(New York, New York, 7 May 2012)
– The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a New York-based think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community, named the Vigilante Taxi Driver (Taxistas Vigilantes) Program of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico as the recipient of its 2012 Founders Award. This year’s recipient reflects the international think tank’s 2012 theme, “Intelligent Communities: Platforms for Innovation.”
The award will be presented during the Intelligent Communities of the World Alumni Dinner on 6 June at Manhattan’s Harmonie Club. The event will be hosted by Silicon Valley’s anyCOMM Corporation. The event takes place on the opening day of ICF’s annual Summit in New York. The invitation-only Summit is organized by ICF and hosted by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University at its Brooklyn Metrotech Campus. The Summit features the participation of the world’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities, each of whom tell their story of success on 7 June.
The Founders Award recipient is selected by ICF's co-founders as part of the annual Intelligent Community of the Year Awards. The Founders Awards, launched in 2008, offer global recognition to individuals and organizations that represent inspiring models of good practice in using information and communications technology to build prosperous local economies and improve the quality of life.About Mexico’s “Vigilante Taxi Driver” Program
The City of Tuxtla Gutiérrez (population 555,000) launched the Vigilante Taxi Driver program to involve citizens in improving public safety and quality of life in this community, located in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Prior to the development of the program, crime was rampant in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and the city was challenged to maintain and upgrade its infrastructure.
The service is provided through the Vigilante Citizen Monitoring System, which consists of an integrated platform that combines the use of cell phones for taxi drivers with multimedia and GPS, and a Web platform that receives and plots the information and makes it available to city agencies responsible for public safety, utilities and maintenance.
Nearly 3,500 taxi drivers between the ages of 19 and 80 use their mobile phones to alert the Citizen Monitoring System about accidents, potholes, downed street lights and leaking water mains, as well as crimes in progress. The system integrates 46 municipal departments and agencies at two levels of government.
Commenting on the award, Tuxtla Gutiérrez mayor Felipe de Jesus Pastrana Granda noted his immense gratitude to ICF and said, “The program has demonstrated its effectiveness and is recognized as part of our Intelligent Community initiatives. It encourages public participation and I am proud to say that it is evidence of the benefits of technology and innovation for citizens. We look forward to the events in New York."
Since the program was initiated, drivers have reported on nearly 2,500 car accidents, 146 stolen vehicles (of which 80% were recovered), and 30 illegal bars, which have since been closed. Vigilante Taxi Drivers have identified counterfeiters of license plates and official documents, assisted in dismantling kidnapping and car-theft gangs, and saved the lives of more than 130 people injured in accidents or crimes.
“The Tuxtla Gutiérrez program represents a near-perfect blend of technology and citizen participation,” said ICF co-founder Robert Bell, who saw a presentation on the application during a 2011 visit to Mexico. “It is the essence of ordinary technology used to achieve a high level of innovation. It relies on the mobile phone—a simple technology—to engage citizens in improving their community.”
For his part, Governor of the State of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, added, "The Taxi Driver Vigilante program is one of the most successful public participation programs in Mexico. It shows the importance of how technology can contribute to the development of cities, and allows citizens to have the tools to be harbingers of change in their community."
Representatives from the program and the city of Tuxtla Guitterez will be on hand in New York to accept the award from ICF’s co-founder, John G. Jung, the City of Suwon, South Korea, ICF’s 2010 Intelligent Community of the Year, and the CEO of anyCOMM, Rob Praske.
More information about the Founders Awards, as well as the recipient of the Visionary of the Year Award, Australia’s Senator Stephen Conroy, and the upcoming Intelligent Community of the Year award is available on the ICF Web site.
Working press seeking complementary invitations to the ICF Summit to cover the awards programs may send their request to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Intelligent Community Forum is a New York-based think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrial or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and progress increasingly depend on broadband communications and other access technologies.
In the 21st Century community, connectivity is changing the definition and experience of communities: threatening established ways of life while also offering powerful new tools to build prosperous, inclusive economies. The Intelligent Community Forum seeks to share the best practices and success of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of what it calls “the Broadband Economy” by conducting research, hosting events, publishing books and newsletters and producing an international awards program. ICF’s publications include Broadband Economies (2008), Future Cities (2009) and an annual report on the year’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities.