How relevant is the Mexican market for Thales' global strategy?
Mexico is one of the few countries that have continued to grow over the last few years. We consider Mexico and Brazil our two major countries in the region. We have more than half of our headcount in Mexico. In terms of investment and industrial footprint, it is a country with enormous growth potential. We see it growing in the sectors we are involved in. Our industrial activities here are mostly focused on security and transportation, as well as air traffic management. On top of this, we are making headway in the defense sector, which we hope to develop more. Part of the Thales DNA traditionally comes from the defense sector. Even though Mexico is not a country that invests a large amount in its defense in terms of GDP, there are interesting projects that we hope to be a part of in the future.
Why did the company decide to open its software development center for transportation and security here?
We have been active in the transportation and security sectors in Mexico for a few decades. Globally, this is the center of excellence for our tolling and urban security activities. The objective of these hubs is to develop products and innovations such as big data, cybersecurity, and tolling solutions locally in order to be closer to our customers and propose solutions adapted to the Mexican market. Here, we can find excellent software development engineers and a strong need to develop the road infrastructure and secure cities and sensitive assets. Other countries in the region have a great need to continue to develop road infrastructure, and it is an area that will continue to grow. It is natural that in order to maintain an edge over our competitors, we need to invest in R&D. Thales invests 20% of its earnings in R&D.
What is unique about your urban security project Ciudad Segura and what have been its results?
This was a program that was signed in 2009 with the first batch of 8,000 cameras contracted by the government of Mexico City. In 2014, it was extended to encompass another 7,000 cameras, totaling 15,000. The system includes one C5, a large command and control center not far from the airport, and five regional C2s, located in different parts of the city, as well as two mobile C2s, a small-scale version. In addition to the 15,000 cameras, there are panic buttons and license plate cameras. We have seen a significant reduction in the authorities' response time. An intervention that previously took around 10 minutes has been reduced to three to four minutes. In terms of the delinquency rate in the city, there has been a reduction of more than 50% from 2010 to 2016. The general feeling among citizens is that it is now safer to walk around and that the authorities are more responsive.
What are your goals for the coming year?
We need to continue to grow our industrial footprint in Mexico. The first priority is to continue to grow in the area of expertise we have here locally. The fact that we are developing and bringing innovations to our customers implies that we need to preserve this image. We need to continue to invest in our local expertise, which means tolling and ticketing systems, urban security systems, critical infrastructure protection systems, and air traffic management systems. We also need to open our defense market. We have already had a few successes. This segment will continue to be a priority for the group as a whole. Together with my colleagues in Latin America, we will continue to grow the company's presence in the region.