Global digital technology is impacting many cities across the world. Panama is one of the smart city pioneers in Latin America. This is important because not only are they the connection between North and South America, but this city also has a 48-mile canal that is a facilitator of trade worldwide.

Becoming a Smart City

The city of Panama is now looking for ways to improve their land-based connectivity. This will help the city to move towards becoming a smart city. Becoming a Smart City involves more than just installing different technological solutions. According to the city’s mayor, it also involves providing guarantees of sustainable human development. Becoming a smart city is more than implementing technology, sensors and the use of phones by citizens. The mayor of the city of Panama, truly believes that moving towards a smart city should also focus on ensuring to offer better living conditions for its citizens. Panama’s first step was to introduce a metro system. This was implemented in order to reduce the notoriously congested traffic in the city. Moreover, the authorities of the city have partnered with JCDecaux and provider WIGO. Together, they have recently installed free wireless internet access points. Dozens of these free wireless internet access points are located at bus stops. This will provide travelers with information about the city and their journey. Travelers will be able to see the nearest bus and at what time it will arrive. JCDecaux believes that connectivity is essential in building the smart city of the future. This justifies their last move to join forces with mobile phone networks and allow them to install small cells in their street furniture. The aim of this is to improve phone and data networks in the densest urban areas. This allows the involved parties to provide citizens with more services and messages of interest to the general public from the city’s government.

Digital Initiatives

Furthermore, the government of Panama has also undertaken more steps to reach their smart city status. The government is also providing free online access to their Internet Para Todos initiative. This is made possible with the installation of 328 free hotspots throughout the country thanks to a partnership with Cisco. The collaboration between these two parties includes smart building design, a city network platform, citizen collaboration platform, along with different services such as smart safety, smart lighting, smart waste management, smart parking and smart traffic management. In addition, citizens are also able to alert the city’s authorities and fellow residents. They are able to alert them on matters that need attention or a response by using the app Smartship. The changes towards a more digital environment in Panama City have also brought along changes in the rest of the country. These digital changes have allowed citizens to cut the amount of time and money spent on day-to-day requirements. Importantly, it includes things such as paying taxes, accessing municipal information and making local authority services more transparent.

Further Impacted Sectors

The impacts of the digitalization have not only been noticed in the public sector. The smart city trend is also bringing along changes to the country’s private sector. An example is how the historic Casco Viejo neighbourhood has introduced a centralized valet parking scheme. This scheme includes the use of electronic tags that are stored in the cloud. This allows drivers to drop their cars anywhere within the district. From this location, the car will then be driven to a park outside of the district. Drivers are then able to pick up their car at any valet booth when they are ready.

Conclusion

Panama is a great example of how by becoming a smarter city they are able to optimize many sectors. The city is stepping into a new phase and bringing the trend of smart cities to Latin America. Not only will they improve the services provided by the public sector, but moreover it also has a big impact on the private sector. Overall, this will increase the possibility to improve the life of their citizens and the use of technology.