The Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (SICT) created the Smart Villages, Sustainable Wellbeing project with which it seeks to provide free satellite connectivity to public sites in rural locations so that they can take advantage of the possibilities and resources of the internet.
According to the plan, in order to participate in the project, the areas must have an economic agricultural or fishing vocation, with potential for sustainable tourism, that are located in protected areas, or that 50% of the productive population is female or indigenous , and that has a school enrollment greater than 20%.
Jorge Bravo, president of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi), explained that the design of Smart Villages to connect towns is interesting, however by delimiting only areas with economic potential, it discriminates against sites that may not have that vocation. but that require connectivity for their development not only monetary, but also educational.
“This plan only links peoples that have some potential for economic development through a primary activity such as agriculture, but connectivity is universal and a fundamental right, you (government) would have to connect everyone and make all peoples intelligent not only with the economic approach. What connectivity allows you to do is take development where there is none, ”he said.
For his part, Michel Hernández Tafoya, director of the Observatory of Telecommunications of Mexico (Observatel), assured that the SICT should not define economic criteria to determine which towns should be connected.
“A vulnerable area is not necessarily one that has an economic vocation, whatever that means, because it may be one that due to orographic conditions requires access to a community like Creel, in Chihuahua, where there is a very intense industrial and agricultural sector, but they barely have 3G and many 2G ”, he assured.
The agency in charge of Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal specified that as of November 30, 2021, 50 Smart Villages were installed in 11 states of the republic, where Chiapas had 18, followed by Oaxaca with 8. However, it did not specify the towns who connected or how many people have been benefited by this project.
The challenges of developing Smart Villages
Currently, the program uses satellite technology, obtained as a consideration for the Reserved Satellite Capacity of the Mexican State.
For the experts, the use of satellite technology can initially be functional, but to reach the objectives that a Digital Village seeks, greater connections and more developed links are required. Devices and joint work with educational and health services are also needed for residents to develop technological skills.
According to the SICT, once the towns become Smart Villages and use technology and consolidate their appropriation, social gaps, financial inclusion, the development of digital skills, the exchange of knowledge with other communities, as well as telemedicine or teleworking.
Experiences in other countries
The creation of Smart Villages, a design created by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a specialized agency in telecommunications of the United Nations, has been an interesting attempt to connect and promote the economic development of peoples in Africa and the Philippines and Peru In Latin America, however, there are still no tangible results of its operation.