Building Bridges: how to utilize Smart Nation & City Concepts

Visit Cuban Delegation
January 24, 2019
Smart Nation Curaçao 7th General Meeting
January 30, 2019

Building Bridges: how to utilize Smart Nation & City Concepts

On January 25, 2019, STEP Curaçao organized its monthly luncheon at the Avila Hotel titled “Building Bridges: how to utilize the Smart Nation and City concepts to your advantage”. The session was presented by Roy Jansen, Director of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton in the Dutch Caribbean.

Smart Nation and Cities can only sustain with active involvement of the community, which encompasses not only the people involved from the government but also the people living and doing business in Curaçao. We all know about the smart tsunami of new technologies, services, and products that is coming our way. There are efforts being made to reach the goal of becoming a smart nation but there seems to be a disconnect between those already involved in the project and the general public. There is progress but we don’t see it.

But first what are Smart Cities? Smart Cities should be described as cities that dramatically increase the pace at which it improves its sustainability and resilience, by fundamentally improving how it engages society, how it applies collaborative leadership methods, how it works across disciplines and city systems, and how it uses data and integrated technologies, in order to transform services and quality of life to those in and involved with the city including residents, businesses and visitors.

There are success stories around the world to take note from. Like how Singapore became the first smart nation, an example of where we want to go. Barcelona is another example of successfully implementing elements of s smart city. It has the most environmentally clean public transport fleet and a modern waste management system.

The process of becoming a smart nation has some challenges as well including the rise of the digital divide and digital inequality that comes with the introduction of digital services. If the government doesn’t make sure everyone is connected, digital inequality will increase. Another challenge is the data privacy concept. Data privacy is one f the key enables to a successful smart project. For Curaçao, it is a challenge that needs to be worked on. Having inadequate security measures for personal data increases the risk of Curaçao being listed as noncompliant.

Another challenge is the transformation of education as well as the transformation of government services. The simple notion of working with Artificial Intelligence may seem foreign to many but we don’t realize that we already are using AI technology in our everyday lives. Like when we use Google or a chat box on a website. Many companies with an online presence are using AI technology for customer service. AI technology can be also used to analyze big data and for compliance services.

The Netherlands embarked on the journey of becoming a smart nation and created a Smart Cities Roadmap in order to reach the goal of having Smart Cities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Willemstad will be one of those Smart Cities. In order to get there Curaçao has already its own Smart City vision:

“The Government will develop and promote economic activities and investments in the downtown area based on the vision for Willemstad in the 21st century (“Smart City”). A city on the world heritage UNESCO but with a modern futuristic inclusive ecosystem for a vibrant entrepreneurial sector. Access to state-of-the-art ICT technology and connectivity. Hospitality and modern housing for tourists and locals (especially the younger generation), and a center for education culture and recreation accessible to the whole population. This development must be the model of how to improve the quality of living in all other neighborhoods of the island.”

So what’s the next thing we need to do to move forward towards our goal of becoming a Smart Nation?

  • Store data with the required data security;
  • Educate our people, youth and adults, on the new technologies, services and job opportunities around AI & Big Data, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Digitalization;
  • Share content with our people.

Our advantage compared to other cities which are also planning or are on the way of becoming smart is that we already have a good data infrastructure for connectivity.


Let’s join forces for a sustainable and resilient Curaçao”-Roy Jansen-


Want to know more about the presentation? Contact Roy Jansen, Director of Advisory Services, Grant Thornton in the Dutch Caribbean @

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