Montevideo forum closes with agreements on Smart Sustainable Cities

The Smart Sustainable Cities Forum held in Montevideo, Uruguay has come to an end with participants agreeing that smart sustainable cities are the future for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Specifically highlighted was the importance of improving the efficiency of city operations, the quality of life for citizens, and growing local economies through policies and standards. ICTs, attendees agreed, are a key element of any smart sustainable city.

Participants also noted the need to improve water management resources; and the need to provide citizens greater information on the level of electromagnetic fields (EMF) in cities, taking account of the proliferation of mobile telephone masts.

Alicia Fernández, Coordinator, Academic Committee of Water, AUGM, Argentina neatly summed-up the conclusion of the week-long event with the following: “Only the commitment of the community guarantees sustainability”.

Over 250 participants from the private and public sectors, international organizations and NGOs took part in the event held 11-14 March. They discussed issues related to urban and rural development, e-waste management, human exposure to EMF, smart water management and the role of the academia in fostering ICTs to protect the environment.

The topic of EMF saw some heated debate with Emilie van Deventer, from the World Health Organization, detailing results from available research and Sergio de Cola, Director of the Uruguayan National Department of Telecommunications and Media Audiovisual Services, highlighting the need for more coordination, information sharing and capacity building activities among all stakeholders.

A final session focused on the role of academic institutions in saving the planet through ICTs. While Leonardo Steinfeld, Department of Electronics, Faculty of Engineering, Universidad de la República, Uruguay focused on the role of ICTs in agriculture, others spoke of the importance of the adoption of ‘Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)’ which they said would promote the most efficient platforms for the creation and exchange of software and knowledge. The role of universities in supporting the integration of new sustainable technologies in traditional activities was also highlighted.

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