Mexico. Evolution & perspectives of Smart Cities in Latin America

México DF

Mexico City Distrito Federal (DF) was chosen by the Fast Company Magazine in 2013 as one of the 8 smartest cities in Latin America . According to the IESE “Cities in Motion Index 2014”by the University of Navarra, Mexico City DF ranked 101 among 135 smart cities in the world. At a regional level, Mexico City ranked 2 and 7 in the two aforementioned evaluations. The positions (among 135 cities) achieved by Mexico City DF in each of the aspects evaluated by the IESE “Cities in Motion Index 2014” are listed below.

Gráfico México DF

In the aforementioned evaluation, Mexico City DF showed considerable improvement in goverment issues and in its international projection . The Goverment issues dimension includes the design and application of electronic goverment plans, the area on which the analysis in the current article is focused. The city ranked the lowest of all cities in the analysis in terms of human capital .

It should be taken into account that the current article series on Latin America only includes the cities indicated in the Fast Company Magazine evaluation. This is why neither Monterrey nor Guadalajara (both mexican cities) are analyzed despite their being included in the evaluation by the University of Navarra.

In the current article, the second issue on the Evolution and perspectives of Smart Cities in Latin America, we analyze the smart territory advances and practices undertaken by Mexico City DF. For a better understanding of its relevance and level of articulation, they are organized in the five (5) components of analysis described in the Manual.gob methodology : institutional capacity, legal framework, technology management, smart services and relationship with users.

I. Institutional capacity: A public policy on smart cities already exists, and/or an office or government agency is created to draw up and manage the smart territory strategy or programme.

The Economic and Social Council of Mexico City DF is the organism in charge of devising the long-term Agenda for the development of the Distrito Federal as a digital and knowledge-based city. The Mayor of Mexico City DF is appointed Head of Government, and he is the public leader in charge of approving and leading the development of the Agenda. The Agenda is carried out under the technical leadership of the following branches of the city government:

  • Dirección General de Gobernabilidad de Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicaciones de la Contraloría General del Distrito Federal. (“General Management Office for Information Technologies and Communications Governance of the DF Public Spending Office”).
  • Comisión de Gobierno Electrónico del Distrito Federal (“DF Electronic Government Commission”).

The Agenda for the development of the Distrito federal (DF) as a digital and knowledge-based city is funded by public resources that belong to the Federal Administration, devoted to the areas listed below (among others) and without precluding the development of public-private participation schemes:

  • Evolution of city infrastructure devoted to information technology and communications.
  •  Digital inclusion, digital culture and human capital training.
  • Technology-assisted education
  • Fostering the digital economy and knowledge.
  • Research, technological development and innovation.
  • Technological standards and technological adoption.
  • Resources and services based on Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge-based technologies, public and social in nature.
  • Electronic government.
  • Cyber security.

II. Legal framework: a framework of regulations is developed that targets the use of information and communication technologies as management tools and platforms for public administrations and cities.In February 2012, the Legislative Assembly of the DF (Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal) issued the Law for the development of the DF as a digital and knowledge-based city. Among others, the Law states the following general aspects:

  • Universal, equal and affordable access to services involving Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge-based Technologies provided by the Public Administration is a right for all citizens in the DF (art. 10).
  • Affordable, reliable and high-speed internet connection will be promoted in academic and research institutions located in the DF, in order to foster its essential function of technology and knowledge production (art. 15)
  • Digital competence development will be promoted at all stages of education, training and human resources development, based on usability standards that ensure easy system management to the different target population groups, particularly those with different abilities and vulnerable groups (art. 21).
  • Public Administration will foster the adoption of principles and regulations in all aspects involving metadata, in a way that fosters cooperation and efficient use of the collected information and scientific and technological data (art. 33).
  • Training and professionalization for developers of socially-oriented computer applications will be fostered (art. 34).
  • Great support will be given to the required investment and regulation to achive the introduction of applications involving patient telemonitoring, online doctor appointments and control of supplies of essential pharmaceutical drugs. (art. 35)
  • All computer applications belonging to the Public Administration and targeting interaction with citizens will be required to have interfaces that comply with high-standard accessibility and usability rates for its target audience (art. 36).
  • All websites developed by the Public Administration will be required to comply with rules established to that effect by the Contraloría General del Distrito Federal (“DF General Public Spending Office”) (art. 36).
  • Implementation and development of Information and Communication Technologies in strategic areas for the city will be promoted. Such areas include: energy, transport, city planning, health, environmental issues, education, civil protection and security, as well as all aspects of government and public management, according to what is established in the General Programme for the Development of the DF (art. 42).

III. Technology management: Actions are defined to efficiently include Information and Communication Technologies in territory management.

México DigitalIn order to transform and help establish Mexico City DF as a smart territory, the Contraloría General del Distrito Federal , (“DF General Public Spending Office”), through the General Management Office for Information Technologies and Communications Governance is already working on the following aspects:

  • The action protocol for the DF Electronic Government Commission which was created back in 2010, was devised. The DF Electronic Government Commission is the Advisory Unit focused on the strategic planning for the use of Information and Communication Technologies in cross-cutting modernization and innovation projects in Public Administration Offices.
  • The Interinstitutional Strategic Model for ICT (MEITIC in Spanish) was formulated, aimed at the assembly of ICT strategic projects by means of the Electronic Government Commission.
  • A sectoral project Agenda was defined, which includes the following lines and is developed under the technical leadership of the Electronic Government Commission:
    • e-Government
    • e-Justice
    • e-Education
    • e-Health
    • e-Finances
    • e-Transport
  • The ICT Interinstitutional Strategic Model (MEITIC in Spanish) assembles public entities involved in each line so that they may be coordinate and develop common projects, as well as replicate and implement the best practices in other organizations in the DF.
  • The Contraloría General del Distrito Federal (“DF General Public Spending Office”), through the General Management Office for Information Technologies and Communications Governance is responsible for the adjustment between projects in the Agenda and MEITIC with the DF General Development Programme, in order to guarantee the desired progress in digital strategy and innovation.

IV. Smart services: Conditions are created to improve and increase the offer of ICT-based information and services for citizens and companies.

The main smart city services being developed in Mexico DF in safety, health and open data areas are described below:

Security: Surveillance cameras are being installed for predictive analysis. 8,000 cameras have already been installed, and 7,000 cameras are currently being installed. 1,000 cameras are already installed in the city underground. 3,000 cameras will be installed in highly complex (from a social point of view) housing units (colonias) in the city.

Health: 3,5 M inhabitants have no access to the National Government healthcare system in Mexico City DF. They are cared for in 200 first-level clinics and 23 hospitals in the city. To increase efficiency in the local healthcare system services and make them automatic, a system for healthcare information is being developed, which is the technology platform to hold the use of digital clinical records and the system that will enable local and federal hospitals to be connected and interwoven. To this day, 5 hospitals in the city have already been integrated in the system for healthcare information, and our goal is to reach 35 hospitals in 2014.

Open Data: Among the cross-cutting city projects, one with a most considerable progress is the Mexico DF open data portal It offers more than 1,000 datasets in several subjects, including public transport, shopping, education, culture, health, civil protection, environmental issues and public services. Open data have enabled citizens to develop applications for administrative processing, such as contributing their predial taxes (a tax on property such as flats, houses or offices); paying for traffic tickets (fines); sending requests for having potholes in the road mended, a water leakage tackled or the trees pruned; keeping informed of alternative routes when driving and checking air quality in the city.

V. Relationship with users: Actions or initiatives are fostered to engage citizens in the development of the knowledge society and in the management of public affairs.

The evolution and execution of the Agenda for the development of the Distrito Federal as a digital and knowledge-based city are based on the participation of all involved parties in the territory through the Consejo Económico y Social de la Ciudad de México (“Economic and Social Council of Mexico City”) and on citizen engagement in the discussion of public affairs.

In 2013, public consultations were opened regarding the reach and contents of the ICT projects included in the Agenda for the development of the Distrito Federal as a digital and knowledge-based city. Citizens could also give their opinion on the location of surveillance cameras.

Lastly, the Ventanilla Única de Transparencia (“Transparency Point of Single Contact”) enables citizens to access public information from administration offices in the DF using a simple, easy-to-access, user-friendly website.

Montañas de México


The population of Mexico DF is larger than that of all other capitals in Latin America and the Caribbean together. The size and population of Mexico City pose challenges and difficulties to the local government, which are to be tackled unavoidably by means of Information and Communication Technologies. In such cities, processes such as registration, planning, management, funding, capacity generation and governance of ICTs require reliable, long-term institutional processes to achieve cooperation and engagement from all social agents in the territory. The principle on which technology experts lean, which states that you should think big, start small and move fast, is particularly important in cities such as Mexico DF, where increasing citizen demands require the Public Administration to be forward-looking, hard-working, cautious and careful, and makes no room for improvisation, lack of persistence, procrastination or shortcuts when it comes to tackling the territory problems.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Engineer Marco Antonio Quiroz Aguayo, Technical Secretary at the DF Electronic Government Commission, for his support in writing this article.



We use our own and third-party cookies to enable and improve your browsing experience on our website. If you go on surfing, we will consider you accepting its use.