Medellin Becomes A Fourth Industrial Revolution Network's Affiliate Center

Medellin joins global cities to integrate the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network hub and affiliate centers.
Susan Fourtané

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also called Industry 4.0, is "the age in which scientific and technological breakthroughs are disrupting industries, blurring geographical boundaries, challenging existing regulatory frameworks, and even redefining what it means to be human," according to a whitepaper published by the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in December 2018.  

As part of the global Industry 4.0 strategy, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network has selected cities to be hubs and some additional ones to function as affiliate centers. The latest affiliate center announced was Medellin, in Colombia. 

Medellin: First Spanish-speaking city that becomes a Fourth Industrial Revolution Network affiliate center

The latest city that was announced to be one of the affiliate centers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network was Medellin, in Colombia. Colombia President Ivan Duque made the announcement during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 22 this year.

The city won a global competition to host the new center with the help of the Colombia national government, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Ruta N, and Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellin y el Area Metropolitana (ACI). Colombia is the first Spanish-speaking country to host one of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network's affiliate centers. 


The centers that make up the network are set to be global hubs for public and private collaboration and impact of the emerging technologies with the aim of shaping a better world. 

During the last few years, Medellin has gained international recognition due to innovative practices in a sustainable environment and land use management, economic investment, infrastructure, technology, mobility, and research. Medellin has also been the host of several global innovation conferences. 

"I would like to say that Colombia feels extremely proud to be the headquarters of one of the four Centers that will be inaugurated in 2019 for the Fourth Industrial Revolution," President Ivan Duque said during the announcement in Davos. 

Medellin: Public electric vehicles deployed in the city in 2019 

To lead through example, the city of Medellin is going to deploy 64 electric public vehicles this year. The first buses will be delivered in the second half of 2019 and will start operating in August. Chinese auto giant BYD won the bid to deploy the electric vehicles in the Colombian city.

The 62 vehicles are 100 percent electric. The fleet is the largest of its kind in the country and the second largest in South America after Santiago, in Chile, where a fleet of 100 zero-emissions buses was deployed last year.

Mayor Federico Gutiérrez said they want to "turn Medellin into the capital of electric mobility in Latin America." The vehicles are going to cover more than 300 Km daily with a capacity for 80 passengers. Electric charging points are going to be installed around the city to support the electric vehicles' operations. 

According to President Duque, incorporating Medellin as a center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network means an opportunity to adapt in terms of education, regulation, and business development. It also means to create a better environment in Latin America in what concerns the types of technologies that bring the Fourth Industrial Revolution alive, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Drones, Blockchain, and precision medicine among others. 

Something that cities and society need to start working on is how to better prepare for the changes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution bring, as pointed out by Professor Klaus Schwab. 

"What I'm particularly concerned about is how little the world is prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

Present at the launch event was the Mayor of Medellin, Federico Gutiérrez, and Professor Klaus Schwab. Professor Schwab founded the World Economic Forum in 1971 and coined the term the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

Medellin Mayor Federico Gutiérrez said that the Fourth Industrial Revolution research projects could "trigger exponential economic growth, generating equity and opportunities for all sectors of society."

Medellin: A young city with great potential 

Professor Klaus Schwab sees Medellin as a young city with great potential. At the same time, on an occasion, he expressed his concern about the world not being prepared for the change that the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings. "What I'm particularly concerned about is how little the world is prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution," he said. And this is an important point to have present always during this technology revolution.  

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is headquartered in San Francisco with hubs launched in Tokyo, Beijing, and Mumbai in 2018. In addition to these Forum-led centers, the global affiliate centers selected in 2019 include Norway, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the recently added Medellin, in Colombia.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Network's key technology portfolios of emerging technologies  

According to the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, the affiliate centers are managed and operated locally. The host governments commit to supporting and advancing the development and deployment of pilot frameworks on any of the topics aligned with projects launched by the Network. The key technology portfolios include: 

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning 

  • Autonomous and Urban Mobility 

  • Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology 

  • Data Policy 

  • Digital Trade 

  • Drones and Tomorrow's Airspace 

  • Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth 

  • Internet of Things, Robotics, and Smart Cities 

  • Precision Medicine 

The technology portfolios are led by international experts in the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution headquarters in San Francisco. Government, business, civil society, and academia are also working in the portfolios to build creative policy frameworks and protocols for governing all the emerging technologies that are driving the global digital transformation.

Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils

Participants join the network of Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils by invitation only. These are leaders from technology startups, corporations, government, academia, and civil society. They commit to shape and guide the roadmap of emerging technologies for the greater good of humanity. The six current Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils include: 

  • Global Artificial Intelligence Council 

  • Global Internet of Things Council 

  • Global Blockchain Council 

  • Global Autonomous and Urban Mobility Council 

  • Global Drones and Aerial Mobility Council 

  • Global Precision Medicine Council

The collective knowledge gained by each council is going to help understand how human-centered design can be used toward a positive impact of innovative technologies to benefit society as a whole. 

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