City2City
SIATA: A Disaster Management Tool (Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer)

The Early Warning System of Medellín and the Aburrá Valley (SIATA) is an integrated environmental assessment and risk management tool thatcombines scientific knowledge, research, and technology to identify and predict natural and anthropogenic phenomena. This innovation providestimely alerts to the region’s inhabitants and municipal authorities. SIATA deploys sensors that feed real-time data on hydrometeorologicalvariables and atmospheric conditions to a central system through which the information is analyzed and shared with the relevant parties. Thedata is also used to create numerical and statistical modelling to understand and identify future risk. To make data accessible, SIATA designed amobile application and website where users can find the weather forecast, receive alerts, view precipitation patterns and access real-timeimages from the camera network. The initiative also integrates a communication and education strategy to increase community awareness andparticipation. 

SIATA: A DISASTER MANAGEMENT TOOL

Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer

Urban challenge

The Aburrá Valley is a river basin and a subregion in Colombia, with Medellin as its head city. Being one of the most populated valleys in Colombia,it has over 4 million inhabitants living in 10 municipalities. The Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley (AMVA) is an administrative entity thatcoordinates and executes transit, environmental and urban policies across the region’s municipalities. Given its geographic location, the AburráValley is highly prone to heavy rains, electrical storms, landslides, forest fires and floods. For instance, from 2016 to 2019, there were 5577emergencies caused by natural disasters, affecting 5418 homes.

Solution

Innovation process

The project stems from an undergraduate thesis from three geologists at EAFIT University in Medellin seeking to measure precipitation patternsin the region. The idea was then presented before the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, which undertook the project with low funding andlimited resources. With ongoing support from local government agencies and research universities, the initiative developed into an innovativeproject to improve the region’s risk management. Although it was not until 2010 that Aburrá Valley authorities took on the administration of theproject, from the early 2000s, community networks, local universities, and government authorities developed the initial foundations that led tothe consolidation of the project. From 2011 onwards, SIATA created a network of meteorological stations and installed new remote sensors,including a meteorological radar, the first of its kind installed in Colombia. In 2014 SIATA launched a mobile application to facilitate users’interaction with the data, and since then, it has continued to develop new initiatives, programs and technology to continue improving the system’scapabilities.

Continuity

SIATA has a direct impact on communities located in areas prone to natural hazards. The alert system, however, has also been instrumental in theconstruction of large infrastructure projects, as managers can receive timely information about weather phenomena that could significantlyimpact construction plans. The innovation continues leveraging new research to develop and implement new systems, sensors, and models foraccurate data collection. Recent projects include a seismology group and an air quality monitoring network in 2016, fire monitoring throughthermal cameras in 2017 and the development of new sensors in 2020. SIATA also keeps advancing its community socialization strategy througheducation programs and campaigns in neighborhoods and schools. 

Key takeaways

  • Making data accessible to the community is a cornerstone of the project’s effectiveness. SIATA conducts education andcommunication programs and diffuses data through user-friendly platforms. This approach ensures that the communityreceives timely information and can follow safety protocols during emergencies, thereby reaching the project’s goal of savinglives and lowering the impact of natural hazards on the community’s wellbeing.
  • Support research for continuous innovation. The project has found great value in partnering with faculty and students fromlocal universities to advance research for the development of new technology. Given its focus on applied research, SIATAcontinues to innovate, evolving from an initiative to measure precipitation patterns to a consolidated strategy of sensors,networks and interdisciplinary action for risk management.
  • The recognition of the project’s potential by local authorities was crucial for its success. Without ongoing support from localauthorities, it would have been difficult for the project to acquire the maturity and relevance it has today. Receiving funding andoperating space throughout incoming local administrations, SIATA has developed into a core foundational pillar of riskmanagement policy in the Aburrá Valley region, showing how the benefits of innovation and technology can help overcomepolitical hurdles. 

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

Tron Bekasi: Digitalising Angkot Vans (Innovation Type: Enterprise Venture)

In 2019, Via launched the app TRON app, facilitating the ordering of angkots in Bekasi, a city in the east of Jakarta. Initially,TRON operated as a point-to-point service, as with standard public buses. However, by adapting its fleet managementsolutions from other similar ventures, Via soon managed to re-mould TRON such that it operated as an on-demand service,experimenting with a more novel approach to public transit instead of duplicating existing efforts. Based on pick-up requests,TRON algorithmically charts dynamic routes and directs angkot drivers and passengers to a suitable pick-up point (a virtual‘bus stop’). This tracking approach allows commuters to avoid walking long distances to find and hail an angkot, whilst driversare also assured of customers. Furthermore, up to 15 people can share a ride, while avoiding the rigidity of fixed public busroutes. To avoid congestion and unsafe conditions at these virtual bus stops, angkots are also scheduled to depart within 1 to 3minutes from each stop. The option to pay for angkot rides using the TRON app itself reduces the hassle of exchanging cashwith drivers. Furthermore, with the economies of scale of such a large-scale enterprise venture, fares on TRON angkots arefixed, and hence often more affordable than the surge pricing rates offered by angkots hailed on roads.

TRON BEKASI: DIGITALISING ANGKOT VANS

Innovation Type: Enterprise Venture

Urban challenge

Jakarta, like many of its Southeast Asian counterparts, suffers from severe traffic congestion – costing the Indonesianeconomy an estimated $4.5 billion a year. The city’s overstretched public transport systems have made ride-hailing popularamongst citizens, with Indonesians being the world’s second-heaviest users of ride hailing apps (Global Digital Report, 2019).Many of Jakarta’s citizens rely on angkots, shared van-taxis with a capacity of 10 to 15 persons, for their daily commute – theirflexibility a bo Against this backdrop, US-based firm Via collaborated with TRON to provide technologically advanced mobilitysolutions that were adapted to Indonesia’s local angkots, to improve the transit system in Indonesian cities. 

Innovation process

Via Transportation, Inc. is a leading global developer of on-demand shared mobility solutions, and approached Bekasi city aspart of efforts to enter the Indonesian market. The venture was favourably received by the Bekasi city government, havingthemselves launched a smart city unit in 2016 as part of wider national efforts to prioritise digital transformation in publicservices. Leveraging Southeast Asia’s growing ride-hailing market, Via carved out a space in the market for itself by focusingon angkots. Angkots were a relatively neglected mode of transport in the ride-hailing industry albeit their ubiquity in theIndonesian urban landscape, ensuring Via did not oversaturate the market while tapping on existing local practices andresources.

Solution

Continuity

Having first launched with just 15 angkots, TRON has now accumulated over 1000 member drivers in Bekasi. 

Key takeaways

  • International enterprises should adapt their solutions to local contexts. Although Via has accumulated a host ofexpertise and best practices in urban mobility solutions, it would have failed to capture a significant share of the Bekasimarket if it hadn’t tailored these solutions to the local favourite – angkots.
  • Make creative use of existing infrastructure and everyday practices. Often, citizens are well-engaged with these – inthis case, with angkots – and their capabilities (flexibility, passenger capacity) and popularity should not be neglectedin favour of a fresh solution that might fail to reach similar levels of engagement. 
  • Enterprises should engage with and align with the priorities of the government. By emerging in Bekasi city, TRON waswell-aligned with the city’s ambitions of becoming a smarter and greener city – hence winning the hearts of localleadership (who then mobilised support for the project in the form of fleet enhancement). 

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

Shenzhen: a Resilient 'Sponge' City (Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer)

Sponge cities offer a simple natural solution to this urban problem. By shifting away from traditional “grey infrastructure” ofconcrete and, instead, building porous, permeable infrastructure such as green roofs, roads and gardens that mimic natureand absorb and retain rainwater for future use, Shenzhen hopes to reduce flooding while moving towards a more circulareconomy. The city has formulated a comprehensive multi-layer sponge plan and has created a standardised framework tocoordinate urban development with the requirements of sponge infrastructure. 

SHENZHEN: A RESILIENT 'SPONGE' CITY

Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer

Urban challenge

The bustling city of Shenzhen is home to 13 million people and one of the fastest urbanising cities in the world. However, rapidurbanisation across China and the world at large comes with major changes in urban hydrological and ecological processes,resulting in an increased risk of urban flooding. In 2014, Shenzhen experienced a period of heavy rain, later called a 50-yearflood event, which pulled the city to a complete stop - more than 200 areas were waterlogged, despite having 13,700 km ofbuilt sewers. The situation is likely to worsen as computer models predict that with climate change, although total annualrainfall will remain relatively unchanged, precipitation will be characterised by short duration and high intensity. 

Solution

Innovation process

In 2013, President Xi Jinping drew attention to the need to integrate rainfall retention into urban planning, considerablyendorsing the concept of a sponge city and making it visible to the public. The following year, the Ministry of Housing andUrban-Rural Development issued a set of technical guidelines for the implementation of sponge city initiatives. The StateCouncil of China also issued the national Guidelines on Promoting the construction of Sponge Cities. The governmentlaunched a 30-city pilot programme, and in 2016 the city of Shenzhen was selected to participate in the pilot. One year afterbeing selected, the first works started in the city to integrate sponge city initiatives into the city’s infrastructure. Five yearsafter the project was first launched, 26 sponge city plans and 1361 projects have already been completed, with a total of 276square km of urban area intervened. 

Continuity

The National Guidelines for Sponge Cities sets the target of sponge infrastructure at 20% of the urban area by 2020 and 80%by 2030. With a sponge infrastructure coverage of 28.3% of the urban areas, Shenzhen’s project has been successful and is inline to continue repurposing the city landscape. The application of the PPP model to fund projects, such as the PPP inGuangming district of Shenzhen, also provide insights into the future participation and interest from the private sector.

Key takeaways

  • Nature-based solutions are smart city solutions. The sponge infrastructure concept does not centre on using cutting edgetechnologies or features but on the revival of ancient wisdom to rethink the city landscape. In the case of Shenzhen, innovationarrives in the form of eco-friendly solutions that allow for a sustainable use of materials, enabling the city to create moreresilient infrastructure and mitigate floods and resource scarcity in the future.
  • Political will and commitment to develop and implement a vision. The initiative was promoted by the vision and the decisiveinvestment in the development of Sponge Cities promoted by the National Government. Among the cities participating in theinitiative, Shenzhen has also stood out because of the particular interest of the city in developing and implementing the Spongeapproach at its highest level. 
  • Clear targets to measure progress. Having a set of targets during the project lifetime enabled Shenzhen officials to identifytheir progress and meet the National Guidelines target of urban coverage. Defined target and phase gates also prompted thetimely mobilisation of resources in many city districts, leveraging, when possible, PPP mechanisms.
  • Partnerships for innovation and success. Besides PPPs, the involvement of NGOs like The Nature Conservancy has played animportant role in the ideation of sponge cities, as they are able to test and even pilot innovative options for replacing greyinfrastructure before they are implemented by city officials. This collaboration presents opportunities for continuing to createforward-thinking ways of transforming urban planning in the future.

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

Community Waste 'Map-Athons' (Innovation Type: Community Organized)
With favourable reception to this idea from the City Council, the Accelerator Lab and OpenMap set forth together to begin a pilot mapping exercise for existing waste management infrastructure - a crucial first step in identifying pain/pressure points in the waste network, and charting the demand and supply of waste infrastructure. Inspired by the Collective Intelligence approach, the team enlisted the assistance of student volunteers and local government officials to explore the town on foot and manually map waste infrastructure onto the crowdsourced map database using their smartphones. In a span of 2 weeks, volunteers remotely labelled 26,000 physical features and developed 20 different map layers relevant to waste infrastructure, including trash sites, buildings, roads, and waterways. OpenMap Development verified the resulting datasets, and members of the community were engaged in data validation exercises to ensure the accuracy of the data – going on recce visits to areas to compare with the produced maps.

Community Waste 'Map-Athons' 

Innovation Type: Community Organized

Urban Challenge

Mwanza is Tanzania's second-largest city, and one of sub-Saharan Africa's fastest developing urban centers. The city produces over 357 tonnes of garbage daily, 70% of which is organic waste. The Buhongwa ward in Mwanza is a new, unplanned, semi-urban town – home to both the largest vegetable market in the region, but also the region's only landfill. With an overwhelmed waste management system, illegal dumpling and improper waste disposal have become rampant. The streets of Buhongwa are littered with much of the town's organic and inorganic waste. Whilst communities have benefitted from the informal waste picking economy to earn a living, the waste situation presents these same communities with dire health hazards. Furthermore, the unplanned and informal nature of most settlements in Mwanza contribute to unmapped waste maps and an incomplete waste management framework.

Innovation Process

In 2020, the Mwanza City Council announced plans to expand its modern waste management services to the ward of Buhongwa. This presented a timely opportunity for the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Tanzania, who had been seeking new partnerships to support in both technical and non-technical capacities; furthermore, solid waste management had been identified by the Lab as one of Tanzania's priority challenges to tackle. In addition, the Lab had recently met members of the local team from OpenMap Development during the yearly Innovation Week Tanzania event, and had been inspired by their work in open-source mapping for humanitarian causes. The OpenMap team were invited by the Accelerator Lab to attend a UNDP-Nesta Collective Intelligence workshop, which increased their capacity for community data collection and participatory design. With the Lab eventually contracting the team to assist with an ongoing infrastructure mapping exercise in Dar Es Salaam, the idea for a similar project in the context of waste infrastructure soon emerged amongst members of the Buhongwa team.

Solution

Continuity

Together, these data collection efforts culminated in a rich database that revealed the existence of new buildings that had not been previously mapped or registered by the government. The City Council is now using this information to add waste collection points in previously unserved and unmapped informal settlements. This project has also had ripple effects in the national government's overall approach to data, with the National Bureau of Statistics more open to legitimising such novel sources of data (i.e. from bottom-up). Following the mapping exercise, the City Council has also begun a bidding contract for the introduction of new waste collection service providers in Buhongwa, and increased financial support for recycling firms. The generated maps have also seen utility outside of the realm of waste, informing tax-related policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Frequent and meaningful dialogue between the different stakeholders, especially between local authorities and national authorities, made possible agreements on common standards. This substantially increased the usability and impact of the data collected for both levels of government, and facilitated the scaling up of this initiative – and its permeation into national level debates on data, and in other policy areas (e.g. tax).
  • Engaging youth in the data collection process had strong mutual benefits to all parties, as the students were able to network with actors in the government and in civil society – and receive training on the use of key digital tools. Such youth engagement efforts build the digital skills of young generations, and could foster further interest in a STEM career - whilst the city is rejuvenated via the participatory design and digital talent of its own young people.
  • Data 'share-back' exercises engage the target community, ensuring the collected data is valid and relevant, and that it goes back to improve their lives in concrete ways. Their feedback on the produced maps were not optional, but key to the cartographic process – community members' lived experiences are often able to add nuance to certain mapping decisions, and explain certain physical features or findings not immediately obvious. With this valuable information, the city will be able to better plan for waste infrastructure and manpower, whilst remaining sensitive of the need to continue to provide informal waste pickers with a strong source of income – and upskilling opportunities in the new waste network.

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

'Treetown': New Trees and New Jobs (Innovation Type: Tech-Driven Institutional Pioneer)
Freetown City Council introduced #FreetowntheTreeTown — a novel tree cultivation programme that leverages digital technologies to track tree planting and create employment opportunities for local youth. Community-based growers can use a smartphone app to create a unique geotagged ID for each tree planted, revisiting that tree regularly to water and maintain it. Verified tree growth is incentivized with mobile money micropayments. In addition, tree IDs can be converted into fungible “impact tokens”, which can be sold and traded by businesses and individuals as part of a voluntary carbon offset scheme. This generates more revenue that supports future tree-planting.

'Treetown': New Trees and New Jobs

Innovation Type: Tech-Driven Institutional Pioneer

Urban Challenge

Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has seen the rapid loss of tree canopy due to high rates of urbanization. 12% of the total canopy in the area was lost each year from 2011 to 2018. This threatens biodiversity and increases the risk of natural disasters like flooding, landslides and coastal erosion.

Solution

Innovation Process

The World Bank connected the Freetown City Council, which was seeking to introduce a tree cultivation project, with nonprofit Greenstand, which had developed a tech prototype for app-based monitoring and verification. This enabled the launch of the project, especially during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when in-person verification was difficult. The initial app and software platform consisted of frugal technology, with just a downloadable spreadsheet of all the data. With time, the platform has been further developed. There is now a robust data dashboard that allows administrators to view the status of different trees and visualize different data points.

Continuity

Across two phases of the project from 2020-2022, the project has seen the planting of over 560,000 trees. It has also created more than 550 short-term jobs, and sold 5,000 tree “impact tokens,” generating revenue to cultivate another 5,000 trees in the next phase. Moving forward, the plan is to continue to plant trees, shrubs and grasses will be planted along key roads, around bodies of water and critical infrastructure, and in public spaces and neighborhoods. The initiative is also upgrading and finalizing the first-ever digital tree wallet, enabling the selling of its first “impact tokens” to a UK-based company as a voluntary carbon offset. This will constitute a revenue source to finance future tree planting efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • Visionary leadership was important. The Mayor of Freetown had a clear vision for how the project should be developed, creating a team of people and engaging various partners who were willing and able to execute the project.
  • A clear incentive model for the community-based growers helped. Trees take approximately 3-5 years to grow sustainably. Switching to a system of continual micropayments instead of a one-off payment provided incentives for growers to continue attending to trees, enabling their survival.
  • A decentralized model of partnering with various community-based organisations in Freetown meant that community growers did not have to travel far to tend to their trees. This made it easier for the community growers to make repeated visits to water and cultivate these trees.
  • The system of fungible “impact tokens” that can be purchased by businesses for carbon offsets helped with the sustainability of the project, providing a revolving fund that will finance future tree cultivation efforts.

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

MBI Sharing: Green Riding in an Ecopark (Innovation Type: Enterprise Venture)
MBI Sharing is an electric shareable bikes platform developed by MBI Motors Vietnam, a multinational technology corporation from Korea, that allows users to find any parking lots nearby, pay, unlock, ride, and return the vehicle back to another station close by for a small monthly fee. The e-bike sharing scheme was trialled with approximately 500 e-bikes, 50 stations, and one 24/7 operation centre across the Ecopark, an ecological urban township on the outskirts of Hanoi. This sustainable mobility solution is paired with awareness-raising programmes to inform the public of the importance of green transportation.

MBI Sharing: Green Riding in an Ecopark

Innovation Type: Enterprise Venture

Urban challenge

According to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), transport contributes approximately 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making transportation one of the biggest pollutants which contribute to both climate change and health impacts. WHO revealed that 9 out of 10 urban dwellers inhaled highly polluted air; both ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution are responsible for about 7 million deaths globally per year. In Vietnam, where fuels-based vehicles are used extensively, around 60 000 deaths each year are air pollution-related.

Solution

Innovation process

With the aim of promoting green e-mobility and expanding their business portfolio in Vietnam, MBI Motors Vietnam had built a mobile-based electric bike sharing application and were willing to test and replicate the e-mobility solution. MBI partnered with UNDP to pilot the e-bike scheme in the Ecopark under the Green E-Transportation Initiative. The initiative was launched as a sub-initiative of the Climate Business Index (CBI), an innovative joint initiative of Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment and UNDP Vietnam that provides a platform for companies to collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change impacts.

Continuity

The initiative was launched in September 2020 and as of of March 2021, it had recorded more than 8,048 users that have taken 26,217 trips on the e-bikes, with over 128,250 kilometres of total travel distance. Considerable positive feedback about the ebike services was given by participants. In total, the e-bike sharing scheme has already saved approximately 8.1 tons of carbon dioxide. Next steps include growing partnerships, with an aim to expand the Green E-Transportation initiative to multiple locations. In addition, UNDP is engaging in further discussions with various Universities and Industrial Zones in Hanoi to participate in the initiative.

Key Takeaways

  • Thematic collaborations help earn social ventures public visibility and private investments. By partnering with UNDP and the Ecopark, MBI could address a thematic focus - in this case, sustainability - and make use of partnerships and resources to expand the initiative. In this case, MBI could pilot their climate resilient initiatives within the Ecopark to test business solutions and unlock opportunities to network with the government and investors, both domestically and internationally.
  • It is important too to establish an all-rounded sustainability ecosystem, targeting attitudes and behaviours at their roots. UNDP Vietnam's efforts in community engagement and raising awareness of the role of green transportation in addressing air pollution were pivotal in increasing public uptake of the e-bikes. These efforts materialised in the form of digital campaigns, and materials on various social media platforms helped increase the visibility of the Green E-Transport Initiative and the MBI Sharing system in particular.

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations

Download the full PDF of the case study from the attached document.

Sakay App: Finding City Routes (Innovation Type: Frugal Innovation)
The Sakay apps helps commuters determine the best routes through Manila via a variety of transport modes, as per their personal preferences. By aggregating cartographic and commuting data – including public transport fares and timetables – Sakay allows users to plan their routes in advance. With this ability to avoid congested routes and foresee breakdowns, public transit is made more predictable and seamless for Manilans, making mass transit a more viable option than it tended to be previously (and in turn, reducing congestion on the roads from private vehicles). Importantly, Sakay’s route planning capabilities incorporate options from both formal and informal transport modes, including jeepneys, trains, standard buses, point-to-point buses, inter-provincial coaches (UV Express), shuttles, and the Pasig River Ferry. Commuters may check for instance, how to get from point A to point B using a combination of jeepney and bus travel, ensuring that popular local or informal transport options are legitimized and fully leveraged in the local public transport ecosystem.

Sakay App: Finding City Routes

Innovation Type: Frugal Innovation

Urban challenge

In Metro Manila, congestion, overstretched public transit systems, and unclear signage have made it difficult to accurately navigate the city. The city is the 18th most congested city in the world, with 98 hours lost every year to traffic by each citizen. This density often leads to road closures and Metro Rail Transit breakdowns, altogether making for a difficult public commute experience for many Filipinos, as well as an immense challenge for the city government. Many rely on informal modes of transit to get to work, which fill in gaps in the public transportation system. Nearly half of the city’s residents take one of 45,000 jeepneys every day – more than double the number of citizens riding buses and trains. Despite the crucial role these informal modes of transport have in the public transit ecosystem, they contribute to a complex transport situation in the city, with little consolidated information on inter-modal transport. Manilans often describe enquiring with strangers on the road about when or where to transfer, and commuting information was mostly word-of-mouth; without a wider look at city-level commuting patterns and routes, uninformed or estimated routes may contribute to congestion rather than ease it.

Solution