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Op-Ed: Digital transformation and development of smart cities

In recent years we have seen in Latin America a rushed process of urbanization, which has brought several challenges for the region.

In turn, it has given visibility to the great contrasts that still exist in our countries, being that although much of the population of the region lives in cities, there are still many people living in rural areas who do not have access to even basic services.

We witness how technology and digitization play an increasingly important role in cities and people. We clearly see that the more technological the cities are, they are also more orderly, more manageable, safer and offer better quality of life.

It is a fact that the digital transformation of cities is no longer a thing of the future or something that is read about in a magazine article or seen on television. Innovation, data collection and emerging technologies make cities around the world in potential nurseries for intelligence, which can be maximized as long as their environment and people allow it.

In this context, it is important to become aware that by 2050 it is expected that the world ‘s urban population will be twice what it is currently. According to the United Nations, Latin America’s urban population will reach some 89% of the total population.

In that picture, the most important issue for citizens, entrepreneurs, politicians and educators should be how to help develop more sustainable, efficient and inclusive cities.

The common goal should be to achieve cities where problems such as insecurity, pollution, lack of access to financial services, etc. can be solved in an efficient and innovative way and using technology to our advantage.

Take the example of urban mobility: four years ago, it was virtually impossible catch a taxi on the street without cash in our pocket. Today, in many cities it is virtually impossible to take a taxi without using a mobile application.

And it makes sense. Because it is faster, easier, safer, and more convenient. PayPal, like many other companies, is strongly betting on smart urban mobility and is investing in disruptive technologies that make life easier for people. In addition, it focuses on making alliances that provide tools to users and expand their payment options, making mobile commerce grow and for consumers to have faster and more secure experiences.

This is how emerging technologies contribute significantly. Cloud services, Big Data and the famous 5G network are examples of technologies that help improve the quality of life in cities. The Internet of Things is key to developing systems that allow interaction between personal smart devices with intelligent systems in smart cities, aside from being a great platform to increase the efficiency of transport systems.

We must understand that cities are the economic engine of countries. And for a city to be able to move forward and evolve, it must be based on smart systems that help them be more efficient and independent. Smart cities can only bring benefits … promote new economic development models, promote industry growth, and improve the preservation of natural resources, among several other advantages.

Our responsibility as innovative companies and developers of digital transformation is to participate in the creation of elements that build smart cities.

It’s not just about investing in them to generate profits, we must be smart citizens who firmly believe in this concept and contribute so new technologies are truly transformative.

Author Federico Gómez-Schumacher, is general manager for PayPal in Brazil and Mexico.

PayPal believes in equal access to safe, affordable and easy-to-use financial services are an essential part of a smart city. We strive to connect people and businesses with the technology tools and services they need, to create opportunities and improve their financial health.

We believe that the only way forward is making technology our best ally.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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