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Why Rio's citywide control center has become world famous

By now, Rio de Janeiro's Operations Center has become world famous as a smart city exemplar. Indeed, we published a video case study of Rio's control center ourselves. Yet even though it has been widely covered, I think you'll want to take a look at the excellent CNN story linked below.

Rio Mayor Eduardo PaesYou see, IBM's competitors have started to pooh-pooh the Operations Center. "It's just 20 video feeds on a wall," snarked one executive recently. Actually, there's much more to it than that, and this story lets you glimpse a couple examples.

There's the smart map that analyzes 60 different layers of data from sensors around the city.  Then there's the weather forecasting system that helps Rio send emergency crews to where they WILL be needed. With that and other tools, the city has decreased emergency response times by a full 30%.

And read it for this quote from Rio's mayor, which illustrates one of our sector's greatest benefits. Mayor Eduardo Paes (pictured at left) told CNN "the biggest benefits are the bad things that don't happen, that won't come to reality because of it." – Jesse Berst


Mayor Paes commissioned IBM - a Smart Cities Council Lead Partner - in 2010 to set up the Operations Center following a storm that killed 68 people, according to the CNN story. Before the center, city departments were spread all over the city. Now more than 20 city agencies are integrated into one central command center where they can see in real-time what's happening around the city and quickly find solutions to problems – the result is that 30% drop in emergency response times.

Rio operations center"It's the place where we gather the minds of the city, we gather the departments but we also gather the technology. I would call that a technological center or urban app or urban technology," the mayor told CNN.

Reinforcing the mayor's focus on making Rio safer and improving its infrastructure is the fact the city is set to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics and Paralympic Games two years later.

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.