Five years ago, Rio de Janeiro faced a number of difficult challenges from social and environmental sources. Natural disasters are a significant risk, for example, the 2010 landslide. “In the city, 68 people died as a result of the floods and landslides.”  In the wider area, “800 [died] in the state, and 15,000 people were left homeless”, mainly the urban poor of the city’s favelas – the slums and shantytowns of the city. The problem is ever-present.  “Much of the city is vulnerable to flooding and temperatures can rise as high as 45 degrees in ‘heat islands’.” 
Rio is the most violent city in Brazil, with 37 murders per 100,000 inhabitants per year. There is a lack of a reliable public transport, and the bus system is the main service in the city. Healthcare demands are changing, and it includes a growing number of people with chronic diseases.
The city needed an initiative which would help it bring together information concerning the environment, transport, crime and medical services to establish a sense of coordination and control.
The city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, decided that the solution was an operations centre which could:
- Coordinate and integrate the operations of multiple agencies.
- Manage public utility and public transport issues.
- Improve safety and respond to emergencies and disasters, and disseminate information to the population, alerting citizens to incidents.
- Act as an operational hub for coordinating safety and security at large events.
The result was the Centro de Operações Preifetura do Rio de Janeiro (COR), “the world’s most ambitious integrated urban command centre”.  While the programme was in roll-out phase, COR collected information from sources such as rain gauges and radar sensors, bus GPS systems, imaging software and social networks, and analysed it in order to make operational decisions. It used social media, news outlets, and sirens throughout the city to give emergency instructions and information services.
The public impact
More than 50 city agencies were connected, and the data integration resulted in more cooperative and efficient relationships between them.
The faster dissemination of traffic and transit information to commuters, buses and taxis resulted in a smoother traffic flow and a better travel experience for commuters and other users of public transport.
The operations centre connected media outlets to the city government, creating transparency and a streamlined method of publishing information. COR has gained a lot of global media attention, especially during the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Public Confidence Fair
The public’s approval levels of COR gradually increased along with the levels of media coverage, as they became more familiar with its aims and functions. After a Brazilian television network did stories on COR, national radio and the foreign press became more interested and the project was viewed more positively by the public.
Stakeholder Engagement Good
The main stakeholders – the city administration and the developer, IBM – made significant investments and provided infrastructure while implementing COR:
- It was a public-private partnership with IBM, who came up with a significant proportion of the financing.
- The city equipped buses, taxis, and metro rail with GPS sensors that allowed COR to monitor movements and locations.
Citizens are also highly engaged, particularly via social media, so they can tweet requests for information from COR, for example.
Political Commitment Good
The Brazilian federal government actively participated in the implementation of project and used social media effectively to increase awareness about COR. The federal government planned to use it as an operational hub to coordinate safety and security during large events like the World Cup and the Olympics.
Rio de Janeiro’s city administration funded the project, installing 600 cameras throughout and monitoring more than 10,000 collective and municipal vehicles via GPS.
Clear Objectives Good
The objectives for COR were to be the hub for all of Rio’s major data feeds, providing citizens with a source of vital information at all times, but especially in times of emergency.
Rio is not the only city with an operations centre like COR, but it is one of the most extensive. “Other cities have similar projects – Madrid has one control room for police, fire and ambulance services.”  However, COR is ground-breaking, and “is the first in the world to integrate all the stages of a crisis management situation: from the prediction, mitigation and preparedness, to the immediate response to events, and finally to capture feedback from the system to be used in future incidents”. 
The COR project was developed with IBM and Oracle, who both had significant experience in developing similar smart city projects, such as operation control centres, although nothing as comprehensive in its scope, certainly in the urban environment. This addressed the issues of technical feasibility.
There was sufficient government funding for the project, augmented by that from IBM. The Rio city administration employed around 15,000 public sector staff on the project, so there were considerable human resources.
COR’s media and operations centre keeps citizens informed about emergency situations and the transport conditions 24/7. The city administration of Rio de Janeiro has oversight COR, which manages its own day-to-day operations and coordination with city and state agencies.
The government created a strategic plan and a Public Management Office to ensure they were making tangible steps towards achieving their goal. The following metrics were applied:
- Monitoring the progress of the project in terms of budget and schedule.
- Assessing the impact and citizen value of the project.
There was strong coordination between COR and the multiple government agencies in sharing information. A number of media outlets coordinated effectively with COR to disseminate the information to the public, which enables essential information to be disseminated in case of any natural disasters and other emergency situations. Citizens are able to participate in the exercise, by providing as well as receiving data.