Date Published: Aug. 2, 2017, 12:23 p.m.
hen elaborating the Strategic Plan of the City, the Metropolitan Municipality of Caracas has encountered an increased need to make information rapidly available to the different governmental entities and institutions that were supposed to provide solutions to the challenges of the city. It is in this context that the idea to create Caracas in a click is born. In 2009, IMUTC developed the Metropolitan Urban Information System (SIUM) in a technological platform consisting of the Metropolitan Geographic Information System (SIG-MET) and its public platform, named Caracas in a Click, placing at the disposal of the Public, information of diverse nature through interactive web maps, accessible from any personal computer or mobile device.Caracas in a click is a component of the Metropolitan Urban Information System (SIUM), an easily accessible online tool that allows accessing, visualizing and disseminating information on the Metropolitan Area of Caracas. Its objective is to constitute a citizen-oriented instrument that provides the users with geo-referenced information on the city, and the activities, programs and projects developed by the Metropolitan Municipality and the integrated municipalities. The tool shall promote citizen participation, support the administration and facilitate efficient and well-informed decision-making.
Urban and socioeconomic data
Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, has remained the first city of the country over the last decades and concentrates approximately 11.6% of the total population, as well as major employment, education opportunities, investments and political power. According to the population estimate of the National Census, the Metropolitan Area of Caracas has a population of 3.29 million in 2015. The most affluent neighborhoods have moved to the South-East, central Caracas concentrates marginalized populations. 25% of the Metropolitan territory is occupied by informal settlements, situated mostly in the hilly outskirts of the city. 48% of the housing stock does not have access to sanitation, 26% are left without a stable and daily water provision. Poverty rates in the Metropolitan Area are at 15.9%. Informal employment is concentrated in the central valley of the city, while most residential neighborhoods are located in the periphery, generating large problems of mobility and congestion. In fact, Caracas does not have an integrated public transportation system, and a deficit of express roads of approximately 178km. Insecurity constitutes one of the major problems in Caracas with homicide rates of 130 per 100,000 inhabitants, three times superior to national average. Finally, Caracas is also suffering from an additional condition exacerbating its challenges: a destructive process of political radicalization that has blocked information channels, citizen participation and the action of local governments.
Legal and institutional framework
The urban, sociodemographic and economic dynamics that transformed the city into a metropolis with considerable difficulties for an efficient management of its resources and services. The city was affected by a lack of spatial, political and administrative definition during the second half of the 20th century, reflected in the incoherence of its different functions and a city model based on inequality and exclusion of the poor with severe effects on governability. In fact, the last Masterplan of the city was established in 1983, meaning that the city was growing practically without any legal or administrative control during almost 30 years. In 1999 the problem was addressed by the National Constitutional Assembly that decided to include a Special Law on the Administration of the Metropolitan District of Caracas to the Constitution (Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela N° 36.906 8th of March 2000). The Law created the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Mayor, responsible for coordinating the five municipalities that integrated the Metropolitan Area and for implementing a coherent and integrated city planning. A more recent law, the Special Law on the Metropolitan Regime at two Levels of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas (Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela N° 39.276, 1st of October 2009) abolished the first Special Law and created a political-territorial unity as a moral person allowing for its autonomy (within compliance with the Constitution and national laws). The Law abolished 99.5% of the entity’s budget and attributed two fundamental competencies to the Metropolitan Area: spatial planning and coordination, and the protection of the environment. The metropolitan government identified the implementation of institutional mechanisms to improve the governance of the city as a priority task and decided to formulate the Strategic Plan for Metropolitan Caracas 2020 in 2009. The Plan highlights ways to transform the city in an organized, planned and integrated way, and to incentivize citizen participation in the elaboration of diagnostics and the design of proposals for the city. The plans demonstrates the possibility of working towards a city transformation in an organized, planned way, and through a shared vision of the future enhancing citizen participation in the elaboration and design of proposals. To work towards this vision, the city of Caracas engaged in generating a large amount of GIS-based information on the city and a Platform accessible to the public: Caracas in a Click.
The Metropolitan Municipality faced several challenges in the execution of its main competencies in urban planning, mainly because of the complex institutional and political context of Venezuela. In fact, the Metropolitan Institute of Urbanism (IMUTC) of the Metropolitan government of Caracas, responsible for developing and executing urban planning projects, inspired by programs implemented in Bogota (Colombia), Spain (Spain), Californian cities and the Chacao municipality in Venezuela, created the System of Urban metropolitan information (SIUM) in 2009. SIUM is a platform through which information on the five municipalities that constitute the Metropolitan Area is compiled and projects carried out by these municipalities are processed in order to support the diagnosis and the proposals of the Strategic Plan for Metropolitan Caracas 2020.
The SIUM facilitates the management of large quantities of spatial information that is at the core of planning and evaluation processes, and of urban policies. The SIUM seeks to overcome three main difficulties:
SIUM included the development of a specific online space for citizens where information was made publicly available and accessible for all: Caracas in a click.
Caracas in a click is an online tool that enables the inhabitants of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas to consult and access information concerning their city, mainly on public services, infrastructure and equipment, as well as plans and projects promoted by the city hall. Its aim is to improve citizen-city communication and to increase citizen participation through social control.
The development and implementation of Caracas in a Click was initiated in 2010 and planned in four phases. After 6 months of collaboration between the Metropolitan government and “Tecnologia Digital Avanzada”, the company that launched the application, a first version was presented to the public. The four phases of the project consisted of:
Communication. The existence of the Platform is primarily disseminated through social networks, facebook and twitter. Furthermore, interviews and radio emissions are produced at least twice a year. In June 2015, the Twitter account had a total of 10,000 followers, and the facebook account was followed by 3,000 users.
Service procurement. The platform is based on a data server on which cartographic information and map services are stored. The server is connected to a firewall. The service access is guaranteed through a contract with a private company that provides 4mb bandwidths internet. Before engaging in this contract, the IT service of the Metropolitan government of Caracas conducted a study on the different service providers, and selected eligible companies in compliance with the technical needs and administrative regulations.
Caracas in a click can be simply accessed through the internet without having to download anything, through the following link: http://www.caracasenunclick.com. The user may choose the type of map he wishes to consult on the welcome page, for instance: public spaces, urban expansion areas, bicycle roads, etc. The information provided in these sections can be accessed by all types of mobile devices.
The Platform also contains an Advanced Map that can be accessed through the main menu of the website. The Advanced Map allows the user to explore different layers, such as cultural equipment, public transport, businesses, services, institutions, entrepreneurial information, Caracas en positivo, the Strategic Plan 2020. It is also possible to obtain information on the plans, programs and projects promoted by the city hall. Finally, the online map provides a tool for measuring distances between two points, measuring areas, drawing polygons, conducting area research, etc.
The Metropolitan Institute for Urbanism Caracas is responsible for updating the data and the platform. It coordinates its actions and exchanges information with the corresponding urban planning agencies of the different municipalities, as well as the central government and its technical units. Updated information is integrated to the SIUM database.
Organized communities, neighborhood associations, religious organizations, community councils, as well as enterprises and agencies in the industry, business and tourism sectors are all crucial actors that both access the information presented on the platform and feed the platform with new data.
The project was launched in 2009 and has been operating since. Investments were first needed for the development of the platform, the acquisition of licenses and the alimentation of the platform. Then, investments were directed towards the maintenance and updating of the platform and the integration of new functions. While the initial investment was considerable, the maintenance costs are stable, as can be seen below.
Investment costs(2009 - 2015)
Year/Investmentin $ Amount
Source: data based on the amounts approved and executed by the Annual Operational Plan.
In order to calculate the projected investments for 2016 and 2017 (the last year of the project), a 50% inflation has been foreseen. Despite the inflation, savings of 3,346.75 $ and 5,320.09$ respectively are predicted, resulting from the internet connection that shall be established in sponsorship with private service providers.
Projected investment(2016 - 2017)
YEAR/Investment $ Amount
The inhabitants of the Metropolitan Area dispose of a tool that facilitates their knowledge on the city, its services and public transportation and provides knowledge on programs that seek to improve urban sustainability and the quality of life, and on events organized by the municipalities. The inhabitants of the twelve neighboring municipalities of the Metropolitan Area and their administrations, corresponding to 5.6 million people, also benefit from the initiative, as well as the rest of the country and visitors. The majority of the users of the platform are young and well-educated (43% of all users are aged between 18 and 34 years, of which 53% are students in superior education).
The municipality identifies the following results:
The main difficulties encountered by the Project are of economic and political order. The increase in inflation rates and a steady rise in price levels affect the expenses for software, equipment and salaries. Budget cuts and exchange rate controls have also affected the project. Other challenges included the gathering of information, the acquisition of equipment, and the access to information in the case of the municipality Libertador, a municipality governed by the opposition. In fact, the polarization of public life and politics in Venezuela has complicated the project execution. Public dialogue with all stakeholders involved and the promotion of the platform seek to overcome this challenge. Caracas in a click has operated uninterruptedly in order to ensure the continuity of the Platform. Alliances with service providers, mainly for data storage and internet connectivity, are currently being explored in order to achieve a sponsorship and reduce operating costs.
The promotion and understanding of the idea at all governmental levels was essential to the success of the project, in all sectors and at all times. This constitutes a process that has to be launched even before the conceptual definition of the application and the platform in order to achieve fluidity and continuity in information and data flows between all stakeholders. Additionally, an early dialogue and promotion of the idea guarantees a higher number of users.