guatemala city

September 6, 2015, the city where I live had general elections. So much was said by Candidates, and it was so obvious that the municipal problems would never get solved,  so I went online to look for more information about cities.

I found an interesting MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) called The next generation of Infrastructure by TU Delft University. According to the course it seems that cities are techno-social systems. As a result the organization we tend to see as an static object is a dynamic almost organic being, It’s amazing and  fascinating to understand the depth of the anatomy of a city.

Impression of the Harp (Florian Heinzelmann, SHAU, TU Delft)


Studies show that by 2050, seventy percent of the global population will live in metropolitan areas.  City governments around the globe will have to adapt at light speed to catch up with increasing populations and demands for infrastructure in water and electricity supply, roads, schools, security et al, due to this growing population.

A few days after I finished the course, I had the privilege to converse with the Mayor of the  city of Guatemala, Mr. Álvaro Arzú. We discussed infrastructure issues. He gave me a clear understanding on how long it takes in public administration to go from creating a plan to its implementation; public administration is very slow.  It’s obvious to me now, that the perception of unsolved city problems is an issue of speed of action; by the time solutions are implemented the problem has already evolved. That is like standing at the starting line of a obstacle race where the obstacles change every second; the runner has to consult and explain what he is doing at each step. Like that, cities are living systems and are in constant change; on the other hand government bureaucracy is rigid and slow.

By now some readers must be thinking about corruption as part of the problem; very true, but as one more component of a complex problem. I believe municipal governments will have to become more autonomous and distance themselves from the central government. Cities should have their own education, security, and health systems, with resources based on its citizen’s needs. It may sound impossible. After all, cities are the future of human society, and the best solution to protect the environment, through the sum of local efforts that add up to a macro solution. As Ripley would say,  believe it or not!

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