Interoperability as innovation engine for Smart Cities in Latin America

Smart Cities are gaining traction in Latin America, where governments are investing to improve the use of resources and quality of life in the region’s burgeoning urban centers. Latin America counts several densely populated megacities of ten million-plus inhabitants, and city managers struggle to steer urban growth, keep pace with citizen’s needs, and mitigate the environmental impact.

The Latin America cities deploying the greatest numbers of Smart Cities applications include Santiago in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Bogotá and Medellín in Colombia, Mexico City in Mexico, which are piloting and scaling up solutions to enhance urban mobility, public security, energy distribution and utility management, as well as healthcare and housing services.

But smart technologies are not a sole prerogative of megacities. Even medium-sized communities are taking advantage of Internet of Things and digitalization to become more efficient while providing better services to residents and visitors. In Las Condes, Chile, the major and the city council are committed to constantly improve public governance and services for the benefit of the entire community, always taking care of citizens’ wellbeing and satisfaction.

Las Condes began its Smart City journey in 2018 by replacing most of the streetlights with energy-efficient LED lamps and implementing a wireless IoT network to manage and control public applications. Based on our Smart Urban Network, the cybersecure 6LoWPAN infrastructure currently enables key applications such as streetlighting, parking management, traffic surveillance, environmental monitoring, and more.

Interoperability springs up among the critical success factors of Smart City projects such as Las Condes. What is it about? Interoperability ensures that technology products and services – even from different vendors – can interact, exchange information, and work together seamlessly. Interoperability has many benefits for cities, including product commoditization with lower acquisition and management costs. But it is mainly a powerful innovation engine, since it drives future-proof projects where new applications can be added over time without concerns, minimizing obsolescence risks and integration costs.

We will discuss the benefits of interoperability and standard-based technologies for Latin America cities at Smart City Expo Bogotà, the trade fair taking place at Corferias Bogotá, Colombia from May 31 to June 2, 2023: join MinebeaMitsumi and our partner CELSA to learn more about our technologies and how they support smart projects for streetlighting, parking management, solid waste collection, environmental monitoring, and many more.

And don’t miss the session “El uso de estándares abiertos en los sistemas tecnológicos como motor de innovación y desarrollo económico de las ciudades” on June 1 - Solution Talk Plenaria 3 – to deep dive interoperability requirements and advantages with our regional sales manager Nelson Cubillos.

Contact us today to have a complimentary congress pass!


Zurich as human-focused City

From technology-centric to human-focused Smart Cities

Zurich, Oslo, and Canberra are at the top of the latest Smart City Index by IMD Business School. Having surveyed about 20,000 people from over 140 cities, the index delves into technology and how it is used to tackle urban challenges. European and Asian cities dominate the top 20, and – quite surprisingly – the 2023 ranking has a significant number of medium-sized cities such as Lausanne, Munich, and Bilbao in high positions, showing a strong ability to improve and move up.

This reflects a meaningful shift in the general understanding of Smart Cities. When we started talking about Smart Cities more than a decade ago, local governments were mainly challenged by energy efficiency and cost saving, so digitalization and process automation were their top concerns. That was the time – back in 2011 – when Paradox Engineering introduced its first solution for the remote monitoring and control of urban services.

Today, sustainability continues to be a mandatory goal, but there is a pressing call to move beyond and build open and innovative communities. This is not merely a semantic change. The IMD report flags it is a change in the way Smart Cities are nowadays designed and managed: no more technology-centric urban conglomerates, rather human-focused communities where sustainability and inclusion play a much larger role.

It’s the time of carbon neutral and climate friendly cities, where equity and diversity are among the key benchmarks for success. All these dimensions are now part of smart strategies and variously linked to quality of life and the ability of engaging tourists, talents, and investors. Simply put, today being smart means more than pioneering advanced technology, and relates to city attractiveness.

Smart technology increasingly supports urban planning and management. That’s the direction our Smart Urban Network evolved over time: we integrated key vertical applications such as streetlighting, parking management, solid waste collection, environmental monitoring, and more. Above all, it has become the open, interoperable network platform for cities willing to start and accelerate their smart journeys.

Learn more about our Smart Urban Network!

smart junction management

Smart junction management to improve road safety and urban mobility

Road safety is under a close scrutiny in many countries and cities around the world. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that almost 43,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways in 2022 — about the same number as 2021, but traffic fatalities increased by 10% from 2020 to 2021, and this is the largest year-to-year percentage increase since the agency started collecting data in 1975.

In Switzerland, the federal agency USTRA reported 241 fatalities and over 4 thousand severe casualties last year, with a relevant increase of accidents among car and e-bike drivers. In the UK, over 1,500 young drivers are killed or injured every year, so the government is in talks to ban new drivers under the age of 25 from carrying passengers in the car for the first six to twelve months of driving. At the same time, the Department for Transport confirmed a £47.5 million investment to enhance the safety of some of the most high-risk roads in England and support local councils in improving signage and making safer pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, junctions, and roundabouts.

As traffic volumes increase and the mix of circulating vehicles changes, managing road networks has become more challenging for city managers. Many cities have traffic signal control systems in place, but in most cases they are not designed to manage junctions and intersections dynamically or to dialogue with connected cars or vehicle-to-everything (V2X) systems.

Smart technologies can make the difference by enabling a more accurate collection of data from critical junctions and road intersections, and making them available for quicker and more effective decisions for adaptive junction and traffic management.

Smart junction solutions should feature three core elements: smart devices to capture vehicle and pedestrian movements (motion sensors, vehicle counters, IP cameras, Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems, and more); a robust and interoperable wireless network to collect and securely transmit data; a user-friendly central management software to allow efficient junction monitoring and management. AI-based algorithms can be beneficial by aggregating real-time information from various field sources and providing actionable predictions for data-driven decisions.

The immediate benefits of smart junction management relate to enhanced urban traffic management and improved road safety. But smart junctions can add value to the city experience by supporting medium- and long-term mobility and urban planning, reducing air and noise pollution, contributing to sustainable and climate friendly communities.


How can junction management solutions be integrated in smart urban networks and smart city infrastructures? Ask our experts!

air pollution

Air pollution: you can’t manage what you don’t measure

Air pollution is a major threat. According to the World Health Organization, it affects 99% of the world’s population and represents one of the three main causes of premature morbidity, resulting in nearly 7 million deaths globally in 2022.

Soot (fine particulate matter air pollution, PM 2.5) is among the most hazardous pollutants and many countries around the world have specific regulations in place. In Europe, the Zero Pollution Action Plan set the ambitious goal of having an environment free of harmful pollution by 2050 and cutting the annual limit value for PM 2.5 by more than half by 2030.

The United States has made major progress in reducing air pollution thanks to the Clean Air Act, but about 20.9 million people still live in areas exceeding current legal limits. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to strengthen the annual soot standard from a level of 12 micrograms to 9-10 micrograms per cubic meter, reflecting the latest scientific evidence to better protect public health.

However, the environmental organization NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) found that 118 US counties out of the 190 with average soot levels within current legal limits completely lack soot monitoring systems. “This area is home to more than 8 million people. This lack of local data collection reduces the accuracy of federal air quality forecasting […] and deprives people of crucial information they can use to better understand local air quality and protect their health”, writes the NRDC.

Can you manage air pollution if you don’t measure it? The answer is obviously no.

Governments and cities need real-time, localized, and accurate data about air quality – but also about temperature, urban heat, humidity, noise, and more – to watch changing environmental conditions and their impact on people’s health, while ensuring compliance with sustainability targets and regulations. Being environmental sensors a mature technology, nowadays they can turn from simple monitoring tools into the enablers of decision-making processes for healthier, safer, and more liveable cities.


Eager to learn how air quality and environmental sensors can contribute to citizen-centric, safe, and climate resilient urban communities? Watch our webinar – available on demand, free registration required – to have insights from Jaromir Beranek (City of Prague), Guillermo del Campo (CEDINT-UPM, University of Madrid), and Julia Arneri Borghese (Paradox Engineering).

Any question? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

zero waste cities

How to improve garbage collection in zero waste cities

The effort to reduce waste and increase recycling dates back to the late 1990s, when keywords such as ‘circular economy’ were yet to come. As climate change mitigation became a priority for national and local governments, the early 2000s saw a growing hype towards ‘zero waste’, an idea that the Zero Waste International Alliance officially defined as “the conservation of all resources (…) without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health”.

The ambitious goal was picked up by cities in the 2010s, given the improvement of solid waste management and recycling was acknowledged as one of the most effective ways to cut carbon footprint at local level. Policies and actual measures to achieve the zero-waste target (in most cases, it is set as a 90% diversion rate or higher) vary a lot, with many communities pausing or hindering their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Europe, Barcelona has recently committed to becoming a zero waste city by increasing separate waste collection rate to 67% by 2027 (the European average is about 48%) and reducing garbage generation per capita to 427 kg per year by 2027. The German Munich is walking a similar path, with local waste management company AWM acting to cut waste from households per capita to 310 kg per year by 2035 and reduce municipal garbage in landfills and waste incineration to a feasible minimum.

In the US, even cities with a stagnant recycling performance such as Chicago are hurrying up. Organics recycling was the initial focus of educational events and programs (composting systems were offered to community gardens to give residents an option for dropping off food scraps and use finished compost), but the city is also rethinking collection services to make them more efficient and effective.

Solid urban collection is indeed a pain point for many cities, which struggle to assess the best possible frequency and routes to ensure an adequate quality of service (bins to be emptied when and where needed) with cost and operational efficiency.

Here is where Smart Waste solutions can help. IoT-based technologies allow trash bins to be remotely connected and monitored, with data showing the fill level and the date and time of the latest collection, and generating alerts in case of fire, vandalism, or unauthorised bin movements.

By analysing bin-generated data, and correlating it through an intelligent routing software, waste operators can predict when containers will need emptying and dispatch trucks when really needed, or when the city prefers. This improves the quality of collection, generates efficiency and savings, and adds relevant benefits in terms of health, safety, and liveability – even in cities heading towards zero waste.


Want to learn more about our Smart Urban Network and how we help cities and utilities enhance solid waste management? Contact our Smart Waste experts!

Smart buildings are pivotal for carbon neutral cities

Smart buildings for carbon neutral cities

Residents in New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and St. Louis should better pay attention to local regulations limiting large buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage. As reported by Smart Cities Dive, these five cities will soon start to fine building owners who fail to comply with newly enacted or updated rules.

In New York, fines will start in 2024 for commercial buildings larger than 25,000 gross square feet exceeding the GHG emission limits set by the Climate Mobilization Act. San Francisco unveiled the goal of zero GHG emissions from large buildings by 2035, while specific emission and energy consumption standards will apply in Washington D.C. for privately owned buildings larger than 50,000 square feet starting 2026.

The decarbonization of buildings is a multifaceted challenge and, despite the urgent call for climate action in cities, it seems like the gap between building performance and the decarbonization targets is widening. According to the latest report by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, in 2021 operational energy demand for heating, cooling, lighting and equipment in buildings increased by around 4% from 2020 and 3% from 2019.

The building sector is seeking sustainable innovation. The use of alternative materials is increasingly explored, together with the integration of energy generation systems and CO2 capture and storage technologies. Today, a growing number of large buildings features IoT-enabled Building Management Systems (BMS) to monitor and control key equipment for lighting, heating, cooling, and video surveillance, as well as occupancy levels and operational effectiveness.

Tenants, building owners, and management operators can benefit from connected sensors, algorithms, and advanced analytics to live and work in a safer and more efficient environment. Lights are automatically switched off or dimmed if nobody is around, heating and cooling are adjusted to minimize power consumption without compromising individual comfort. These Smart Buildings technologies are successful in minimizing the environmental impact and the consumption of natural resources such as energy and water.

Energy-efficient buildings also generate cost saving opportunities and are even more inclusive. Think of automated door opening, voice control devices, and fall detection systems, providing easier accessibility for disabled people.

Smart buildings are pivotal for carbon neutral cities, said the UN Environment Programme during recent COP27 Climate Summit. Let’s not forget the building sector accounts for over 34% of overall energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions.

climate adaptation

World Cities Day 2022: climate adaption for a global sustainable future

The upcoming COP27 climate summit, starting November 6th in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, does not welcome good news. Scientific evidence shows that the planet’s warming is accelerating and 2022 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record. Although countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, their efforts remain insufficient, and the world is on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, well above the recommended threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

COP27 is expected to discuss and find solutions in five key action areas specifically nature, food, water, industry decarbonization, and climate adaptation. Let’s focus on the last one, climate adaptation.

About 3.3 billion people live in highly fragile climate contexts, and the most vulnerable communities – who are least responsible for climate change – are directly and massively impacted. At COP27, climate adaptation will be at the center of talks, calling for cities to play a big, decisive role.

Act Local to Go Global” is indeed the theme of World Cities Day 2022, celebrating today (October 31st) and recognizing the critical role of urban areas in achieving a global sustainable future. "We have only about 87 months, 380 weeks or 2600 days left to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The best way to do so is by ensuring our cities and communities are sustainable. Time to act is now,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

“Across a range of critical goals from poverty and hunger to gender equality and education we are not seeing progress, but backsliding. The consequences are dramatic: escalating climate chaos, growing poverty, rising inequalities, and more. We must change course and we can. This year’s theme of World Cities Day highlights how: ‘Act Local to Go Global.’ The goals are global in scope, but implementation is local. And that means implementation happens largely in cities”, echoed UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

How can cities locally act for climate adaptation? The Global Commission on Adaptation suggest the implementation of early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, and nature-based solutions, leveraging smart technologies to strengthen efforts and maximize results. The same Commission estimated that a global investment of $1.8 trillion globally in climate adaptation measures could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits by 2030.


Looking for innovative solutions to turn your city in a sustainable, climate-resilient community? PE Smart Urban Network can contribute to saving up to 80% power and related GHG emissions in streetlighting, improve parking management and solid waste collection, integrate sensors for effective environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and emergency support. Join us at Smart City Expo World Congress (Barcelona, 15-17 November 2022) to learn more and enjoy live demonstrations!

Smart City Expo World Congress

From Smart to Open Cities: be welcomed at Smart City Expo World Congress 2022

Smart Cities changed a lot in the last decade. Back in 2011, when we introduced our first solution for the remote monitoring and control of urban services, we were mainly challenged on process automation, energy efficiency, and cost saving.

Sustainability continues to be a mandatory goal for City leaders, but nowadays there is a pressing call to move beyond and build carbon neutral communities. It’s the time of Open Cities, shared innovation, and inclusion. And it’s even the time of cybersecurity, as public infrastructures and services are increasingly threatened by hackers and cybercriminals.    

We are delighted to invite you at the Smart City Expo World Congress, the leading international Smart City exhibition taking place in Barcelona (Spain) from 15 to 17 November 2022The event motto – Cities Inspired by People – remind us that cities must do their part to make the world a better place, but they are transformed through people, their creative power, and meaningful connections.

If you are visiting Smart City Expo World Congress, be welcomed at our booth – D81 in Hall 2 – to learn more about our flagship platform PE Smart Urban Network and how we can enable the smart journey of your city. Our experts will be pleased to introduce our solutions and services, show some demo and real-life experiences, and answer all your questions. 

 Don’t miss the events we will be hosting during the three days of the Congress: mark them in your agenda!  


Tuesday, 15 November 2022 at 11:00am 

“From Smart to Open Cities: IoT Enabling Urban Communities – the Las Condes case“ (Congress Area - Blue Room) 

Join Julia Arneri Borghese, Deputy CEO at Paradox Engineering, and Daniela Peñaloza Ramos, Mayor of Las Condes (Chile), to learn how the Internet of Things enabled the smart journey of this municipality. 


Wednesday, 16 November 2022 at 12:30am 

“The Security Challenge: Can Your City Be Smart and Cybersecure?” (Paradox Engineering/ MinebeaMitsumi booth - Hall2, D81)  

Open talk with Gianni Minetti, CEO at Paradox Engineering.  


Wednesday, 16 November 2022 at 1:30pm 

“Bettering Urban Design through City Analytics” (Congress Area - Red Room) 

Join Julia Arneri Borghese, Deputy CEO at Paradox Engineering, to discuss key benefits and features of PE Smart Urban Network. 


Wednesday, 16 November 2022 at 16:30pm 

“Why Your City Should Head for Interoperability” (Paradox Engineering/MinebeaMitsumi booth – Hall2, D81)  

Meet the uCIFI Alliance to learn more about interoperable technologies, open standards, and data models to create multi-supplier solutions for smarter cities and utilities. 


Any question? Feel free to contact us anytime.

New 'decide and provide' model for urban planning

Time to ‘decide and provide’

Can you imagine what your city will look like in ten, thirty, or fifty years? How will the community evolve, and which services will be mostly asked? No need to gaze into the crystal ball. This kind of questions are normally directed to city planners, who rely on different data sources and their expertise to develop land use plans and programs, accommodate population growth, and advise how to shape public services for better urban living.

‘Predict and provide’ is one of the conventional models for city planning. Basically, if you want to foretell the impact of a certain action, investigate what happened in the past under similar circumstances, and decide accordingly. The approach is specifically used in transport planning, where past traffic trends are leveraged to determine the future need for mobility infrastructures.

But transport planners are precisely the ones who highlighted the limit of this model: if your decisions are based on past behaviors, you are maintaining the status quo, thus perpetuating the historical dependence on cars that has been affecting cities for years.

New mobility habits are emerging after Covid-19, with people looking for more walkable communities and decentralised cities. The 15-minute city planning concept is taking off, together with a renewed idea of proximity. Should urban planners change their game?

In the UK, the Oxfordshire County Council is piloting a new approach, called ‘decide and provide’. The idea behind it is to define your preferred vision and then provide the means to work towards that, of course with some flexibility to accommodate the uncertainty of the future.

Oxfordshire aims at creating a net zero transport system by 2040. A few weeks ago, the council’s cabinet approved new requirements for transport planning that will discourage unnecessary private vehicle use and make walking, cycling, public and shared transport the first choice for people living and working in the area.

The ‘decide and provide’ approach will be acted when, for instance, planners acknowledge a certain scheme will lead to an increase in private cars. As this scenario should not be favored, they will be forced to find alternative solutions for quality, sustainable and active travel arrangements. In the medium-long run, the model should help the county council focus investments on inclusive, integrated, and sustainable transport networks.

Data are – and will continue to be – the necessary foundation for evidence-based decisions, but nowadays city planning should be driven by a far-sighted vision to act for the good of people and communities, improving wellbeing and setting the scene for future growth and development.

cities in the metaverse

Cities in the metaverse

You may think it is just the latest marketing hype or technology buzzword, but the metaverse is getting increasing attention by city leaders who are eager to know how their communities may take advantage of it.

The metaverse – as the next evolution of the internet integrating physical and digital experiences – is set to potentially improve city services and urban life, if deployed well.

In South Korea, Seoul announced its ambitions back in November 2021 and planned huge investments about it. The local government has recently released the beta version of “Metaverse Seoul and aims to have a full environment for all public services by 2026. The first official release is scheduled for the end of this year, as soon as feedback collection and bug fixing steps are completed.

Other projects are on their way. In China, Shanghai aims to cultivate a USD 52 billion metaverse industry by 2025, while Guangzhou is establishing a metaverse industry zone and launching specific measures and funding options to boost local human capital, R&D, and technology developments. In the UAE, Dubai is implementing a “Metaverse Strategy” to become one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies. Key pillars are augmented and virtual reality, as well as digital twins to provide a virtual representation of places, objects, and systems.

The National League of Cities urged municipal governments in US to learn more about the metaverse and what enables it. Technologies like blockchain and the Internet of Things are foundational and many cities around the world are already leveraging them to better manage public services and improve livability.

Immersive applications include the hosting of cultural and sports events, virtual city halls to allow residents have lifelike interactions with city officials and departments, virtual commercial districts, and more.

These use cases may be just the beginning of a broader trend. By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social, or entertainment, says Gartner. Around 30 per cent of the world’s organizations will have metaverse products and services, feeding an economy that Citi estimates around UDS 13 trillion.