governance Conference – Day 1 Recap

Today concluded the first day of IRI’s two-day Smart Governance Conference in Miami, “How Smart Governance is Transforming Local Government in the Americas.”

The event gathered public and private sector representatives from the region, civil society organizations and technology and governance practitioners to share experiences, challenges and advances on the use of technology for good governance, and showcase some of their projects, methodologies and toolkits.

The conference has thus far highlighted how smart governance initiatives are transforming local governments by equipping public officials with skills and resources to involve citizens in decision-making and facilitate their engagement in implementing public policies. Such initiatives are providing local governments with digital tools, like cloud databases, that allow support staff to store data more efficiently and collaborate more freely; open source tools that make it easy and less costly for groups to make decisions collaboratively and inclusively; and crowd-sourcing tools that make it easy to manage processes and feedback from large numbers of people. Such initiatives serve to liaise citizen needs with public officials to promote citizen participation and civic mindedness, and as such, are establishing citizen-centered approaches to how local governments interact with communities and provide public services.

Mi Medellin (My Medellin), for example, is the city’s web platform to inform and receive feedback from citizens on city planning efforts. The platform is led by a public-private partnership with Ruta N, a corporation created by the city of Medellin to promote the development of innovative technology-based businesses that increase the competitiveness of the city and the region. Today, Mi Medellin has created a collaborative space where citizens, entrepreneurs and public officials can identify priorities and share ideas and proposals to solve issues of importance to the community. This model is fomenting a sense of community and is transforming the way different actors interact and collaborate to solve shared challenges.

Local governments across the region can easily follow Medellin’s example. Advances in high-speed broadband and in data storage now offer municipalities the opportunity to buy information and communication technology (ICT) services as and when required, rather than having to invest in a fixed infrastructure of hardware and software that is both expensive to buy and costly to maintain. Municipalities can also invest in open source tools that allow making changes to software systems, rather than having to rely on the original developers—an approach that enables faster, more flexible and less costly systems that meet community’s customized needs. This is critical for local governments that want to go digital but rely on limited budgets.

Open technology solutions are also enhancing collaboration between local governments and the private sector. Such collaborations have the potential to bring in new sources of financing for funding public infrastructure projects and service needs. This enables local governments to harness the expertise and efficiencies that the private sector can bring to the delivery of certain services traditionally procured and delivered by the public sector.

For example, iLifebelt,  a Central American firm that specializes in digital marketing and works closely with local governments in the region, unveiled during the conference its fifth Social Networks Research Study measuring the use of social media networks to enable public officials, the private sector and citizens to promote and implement initiatives that benefit communities through reliable statistical data. Such collaborations are building the technical capacity of local governments to better identify community needs and enable more efficient and constructive responses. They are also spurring new ways different actors can work together to gather actionable information to better inform policy-making.

Another example is Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities initiative, which helps local governments address urban challenges utilizing ICTs. This includes remote access to public services as well as City Infrastructure Management solutions for connected parking, traffic, and safety and security. These may help address traffic jams, overcrowding, pollution, resource constraints, inadequate infrastructure and the need for continuing economic growth. They also provide the information and services needed to create more livable cities, and help them thrive.

Thus far, the conference and its’ diverse partner showcasing is offering valuable insights on how technology can transform local governments, promote collaboration across a landscape of actors and make public services more efficient and responsive to the communities they serve. It is further demonstrating how local governments can take advantage of ICTs to transform physical communities into connected communities that can realize good governance, spur economic growth and enhance citizen’s quality of life.

Join us via live stream at and follow the conversation at #SGIRI to find out what the future holds for smart governance initiatives in the Americas.




Posted by

Christian González

Program Assistant, Latin America and the Caribbean Division