As we know climate change and the growing rate of urbanization are increasing the levels of vulnerability for larger amounts of citizens worldwide. That is the case of Buenos Aires city, a megalopolis in South America, the capital city of Argentina. With a population close to fourteen million people the city has been showing increasing levels of impacts of the climate on the functioning of the city resulting in extreme flooding events with several deaths a year and also more heat waves with their correlation in the amount of people affected. Historical records show that the accumulated yearly rainfall has been increasing to amount an increment of close to twenty percent for the last century and to make things more troublesome that higher amount of water falls in fewer major events. This together with the significant growth of the city during the same period of time which was over tenfold and low levels of urban planning has resulted in a city with higher probabilities for flooding, more vulnerable people and growing needs for infrastructure investment, financial assistance to the affected people and enterprises, and emergency procedures to assist after the extreme events.
This project has developed an approach named Smart City Clima to dealing with climate events in cities and it is being implemented in Buenos Aires as an initial case study. The project and its approach is relevant because it is a general framework for dealing with extreme and uncertain climate events in cities and that is, as we know, a common issues for many of the larger and growing cities worldwide.
The project is based in the idea of building intelligence in the relationship among the citizens, the city and its behavior, and the weather. To develop the framework and the approach the projects uses mainly the following components. A big data approach to handle and upgrade information on the citizens, i.e. personal information on them and their things to protect, on the city, in particular information on the infrastructure and its behavior such as flooding maps and geo referenced recurrence for the events as well as information such as insurance or subsidies paid after the events, and information on the climate for the city which allows for improving the forecasting by using artificial intelligence algorithms and by making the information measured and the forecasted available as space distributed data.
The approach has been materialized in a mobile app called ClimaLab and a desktop platform that allows the users to use the information and to enter their profiles in order to receive personal alerts in case of facing growing vulnerabilities or emergency.
3. Results and Discussion
The result of the project is an approach with a high potential for replicability in other cities and with the added value of not only allowing for reducing the personal vulnerability of citizens but also providing a rational approach for increasing the resilience of the cities to climate and water related extreme and uncertain events.
Cities are key devices for the wellbeing and prosperity of the societies in this century. However they represent significant challenges for dealing with climate related events. In fact many cities, such as it is the case for Buenos Aires in Argentina will have to accept the fact that it is not possible to take the risk of some the weather related phenomena such as floodings close to negligible levels. In other words they have to accept that there will be sizeable residual risks. This means a real challenge of developing approaches for handling such residual risks and for improving the adapting capacities of the citizens to cope with them i.e. to increase their resilience. The good news is that projects such as the one presented in this paper show a way to doing that by using technologies such as big data, crowdsourcing, artificial intelligence and mobile platforms, together with the more traditional engineering approaches.
In this paper we have presented the results of an ongoing innovation project to reduce citizens vulnerability and to increase cities resilience to climate change and uncertainties. The approach developed shows high potential to achieve the proposed goals in the initial case study for the city of Buenos Aires and also to be replicated in other cities worldwide.
Bereciartua, P. and Couvin, S. (2014) AdaptaciÃ³n de las ciudades al cambio climÃ¡tico: IA en la predicciÃ³n del clima en Buenos Aires. Sostenibilidad de los Territorios Urbanos y Rurales. INGENIERIA 2014 LatinoamÃ©rica y Caribe Congreso y ExposiciÃ³n.
Bereciartua P. Vulnerability to global environmental changes in Argentina: opportunities for upgrading regional water resources management strategies. Water Science & Technology Vol 51 No 5 pp 97Â–103 Â© IWA Publishing 2005.
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