Hola from Quito, Ecuador! Microsoft
teams from across Latin America and Redmond, Washington converged on Quito,
Ecuador, September 24th- 26th to join city mayors and
companies from across Spain and Latin America at the XIV Encuentro Iberoamericano
de Ciudades Digitales—translated as the 14th Ibero-American Meeting of Digital
Cities. Microsoft is excited to have had
this important event in this unique city as a backdrop against which we could
formally launch our Microsoft
CityNext initiative in Latin America.
Quito is an amazing city with a rich history. Established in 1534, nestled 2,850 meters
high in the Andes Mountains, in a long valley between three active volcanoes,
Quito has grown to fill the valley, stretching 110 km long and only 7 km wide. It is now home to more than 2.5 million people.
As a vistor to this energetic city, one
notices very quickly that moving around the city is an adventure in
itself. Because the topography has
dictated the city as very long and narrow, automobile and bus traffic is quite
concentrated. I was fortunate to have
local taxi drivers and a tour guide named Edison who knew how to navigate the
sea of people and vehicles that fill the streets. Nothing beats having partners
with local expertise!
One of the things that really struck me
about Quito is the enormous effort that the current and former mayors have made
to restore neighborhoods that have suffered from crime or disrepair. I walked through Calle La Ronda and the
historical Spanish colonial district, where my guide explained how these
streets had been overrun by gangs of pickpockets, that families had vacated the
beautiful homes, and that the stench and lack of security had driven tourists
away. My guide explained how the mayor
decided to take back his city. He sent
the police into the district and cleared out all of the pickpockets and black
marketeers, and invested in restoring the buildings and streets to their former
glory. Now this district boasts
beautifully painted buildings, balconies filled with flowers, colorful flags,
games such as hopscotch for kids young and old, restaurants and shops, and a
bustling night life.
And the city shows its pride in this
work. Posters proclaim their progress
and artwork makes it clear that the streets belong to the people, not the
criminals. Quito is as proud of this
restoration as they are of their many stunning cathedrals and government
buildings that have achieved inclusion on the UNESCO World
These themes of restoration and of putting
people first came through at the Inaugural Celebration opening the Meeting of
The celebration was held in the beautiful Centro de Arte
Contemporaneo, situated on the western slope of the valley overlooking
Quito. This building was first designed
as a military hospital in early 1900s.
It has since been renovated into a museum for contemporary art. The building gracefully respects its past
architectural splendor as it embraces and celebrates Ecuador’s modern
artists. In this venue, Mr. Pablo Ponce,
member of the City’s Board, in the name of the mayor of the Quito Metropolitan
District, spoke to the many mayors from across Latin America and Spain of the
need to focus on their people. Attention to the needs of their people should be
the compass that influences their decisions.
We agree! That is what our Microsoft
CityNext initiative is all about.
Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me
know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.