Moving São Paulo towards innovation and technology

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Boosting technology and accelerating digitization was one of the signature campaign platforms of São Paulo's mayor-elect João Dória as her promised to improve efficiency and services and trim the costs of the municipal administration 

Once in office, Dória soon followed through on his pledge. In a cabinet reshuffle, he created a new department exclusively devoted to innovation and technology and named Daniel Annenberg, who used to run São Paulo's state Poupatempo program, as its leader.

In a telling move, Dória's chose his government slogan to be Acelera SP (Accelerate São Paulo).

To learn more about the objectives and priorities of São Paulo's new administration for technology and innovation, BNamericas spoke to the newly appointed head of the department.

BNamericas: What are the guidelines and priorities of the newly created technology and innovation department?

Annenberg: On the one hand, our work will be transversal. This means that the department will help the other city management offices and agencies basically in everything regarding the use of technology and innovation.

One example of that is the city's integrated operations and control center, to be launched soon, which will bring together the civil defense, metropolitan civil guards, transit authority and urban monitoring through CCTV, among other services. At the secretariat we're working on the system and the integration of these various bodies.

The expansion of electronic medical records locally and their integration between municipal and state health authorities is another example. We will work with the various levels of government, including the federal government, to make sure the records are accessible and are properly shared.

In terms of education, the city aims to accelerate the digitization of unified education centers.

On the other hand, our secretariat will also be responsible for the development of its own projects and for the automation and digitization of processes internally.

It should be noted that we're also responsible for key services inherited from other departments, such as the 156 number, which the public calls to obtain different types of attention and information and which receives more than 20,000 calls per day.

We intend throughout this year to have all the local administration phone numbers concentrated on 156.

BNamericas: Which companies will be partners in the integrated operations center? Was there a bidding process to choose them? And when is the center expected to go live?

Annenberg: All of this is still under discussion. We're working to define what the model will look like. There will be some cases in which I believe technology is likely to be donated to the city of São Paulo. In any case, it's impossible talk about deadlines yet. We're less than one month into this administration.

BNamericas: Regarding electronic medical records, do you have any data on the percentage of the municipal network currently adopting them?

Annenberg: We're increasing these figures. The mayor's priority in health now is the night service program at private hospitals, in partnership with the private network.

BNamericas: How is the digitization process going for city hall and its various departments?

Annenberg: It's advancing. At the department, we're responsible for SEI, which is the process digitization system. This is one of our department's main goals. Some 35% of the new processes and procedures [requests, forms, etc.] filed with the municipal administration are done so digitally. Our goal is to have 100% of them in digital format by the end of 2018.

On another front, we're also reviewing the current telecenters and the WiFi Livre SP project, which connects public squares with free Wi-Fi. Our objective is to have public Wi-Fi throughout the entire city, not just in the current 120 public squares, and we're talking to operators and other parties to see how that can be implemented.

BNamericas: The time is now being spent on meetings and planning then?

Annenberg: Yes, we're setting up the secretariat, evaluating the budget and taking note of things. What we've found out, for example, is that even within city hall, we don't have Wi-Fi in part of our facilities. There's plenty to do.

BNamericas: What do you think of smart city initiatives and what can be done in that direction in the city?

Annenberg: A lot. We intend to use some of the coming tenders, such as the public lighting one that will be re-tendered, to include sensors, Wi-Fi deployment. We should have a new tender to choose the bus transportation concessionaire. It's critical to have Wi-Fi at bus stops and for people to have applications to check on the movement of buses.

We want to use different channels to make the city smart.

BNamericas: What will be the strategy for start-ups?

Annenberg: This is another function of our department, working with start-ups. Mobilab is a laboratory launched under the past administration, with some very interesting initiatives to support start-ups through hackatons to develop applications that can be used by the public and in public management.

The lab was under the control of the urban mobility office and we have now brought it him under the wing of the innovation and technology area. We want to make it a hub for incubation and for partnerships with universities and the private sector.

All things considered, we'll make a huge effort with developers, incubators, accelerators and financiers so São Paulo will increasingly be seen as a start-up-friendly city.