Porto Alegre is the capital city of an agrarian state. The community was a success story in heavy industry until rising costs in the Seventies drove industry to relocate to surrounding "satellite cities." To fill the employment gap, the community has focused on building a high-skilled service sector and “clean” industry clusters in IT and life sciences. It has been a “Greenfield” effort, in which government has labored to build digital infrastructure, create the skills and demand for it, and use it to develop a knowledge workforce.
A 350km fiber network called Infovia now connects 190 government buildings. It has generated direct savings on telecom costs for the city and serves as the backbone for a wireless network reaching 93 schools and 100 healthcare facilities. It has also gained its first corporate customers in an industrial park, where broadband helped attract 12 new tenants in 2 years. Porto Alegre has provided over 3,000 low-income residents with free digital skills training, with special accommodations for the elderly and disabled. Using the network, clinics in low-income areas offer remote ultrasound examinations of pregnant women. It has reduced the waiting time for an exam from 4 months to 34 days, and women are now four times less likely to miss a scheduled appointment, because it takes place close to home.
Smart21 2009 | 2010