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Smart Cities International: Telecommuting Colombia, Enlightened Pilgrims, Greener Paris

Tam Ky, Vietnam
Tam Ky, Vietnam
Emily Liedel

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As our cities become increasingly high-tech and crowded, efforts to create denser housing and to flood cities with sensors and smart technology often clash with historical preservation. Chinese cities are notorious for their eagerness to raze historic neighborhoods and to replace them with high-rises, often at the expense of both livability and tourism. In Europe, city planners have generally worked to preserve historic city centers and other monuments, but as populations grow, even European cities won't escape the pressure to alter their landscapes to accommodate more people.

In addition to other smart city news, this week we’re looking at a radical proposal to make Paris greener and denser. Further south, we’ll consider a project to bring modern lighting to Spain’s 1,000-year-old pilgrimage route.

— Emily Liedel


Medellin’s mayor recently signed a partnership with the Colombian Ministers of Telecommunications and Labor to promote telecommuting in the city, El Tiempo reports (Spanish). The program’s goals: to make better use of the telecommunications network, to reduce poverty, to improve mobility throughout the city, and to create jobs and facilitate self-employment.


“We have to change the culture throughout the country so that people can telecommute, and so that an employee isn’t valued by how long he or she is warming the seat, but by how productive he or she is,” said Diego Molano, Colombia Minister of Telecommunications, in reference to the possible challenges of promoting telecommuting.


As our cities are stuffed ever fuller with geolocation technology, some cities are developing even more sophisticated ways to gather location-related data, Journal du Net reports (French). In Stockholm, for example, taxis are equipped with sensors that collect real-time data about how long it takes to get from one point to another. The data is also used to better understand how to manage traffic during rush hour.


As Latin American cities such as Lima, Medellin and Puebla try to convert their reigning chaos into smarter and more sustainable urban models, they often focus on programs that more developed countries might find basic, Expansión reports (Spanish). Puebla is inaugurating its model for sustainability in 2016 with a focus on social programs, in contrast to places such as Madrid and Barcelona. Instead of smart lighting systems, Puebla has built three new hospitals and remodeled 800 schools in the past four years, both contributing to a better standard of living for residents.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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