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Not only cities can achieve a deep digital transformation in search of being “Smart”, it is also possible that regions and rural areas, constitute a significant digital transformation that improves the quality of life of its inhabitants.

But although digital transformation is the best possible strategy to face the present and future challenges of contemporary civilization, before resorting to the technological component, it is necessary to recognize and strengthen the multiple dimensions that make up the social fabric of the territories.

What are the necessary dimensions for the incubation of Intelligent territories?
By: Gabriel E. Levy B.

Gloria Isabel Quintero Pérez, researcher and expert in Urban Studies at the University of Antioquia, in a recent publication of the Revista Territorios, of the Universidad del Rosario, defined Smart Territories as socially constructed spaces that, regardless of their size, “have administrative control and a sustainable project for the future based on their identity and their singularities”.

The Intelligent Territories must be common to all its inhabitants, positioning people as the axis and center of development, where their intelligence transcends the individual sphere and filters to the whole of society, being necessary that they are economically competitive from their particular virtues, as well as efficient in the provision of public services.

“Smart Territories must be articulated in their infrastructure and services with digital platforms and must be based on environmentally sustainable processes“[1].

The purpose of Smart Territories

The objective of a smart territory is the creation of knowledge, continuous learning, the promotion of innovation and the use of diverse and inclusive approaches that enable interaction, negotiation and agreement between the different actors and their respective interests; all this, in order to produce a better place to live, work and share[2].

Competitive and Sustainable Development

For the researcher Quintero, the concept of Intelligent Territory must incorporate a new interpretation of concepts such as competitive development and sustainable development, which must be focused on the quality of life of people and their relationship with the natural environment, as well as being integrated into the global market.

In principle, the smart territory is an action model for any territory, which intends to promote its collective intelligence, regardless of its size[3].

Key Aspects of the Intelligent Territories

The researcher Quintero, considers that there are some key aspects that allow the proper understanding of the Intelligent Territory, a look that goes far beyond the technical and comprehensively recognizes the socio-cultural, economic, political, ideological and structural characteristics of the regions, their communities, with their present and future challenges.

Sustainability and Equity

Based on the United Nations Human Development Report, published in 2011, which states that:

“The pressing global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together”, i.e. systemically, Quintero raises the natural difficulty of dealing with “environmental protection when survival is the priority and, therefore, “From a moral and practical point of view, greater equity is a key issue in achieving sustainable development” [4].

This demands that smart territories should focus on incorporating approaches that allow them an inclusive management:

“A special look and an adequate prioritization of resources on the most vulnerable” [5].

In turn, sustainability plays an important role in contemporary times, being defined as the rational use and exploitation of one or several present resources, without compromising the availability of the same resource for future generations, from an ecosystemic view of the environment, that is to say that the preservation of the good must be guaranteed together with the other resources that make up the entire ecosystem that surrounds it.

Continuous capacity for learning, knowledge and adaptation

The success of a real digital transformation of the territories is mediated by continuous learning, an indispensable prerequisite for an innovative society, where knowledge, both internal and external, significantly enhances the ability to connect and use for the benefit of the common good, which ultimately means promoting and applying collective intelligence as the main instrument for the joint construction of the navigation route in the transformation process.

The concept of collective intelligence refers to a form of intelligence that arises from the collaboration of diverse individuals, generally of the same species, for the construction of concepts or processes that are relevant for that group or community.

Systemic Approach

A systemic approach, which identifies competitive advantages, allows the territory to recognize its idiosyncrasy and find its competitive uniqueness in a global framework, based on an understanding of its relationships.

This type of approach proposes a method of approaching the objects and phenomena in an integral way, that is to say, the components are not recognized as isolated elements, but have to be understood as part of a whole, in such a way that all the variables involved are taken into account, achieving much more effective results and in accordance with the needs of the community and the socio-cultural reality.

Territorial Governance

It refers to a type of leadership and administration of the territory based on effective public participation, through the shaping of projects based on the expectations and needs of the people who live in the region, recognizing and involving collaborative relationships between citizens, government, businesses and educational institutions.

Governance must always be built on the basis of a balanced interrelationship between the State, civil society and the market, aiming at stable and sustainable economic, social and institutional development.

Collaborative Networking

It refers to the articulation with different actors and sometimes with other territories, promoting competitiveness and enhancing collective and digital intelligence in that territory, advocating for sustainable development and social cohesion.

Networking is based on building long-term relationships of trust that promote the strengthening of communities, empowering the capacities of individuals and integrating efforts for the construction of a common goal.


Understood as the continuous improvement in any existing production function, Innovation seeks the improvement of processes with the present resources available, promoting creativity in all the agents of the value chain.

In the case of the construction of intelligent territories, social innovation should be promoted as a dynamizing element of the territorial potential to face particular problems or situations that, from a systemic and sustainable approach, need to be transformed in the territory itself.

In conclusion, any rural or urban region, can covert digital transformation projects that turn them into Smart territories, but to achieve this it is necessary that first there is a mediation based on multiple social, economic, political, cultural, technological and academic dimensions, in which there must be an active participation of the community, promoting a new ethic with respect to the natural and urban environment, promoting competitive advantages in relation to its uniqueness, as well as strengthening cohesion and social balance.

Territories must build a coherent structure of government and governance, which provides the keys for dialogue and articulation of the environment in an ecosystemic way, always incorporating innovation and articulating in a balanced way the physical and virtual world.

[1] Publication in the Journal Territorios of the Universidad del Rosario.

[2] Gloria Isabel Quintero Pérez in Publication in the Journal Territorios of the Universidad del Rosario.

[3] Gloria Isabel Quintero Pérez in Publication in the Journal Territorios of the Universidad del Rosario.

[4] The Seven key aspects of Smart Territories raised by: Gloria Isabel Quintero Pérez in Publication in the Journal Territorios of the Universidad del Rosario.

[5] The Seven key aspects of Smart Territories raised by: Gloria Isabel Quintero Pérez in Publication in the Journal Territorios of the Universidad del Rosario.