February 25 – The Innovative City

Our second day in Medellin started at 7 am by loading the bus for a tour of some the city’s projects that aided Medellin being titled 2015 World’s Most Innovative City. We arrived at the Metrocable system for our introduction to this unique form of public transportation and a ride up the mountain.  The metrocable is a gondola lift system implemented by the City Council of Medellín, with the purpose of providing public transportation service into downtown.  It was designed to reach some of the least developed suburban areas and is largely considered to be the first cable propelled transit system in South America. Since starting operations in 2004, it carries 30,000 people daily and is operationally integrated into the rest of Medellin’s mass transit system, including train and bus Metro systems. Currently it operates 3 lines, with another 2 coming into operation soon.DSC_3904

MetroCable

MetroCable

In the neighborhood known as Comuna 13, we visited another example of innovative urban transportation – the escalator system. Previously, residents had to climb 357 stairs to get into their neighborhood. The addition of the escalators has drastically improved the quality of life for these residents simply by making travel in their community easier.

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Escalators and the view from Comuna 13

Escalators and the view from Comuna 13

In addition to adding these public transportation systems, city planners incorporated public space and green space into the systems’ design. The public space is utilized in a variety of ways depending on the neighborhood; common uses include computer labs, public libraries and classrooms which hosts classes such as language, math, art, nutrition, and dance. Collectively, this has impacted these communities positively with increased community inclusiveness and decreased crime.

Our second morning appointment, took us back into downtown Medellin to meet with Rutan.  Rutan is a collection community minded individuals that are focused on driving innovative economic development their city. Their main objective is to position Medellín as the most innovative city in Latin America by 2021. They concentrate their strategic efforts in the following areas: intensive businesses science, technology and innovation, and sustainability.

Ruta N Headquarters

Ruta N Headquarters

We ate a fabulous lunch at a restaurant located inside the Medellin Botanical Gardens before heading towards the airport for our flight to Bogota. In a surprising travel twist our flight was moved up two hours and despite a very “Home Alone” like experience in the airport everybody and their luggage arrived safely in Bogota.

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Lunch

Lunch

Many of us took advantage of the extra few hours in Bogota to acquaint ourselves with the area near our hotel and take in some local night life. We met at Andre’s for a group dinner. Andre’s provided us a very festive and entertaining evening before retiring to the hotel.