EFEPuebla, Mexico

The 2018 Smart City Expo Latam Congress opened here Tuesday with representatives from more than 250 cities around the world in an effort to present recommendations toward improved urban planning strategies.

The event, organized by the Mexican unit of Fira Barcelona, gathered 400 speakers and some 12,000 attendees seeking to define strategies and solutions for the future development of Latin American cities.

Participants are set to present their projects and expertise, as well as identify the specific needs of communities in order to plan cities around the improved quality of life of citizens without sacrificing their identity.

"It is a space for dialog, insight and coming up with solutions," Fira Barcelona's top executive in Mexico, Manuel Redondo, said during the opening event in the central city of Puebla.

Redondo explained that the event seeks to foster the transformation of territories through collaborative bonds that may expand to other parts of the world The 2018 edition of the congress aims to be a meeting place for agents of change from major Latin American cities.

Yolanda Martinez, the coordinator of the Mexican government's Digital Strategy agency, said that smart cities and technology must be harnessed for the benefit of the population at large.

The head of the National Council of Science and Technology, Enrique Cabrero, said that technological innovation is an essential component of the development of cities, adding that the human factor must be at the center of any actions taken.

"What makes a city smart is its people and good governance," Cabrero said.