Medellin Wins Global Competition to Launch ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ Research Center
Colombia President Ivan Duque announced January 22 at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, that Medellin just won a world-wide competition to launch the first “Fourth Industrial Revolution” research center in all of Latin America.
Over the next 18 months, the initial research projects at the center will involve artificial intelligence (AI); the so-called “internet of things;” and “blockchain” technology (used to store and transfer information in a decentralized and secure manner).
Medellin’s “Ruta N” high-tech hosting center is already involved in projects involving these three areas, along with Colombia’s Universidad Nacional, ViveLab Bogotá and Alianza Caoba (Bogota), the president noted.
According to Ruta N, the center initially will focus on three work areas:
1. Increase the national government’s use of artificial intelligence to combat money laundering, improve tax collections and reduce contraband. “This would open opportunities for local entrepreneurs to develop security technologies that enhance the use of data such as images, videos and sensors as probative material in criminal cases,” according to Ruta N.
2. Enable the creation of technologies to improve mobility. This would include development of projects to optimize bus routes; encourage the use of public transport by improving travel times, safety and quality; reduce pollution by increasing the use of shared vehicles; generate information in real time for public transport users to increase the movement of people; and optimize the network of local traffic lights.
3. Maintain the balance between privacy and the productive use of personal data. “One of the most interesting projects in this regard plans to use blockchain, one of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to organize property-appraisal archives and encourage the transparent management of data related to the value and the traceability of property ownership,” according to Ruta N.
Colombia is the first country in the Spanish-speaking world to host such a center, joining first-wave host countries USA, Japan, China and India. Israel, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Norway are joining Colombia in this second wave, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The centers are cooperative endeavors between the private sector, government and academia, according to WEF.
According to José Manuel Restrepo, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the centers open new avenues to obtain “disruptive” technologies that can boost industrial efficiency and competitiveness.
“We have a challenge to create a regulatory pathway to improve the potential for accelerated development of local, regional and global technology,” Minister Restrepo added.
Medellin Mayor Federico Gutiérrez added that the Fourth Industrial Revolution research projects could trigger “exponential” economic growth, generating “equity and opportunities for all sectors of society.”
Medellin’s winning bid to host the new center came about thanks to the help of the Colombia national government, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Ruta N and Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín y el Área Metropolitana (ACI), Gutierrez added.
According to WEF founder Klaus Schwab, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will combine advanced digital, physical and biological technologies, accelerating global industrial, social and economic changes.