Ten years with RECI

DATE July 14, 2022

Ten years with RECI

Interview conducted from SmartCity Journal to our president, Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, proud: “In Europe they look at us with admiration”


In the evolution and development of our municipalities this last decade, the Spanish Network of Smart Cities, which is just celebrating its tenth anniversary, has been an exemplary organization in its evolution and modernization and the great promoter of innovation and governance.

For this reason, we have approached, on this anniversary, its President, Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, current mayor of Logroño, to review its past and bring us closer to its future.

TSCJ.- What is the added value of the RECI for Spanish cities after ten years of existence?

Pablo Hermoso.- The value is in ten years of accumulated experience on the part of the technicians of the Spanish town councils who work in the area of computing and telecommunications and with a digital focus. I believe that the greatest value is in those accumulated experience, the trust generated that allows us to learn faster and therefore share good and bad experiences to be able to quickly collaborate on the technical specifications that allow us to execute in the best and most efficient way. agile the funds that are now arriving and that are closely linked to the digitalization of cities.

Therefore, I believe that the main value of the Spanish Network of Smart Cities is that trust and the work generated among its technicians with accumulated experience that allows, through failures and good transition practices, to improve quickly. And that capillarity that a Spanish network provides in local administrations to be able to digest part of the funds that arrive and make that opportunity a good lever to transform the country.

TSCJ.- It is clear that the world of politics at the international and national level is very deteriorated; On the other hand, municipalism is on the rise. Do you believe that technology is bringing citizens closer to their local leaders?

Pablo Hermoso.- In that demonstration that you make, I believe that what underlies it is that municipalism is very much at street level; That is, it does not move away from citizen needs and is experienced on a day-to-day basis. When a mayor, male or female councilor goes out onto the street, he or she receives very directly what the impressions, complaints, criticism or praise of the citizens are and therefore I believe that he or she has a realistic vision of what is happening. and what is the state of mind of its people.

I believe that this is what he perceives in municipalism and therefore it is a very street-level policy that allows very little confusion. From there I believe that technology brings citizens closer to the extent that some of its promised advantages can truly be fulfilled.

That is to say: in many cases it avoids bureaucracy that means that, for example, you have to come to a town hall to wait in line or have a prior appointment to obtain a certificate or some procedure. That allows you to do everything digitally from paying a fine to a registration form or paperwork for aid.

This truly has an impact on the well-being of the citizen who sees how that proposal of that law becomes a reality that said that if the administration has the citizen's data it would not be necessary to request it again and therefore I believe that in that sense citizens can perceive how technology improves your life to the extent that it saves you time.

On the other hand, I believe that in medium and small municipalities the relationship with the citizen is very, very close. In other words, apart from using digital formulas, you can communicate in a faster, more up-to-the-minute way through social networks and their different channels and that also offers an image of transparency because I believe that it helps them to also perceive better. and have more complete information about what is being done in a city council. And thanks to this digital world, an expansion is allowed to obtain more concise and constant information and that also brings citizens closer to that knowledge of municipal reality.

TSCJ.- We are on the path to global cooperation of our cities. Does RECI plan to activate knowledge transfer agreements with other continents or countries?

Pablo Hermoso.- It's a posibility. I think there are two scenarios; Europe is where I believe that Spain's experience in terms of the application of smart city models of data integration platforms in its municipalities is perceived with great interest. At the European level, the modeling that has been carried out is also appreciated, this normalization, this homogenization of some standards in the application of data platforms in cities, this capacity also to develop, for example, ontology or semantic developments that allow us to explain well how it is modeled. a city.

I think that all of this is seen in Europe as an opportunity and to the extent that it is now also making that effort through Gaia We are attentive and the Spanish experience in the application of smart cities data platforms to cities is very valuable and I believe that we are attentive and propose that experience as a valuable experience in the European framework.

Within the Latin American framework, I also believe in some specific verticals in the application of technology: for example the tourism sector and in that twinning that we have with the Network of Intelligent Tourist Destinations (DTI), chaired in this case by Toni, the mayor of Benidorm. I find it very interesting how this modeling has been done, this methodological construction of intelligent tourist destinations in Latin American countries, because Spain is a country that is capable of providing hospitality to almost ninety million people with a high degree of satisfaction. And there are many life technologies, a lot of methods linked to technology, innovation, accessibility for governance and that, through this specific development in the tourism sector, I think it is highly valued by everyone and especially and I know that Segitur is playing an important role in this transfer of knowledge to the Latin American world.

So, we are attentive both in Europe and in America and we perceive that willingness to transfer or contribute that we understand may be valid.

TSCJ.- Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cybersecurity, Metaverse... You are a somewhat unorthodox politician because you come from the business world and specifically from technology companies. Aren't you afraid that a tremendous digital divide will occur between digital nomads and the rest of the population?

Pablo Hermoso.- What must be put at the center of these policies is clearly the citizen. Technology is a means, not an end in itself. Sometimes we speak with these words that may sound a little strange to the general public. We must do a deep analysis and a deep reflection on digital culture... the same as literacy came at other times by learning from school in mathematics, language and the classical world and the humanities as well.

Now there is a world that is a digital culture that makes it necessary to at least know those basic codes. Currently we must take into account that we are experiencing a technological revolution that has a characteristic never seen before: it is an intragenerational revolution that has occurred in the period of one generation in thirty years and we have a new technology that has been born, has become globalized and It has challenged our ways of knowing, learning, analyzing, working in all sectors and there is a certain risk of a gap between older people, where it is sometimes difficult and difficult to have that digital culture, and the younger people. So what we have to do is reflect on what are the ways to help, especially for older people, so that they can incorporate into this digital culture in a way that does not penalize them or generate more inequalities.

It is necessary to clearly analyze what elements can allow a reduction in inequalities. That is, if what technology does is accentuate inequalities among older people. Because if our grandfathers and grandmothers cannot access a bank or cannot or do not have the understanding to access the procedures with the administration, then we are creating a problem.

So there we have, on the one hand, to take care of that environment and provide one that allows our elders to overcome these problems, and then an environment that allows our young people to avoid addictions that are already appearing in social services. In any city council there are cases, not only of people with vulnerability due to having low income or difficulty in accessing housing, but also in our middle and upper classes, who have a big problem due to the addictions of young people to the use of technology without measure: games over the Internet, hours and hours on the Internet without measure that cause the inability to develop critical thinking, since all the information that reaches them is based on their preferences, and therefore they live in a closed bubble without capacity to generate one's own and autonomous thought.

So there are clearly risks in different sectors of the population: in the older sector due to the difficulties of carrying out certain procedures and understanding of that world and in young people due to an interconnection that also makes balance difficult in some phases.

All of this is what we have to think about, how it generates a happy digital life and how technology should help us obtain greater and better knowledge to be able to move forward. Technology has always helped progress and we must avoid these evils that are sometimes caused by the current situation.

It must also be taken into account that technological development has some particularities in a world like today's, which is a particularity of increasing returns and therefore whoever wins wins almost everything. Five large American technology companies take all the information or all the data. They know that we buy through Amazon, they know what we like through Facebook, they know that we search through Google, they know what interaction we have on Twitter, they know how we work through Microsoft or also through Apple.

All of this also generates a space and a European reflection that I believe has been given by that definition of the Charter of Digital Rights that is being worked on, by that digital strategy where we must also put urban planning at the center and what it is used for. the technology. I believe that there is a risk that we must pose when applying technology, and the RECI is also in that reflection, on how technology can help us improve, not worsen, some living conditions.

TSCJ.- You are, in addition to President of the RECI, mayor of Logroño. Tell me three citizen obsessions not to go down in history, but to stay in it

Pablo Hermoso.- We are prioritizing three issues that I believe are necessary: on the one hand we are with that application, what I was telling you about a real electronic administration; That is to say, from the moment someone enters a document in a registry until a mayoral resolution is issued, we can have information with adequate traceability to be able to give, on the one hand, a faster response to the citizen, who sometimes complains about a lack of agility of the process, and on the other hand internally work more effectively. For us, this implementation of electronic administration is very necessary to fulfill this mandate so as not to repeat requests to the citizens themselves for things that are already in the administration itself.

On the other hand, it is necessary that the efforts that have been made in the development of technological platforms be materialized and also culminate in clear advantages for the citizen. Advantages if we save water when we water public gardens or if we save money on lighting or if we manage, for example, to reduce the number of accidents in the city because we have well characterized what problems exist, where accidents occur or if we also manage to through telemetry, for example, seeing where leaks are occurring in our water network, etc. That is to say, I believe that what is necessary is that the investment that cities have made in technological platforms is for it to truly materialize into clear advantages when it comes to managing the city.

Another concern is in this work with youth and especially with older people, as I said before, so that older people feel accompanied by the municipalities, and in this case Logroño, which When it comes to carrying out their procedures, they feel accompanied from the basics, such as direct debiting a payment, how to carry out a certain procedure, pay a fine, or how to obtain a digital certificate. And above all, also to young people, through our educational policies, to be able to convey to them the possible risks that exist in a digital world and to be able to make that reflection with young people.

I think that the objective of municipalism in this sense is very clear: we have to do a lot of pedagogy and from that closeness that we have to our citizens, we also have the obligation on our part to inform about the risks that this entails.

If these three things are done: an efficient electronic administration, that data platform with meaning for citizens and a good job of pedagogy and support for our citizens in the digital world, we can consider the work done good.

We hope that these coordinates will be maintained for many years and the Spanish Network of Smart Cities will maintain the level of support for Spanish municipalities.

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