06.02.2020

Green urban development: Gamification in Mexico

Climate change and digital transformation are important issues in modern urban development. The Internet of Trees in Mexico is showing how to use digital solutions to involve people in the development process and make cities greener.

With around five million inhabitants, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city. Climate change is reflected in smog, seasonal flooding and high temperatures. Creating green spaces is one method of making the city more resistant to harmful environmental impacts. Trees absorb excess water, lower the ambient temperature and absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. 

This is where the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH comes in. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), GIZ has joined forces with the City of Guadalajara to develop the Arbol IoT (Internet of Trees) digital platform. The city has some green areas, but not enough to meet international standards. In addition, plants often suffer from new pest types – some of which have been introduced by imported plants. Using a smartphone app, city residents can record the city’s stock of trees and store information about their condition on the website. The data provided is very helpful for the Planning Institute for the Metropolitan Area  of Guadalajara (IMEPLAN). To date it has had too few employees to monitor the trees. Furthermore, city dwellers can not just record the tree population; they can also learn how to care for trees more effectively.

The digital platform for the project was created in cooperation with citizens, as one of the technical tool’s objectives was to retain a focus on people. City residents’ participation in developing the digital solution is the secret to its success. Since the application’s launch, 3,300 trees have been evaluated and 400 new trees registered. The software is an open source tool and the platform is easily transferable: since 2019, it has been used in Zapopan, a city close to Guadalajara.

Arbol IoT is a digital, citizen-centred and transferable solution created in response to urban climate change. It will be presented at the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. The international conference brings together leading representatives from the fields of policy-making and the private sector to discuss and promote innovations for sustainable urban development. 

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