Santiago Fernandez Reyes explores sustainable cities with World Resources Institute in Mumbai, India

With the goal of increasing road safety in one of India’s largest cities, Reyes devised urban design strategies to improve pedestrian infrastructure.

Bringing MIT technology to India

In summer 2016, Santiago Fernandez Reyes traveled to India to join the Road Safety Team at World Resources Institute (WRI) in Mumbai. Together with five other colleagues, he collaborated to conduct research and pilot designs aimed at improving road conditions and increasing pedestrian safety. “I conceptualized and carried out a pilot for an automated data gathering procedure to assess the safety of road infrastructure, relying largely on mobile technology developed at MIT,” reflected Reyes. This technology increased their capacity to better understand the role of certain types of infrastructure in producing safe streets.

After conducting research, “I devised urban design strategies to improve the safety of pedestrian infrastructure. These consisted of low-cost and relatively minor interventions that could yield large improvements in pedestrian safety,” said Reyes. At the end of his internship, Reyes had the opportunity to present his findings to the top executives of the organization. “The connections I made with practitioners and experts in the global, yet small, world of international institutions working on urban development will be useful in the long term of my career.”

Leaving India with new knowledge

“The months I spent in India were a time of great personal learning and growth,” Reyes remembered. He felt he developed new perspectives useful for solving urbanization issues in the developing world, and learned how to trust and defend his ideas. “MIT not only prepared me with adequate technical and analytical skills for the tasks I carried out at WRI, but this experience with MIT-India showed me that cities are made of people and communities. The work we do as planners should come from an understanding of the people we are trying to influence, their values and necessities.”