Not far from Copacabana Beach here is a control room that looks straight out of NASA.
City employees in white jumpsuits work quietly in front of a giant wall of screens — a sort of virtual Rio, rendered in real time. Video streams in from subway stations and major intersections.
A map glows with the locations of car accidents, power failures and other problems.The order and precision seem out of place in this easygoing Brazilian city, which on this February day was preparing for the controlled chaos that is Carnaval. But what is happening here reflects a bold and potentially lucrative experiment that could shape the future of cities around the world.
The Operations Center of Rio and its system were designed by IBM at the request of Rio’s mayor. It is the handiwork of an IBM unit called Smarter Cities.
Guru Banavar, an I.B.M. executive, says, “I have seen better infrastructure in individual departments in other cities,” said Banavar, IBM’s chief technology officer of the global public sector. “But I haven’t seen this level of integration in other cities.”