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Project Summary


Over the last two decades, Smart Cities have gained notable traction within government, business and academia. Government agencies and institutions, often in collaboration with private sector corporations, have increasingly adopted Smart City approaches and strategies within their management programmes and policies to tackle the complex issues of current urban development, which affect large segments of the population. However, Smart City initiatives tend to be top-down, techno-centric and expensive solutions which often aim to articulate urban management with entrepreneurial strategies. As neoliberal policies have been questioned for widening the gap between rich and poor, it could also be argued that smart city approaches to urban development do not effectively address the most pressing issues that vulnerable communities face. Although the need to focus on social and human components of urban policy is widely acknowledged as part of the range of issues ICT can readily improve, it is important to evaluate how these strategies perform in practice. Thus, it is a key component future research agendas must be to find ways in which communities can themselves use information technologies in order to address real-life needs with context-specific solutions, using local knowledge and community assets.

Following the strand of previous research projects based in Medellín, a series of methodological steps were established in order to analyze four issues from the top-down and bottom-up approaches: 1) smart city concept, 2 ) data, use and access to information and technologies, 3) co-creation and citizen participation methodologies and, 4) impacts of identified citizen initiatives. The key methodology was mainly composed of:

  • Review of international, national and local literature relating to smart city solutions and community-led data management

  • Semi-structured interviews with a set of key local actors

  • International workshop on Smart Cities and Community Data Management


The international workshop on Smart Cities and Community Data Management, which was held in Medellín, Colombia in May 2019. It aimed to understand the impacts that the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and initiatives of smart cities in Colombia, and if these processes have supported the production and management of data at the community level to improve the quality of life, especially in sectors of the population exposed to high levels of poverty and vulnerability. Through this workshop, we have begun to establish an international network of knowledge to seek innovative solutions to social and economic problems within the context of the smart city in Colombia and Latin America, making appropriate use of information technologies. One of the aims of the event is to establish the bases to generate new joint research proposals on this subject.


Medellín, Colombia


Heriot-Watt University

Research Team

Harry Smith

Gabriela M. Medero

Stephanie Crane De Narváez

Wilmar Edgardo Castro

Funding Body

Global Challenges Research Fund via the Scottish Funding Council

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smart cities and community data management in Medellín, colombia
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