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How data helped Mexico City reduce high-impact crime by more than 50%

An open data policy has helped Mexico City reduce crime.

An open data policy has helped Mexico City reduce crime. Image: Unsplash.

Alfredo Molina Ledesma
Partner, LATAM Infrastructure & Capital Projects, Deloitte
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This article is part of: Annual Meeting of the New Champions

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  • In 2018, only 7% of Mexico City’s residents considered the city a safe place to live.
  • Since then, Mexico City has reduced high-impact crime by more than 50% with the help of a new open data policy as part of a comprehensive crime-reduction strategy.
  • With better access to data, municipal agencies can access fine-grained information to create targeted policies, and app developers use the data to map not just crime, but also safer transit routes.
  • The open data policy was supported by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance.

When Claudia Sheimbaum Pardo became Mayor of Mexico City 2018, she wanted a new approach to tackling the city’s most pressing problems. Crime was at the very top of the agenda – only 7% of the city’s inhabitants considered it a safe place. New policies were needed to turn this around.

Data became a central part of the city’s new strategy. The Digital Agency for Public Innovation was created in 2019 – tasked with using data to help transform the city. To put this into action, the city administration immediately implemented an open data policy and launched their official data platform, Portal de Datos Abiertos. The policy and platform aimed to make data that Mexico City collects accessible to anyone: municipal agencies, businesses, academics, and ordinary people.

“The main objective of the open data strategy of Mexico City is to enable more people to make use of the data generated by the government in a simple and interactive manner,” said Jose Merino, Head of the Digital Agency for Public Innovation. “In other words, what we aim for is to democratize the access and use of information.” To achieve this goal a new tool for interactive data visualization called Sistema Ajolote was developed in open source and integrated into the Open Data Portal.

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The new open data portal has had a transformative effect on how municipal agencies access and analyse crime data. It enables better coordination across departments, and the creation of more targeted, data-driven policies which focus on the crime “red zones” across the city.

But when it comes to a tough problem like crime, everyone has a role to play in finding innovative solutions. To this end, the open data strategy, based on a model policy developed by the G20 Smart Cities Alliance, also enables citizens to develop strategies for keeping people safe.

Information that had never been made public before, such as street-level crime from the Attorney General’s Office, is now accessible to everyone. Academics, businesses and civil society organizations can access the data to create solutions and innovations that complement the city’s new policies. One example is the successful "Hoyo de Crimen" app, which proposes safe travel routes based on the latest street-level crime data, enabling people to avoid crime hotspots as they walk or cycle through the city.

Since the introduction of the open data policy – which has contributed to a comprehensive crime reduction and social support strategy – high-impact crime in the city has decreased by 53%, and 43% of Mexico City residents now consider the city to be a safe place.

What is the impact of Mexico City's model policies?

Mexico City’s crime reduction achievement was not a straightforward process. After implementing the initial open data policy in 2019, they recognised that they lacked a long-term strategy for data disclosure and the portal was not being used as hoped. They sought the help of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance who introduced the city to a global model policy, and helped to transform the open data portal into what it is today. The city aims to enshrine this revised approach in a new, more robust open data policy by the end of the administration’s term in 2024 and make permanent their data-driven approach to policy-making.

The model policy served as a practical guideline for Mexico City to help align their own approach with best practices from other cities. Significant implementation support came from the G20 Alliance’s Latin America hub, led by Deloitte, which takes the global model policies developed by the Alliance and helps cities across the region adapt them to the local context. The regional hubs are the instigators of change – helping places like Mexico City make on-the-ground changes that transform their approach to data and technology.


How is the World Economic Forum supporting the development of cities and communities globally?

“The work we do through the regional hubs is where the action happens,” said Fumikazu Kitagawa, partner at Deloitte Japan. “We help turn international best practice into locally-specific policies that make smart cities more responsible, data-driven, people-centric, and future-ready.”

In addition to Latin America, the G20 Alliance and its partners are working with more than 100 cities around the world to support the adoption of transformative tech policies. In Istanbul, the city is making digital services accessible for people with disabilities through a transformative new procurement policy. In Tsukuba City, the local government is putting citizen trust at the heart of the city’s digital transformation programme by piloting a new privacy policy, the first of its kind in the region.

To learn more about how the G20 Alliance is expanding its network of cities to accelerate the responsible use of data and technology, click here.

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