IEEE Affiliated Smart City Profile - Medellín, Colombia

At the heart of Medellin’s desire to be a smart city is a yearning to share its knowledge with the world while working with other cities to solve common problems, increase productivity and accelerate economic growth, with the citizens as the core of the city’s evolution.

Medellin is facing both new and old social, economic and urban problems, including exclusion, poverty, housing and heritage protection. Its biggest goal is to achieve social inclusion and equity as well as sustainable economic development through social and economic urbanism.

Medellin has achieved a synergy with local government, academia, industry and citizens to create an environment conducive to science, technology and innovation, led by a public entity called Ruta N.

Information and communications technology (ICT) are key ingredients. Medellin believes ICT will provide the tools for citizen empowerment, equity and access to services provided by the local government through co-creation platforms like which implements new mechanisms to encourage citizens participation through open innovation methodologies. Also, is a platform that hasn´t yet been released, but it will allow smart cooperation between cities and urban leaders, as well as assist in the consolidation of a worldwide network to share knowledge through ICT.

Figure 2

The Medellin Ciudad Inteligente program has pioneered the use of digital technologies since 2007 and empowers public participation by creating physical and virtual meetings where citizens can provide input on the development of public policies and foster the creation of projects that can improve the quality of life of the city’s 2.4 million residents. In terms of leveraging ICT, the city has set goals to be achieved to support Medellin Ciudad Inteligente, including an open Wi-Fi with a perimeter of 33 public parks and open spaces city-wide, intelligent classrooms in more than 200 public schools, and computers in public offices, libraries and community centers for residents use, including everything from homework research to social interaction.

In addition to deploying ICT, Medellin Ciudad Inteligente is focused on making sure everyone is able to use it, so the initiative includes the training of 10,000 people per year from the city’s poorest areas. This training includes courses focused on how to use the Internet in a safe and secure way, as well as the use of mobile devices and online services.

Figure 1Another strategy of the city is Medellinnovation District, which aims to be the capital of innovation in Latin America by 2021. The initiative is an urban and economic transformation project that will transform the northern part of Medellin into an innovation cluster of entrepreneurs, companies and institutions focused on the knowledge economy. Together, they will enhance the ecosystem and train the workforce of the future.

One of the main city movements under the Medellinnovation Strategy is the Great Pact for Innovation. Thanks to the collaboration between the university, private organizations, government and society, this pact was created. The main idea is to increase the levels of investment in innovation with the sole purpose of generating a sustainable and a rapid growing economy based on a combination of public and private efforts. The main goal is to increase the investment to 2% of the city’s GDP by 2018, creating a real innovation DNA in the ecosystem and adding more value to the different products, services, business models, and general well being to its citizens.

The city also has a cluster strategy to build a business community through the creation of networks and identification of market opportunities. The first one ever created in Medellin and Antioquia, is composed of six strategic clusters: electric power; clothing, design and fashion; construction; business tourism, fairs and conventions; medicine and dentistry; and, ICT.

Medellin is ultimately leveraging both its industrial base and human talent for its smart city transformation. Five of the 15 largest companies in Colombia are located there, with an operating income of US$20.8 billion, including multinational companies. Medellin has 80 higher education institutions, and has produced 13 percent of all graduates in Colombia in the last 10 years.

Finally, the city has put a great deal of focus on ensuring the quality of the environment and design, building and maintaining the physical infrastructure required to support the sustainable development of a smart city.


To learn more about Medellín, Colombia, please visit the city's website: