Selected by public vote (more than 980,000 online votes were cast during the program), Medellin beat out finalists Tel Aviv and New York City to claim the title “Innovative City of the Year.” Cities were selected for the competition based on eight criteria: environment and land use, culture and livability, economic/investment climate, progress and potential, places of power, education and human capital, technology, and research and mobility and infrastructure.
A ULI press release notes Medellin's accomplishments:
Few cities have transformed the way that Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, has in the past 20 years. Medellín’s homicide rate has plunged, nearly 80% from 1991 to 2010. The city built public libraries, parks, and schools in poor hillside neighborhoods and constructed a series of transportation links from there to its commercial and industrial centers. The links include a metro cable car system and escalators up steep hills, reducing commutation times, spurring private investment, and promoting social equity as well as environmental sustainability.
But a change in the institutional fabric of the city may be as important as the tangible infrastructure projects. The local government, along with businesses, community organizations, and universities worked together to fight violence and to modernize Medellín.