Rio de Janeiro has a population of more than 6 million people and is the fourth largest city in Latin America. According to an estimation made by the UN, it is expected that by 2040 65% of the world will live in cities. Therefore, cities as Rio de Janeiro will have problems dealing with housing challenges, congestion, water supply, among others. To anticipate on this problems, the city is investing in smart city projects across the city.

Rio de Janeiro’s Centro de Operações and Contact Portal

The city of Rio de Janeiro has been affected in the past few years with problems such as sudden rains. This on its own turn cause big tragedies such as landslides. Furthermore, crime levels have also climbed to disturbing levels during the 1990’s and 2000’s. To help this, the city opened its Centro de Operações in 2010. The Center of Operations has been created as an effort to promote quality of its policies through the use of technology and connectivity.

This office helps with traffic surveillance, security, weather forecasting, electricity and gas providers and exchanges data among themselves to increase the service efficiency. The use of the center has proven to be successful. During 2012, heavy rainfall months the Center of Operations was able to interchange data between the various city departments. Ultimately this led to a 25% decrease in time taken to respond to traffic accidents.

Furthermore, the local government also has been making use of smart city projects that are focused on the use of smartphones. The local government believes that this enables them to make use of the technologies being used by citizens.

How Rio de Janeiro is Making Use of Smartphones

Many cities adopt the use of new technology has one of the key steps in becoming a smart city, however, this was not the case for Rio de Janeiro. The city’s head of planning and control at the Municipal Transport Agency Guilherme Wilson said that to become a smart city it was not necessary to adopt new technology. Instead, they decided to make use of the fact that people make use of smartphones. This can be a good source of information for companies and governments.

Rio de Janeiro is making use of the fact that its citizens make use of smartphones and therefore focusing their projects on this aspect. The improvement being experienced across the sectors of the city has been made possible due to the good collaboration between the public and private sector.

Vádeônibus App

This app, allows the Cariocas to figure out the best bus routes. Furthermore, this information system is based on the use of georeferencing technology. The user is provided with a couple of alternative routes to choose from and they can make the best choice based on their own wishes. Linking smartphone usage and the possibility to choose bus routes does more than just improve transport efficiency in the city. According to Guilherme Wilson:

“By the end of the year, all buses will have facial recognition technology,” he told the conference audience. “This helps identify and monitor people running from the law.”

In this case, not only does the Vádeônibus app improve the life of citizens, but it is also expected that in the near future it will help the police to identify citizens that are running away from the law. In the long term, this could provide good possibilities to make the city safer and provide a more efficient way to catch criminals.

Waze App

Furthermore, the city is also making use of the Waze app. This app focuses on connecting drivers and helps people create local driving communities that together can focus on the quality improvement of everyone’s daily driving. Moreover, Waze is able to map closures, hazards, incidents and traffic jams. All this information can be accessed on a real-time basis by the user. Flavia Rosario, Marketing Director for Navigation app Waze said:

“We can integrate data with the city’s traffic management centers. It creates communication between the city and its citizens.”

Conclusion

The city of Rio de Janeiro might still have many challenges to be faced before the city can finally say that they have achieved the smart city status. However, with this projects the city is slowly laying the foundation for great smart city projects initiatives. The smart city concept is growing across many cities around the world and it is also gaining pace in Rio de Janeiro.