What will tomorrow's Smart City look like?


Cities are evolving in the face of new demographic, environmental and societal constraints. With four days to go before the second round of the French municipal elections, it is urgent to grasp the multiple challenges of the transformation of our living spaces. Those related to digitalisation, the fight against climate change, inclusive mobility, car-sharing, public transport, intermodality, but also the sharing of urban space, multimodal journeys, deliveries, infrastructures... In short, to a more harmonious city life. Smart cities, or digital cities, could be a factor in the transformation of cities but also of the countryside, via big data, the block chain, artificial intelligence, etc.. UP' interviewed Guillaume VACHER, Manager within the Smart Cities & Territories activity of Magellan Consulting.

" The need to develop new lifestyles will have major consequences on the design of cities. "said François de Mazières, Mayor of Versailles and former President of the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, in a speech to Le Monde. Yes, but it would seem that the future of digital cities - smart cities - is often considered too "technical", according to the speakers in a debate in October 2019 around from the book "Governing the Digital City" (1) researchers Patrick le Galès and Antoine Courmont. Local elected officials must take up the subject so that digital technology at the service of the territory, which allows for a wide variety of uses, becomes an essential vector for improving the quality of life. And according to a study carried out by the Digital Syntecpublished at the end of 2018, 92 % communities over 5 000 habitants would have already launched a Smart City initiative. The two main ambitions: strengthening the link with citizens and reducing costs.
For the environment, for example, air quality in primary schools is nowadays measured with IoT sensors. (2). In the field of participatory democracy, telephone applications allow citizens to give their point of view on specific developments. In intermodal transport, an application enables users to make a journey without interruptions using trams, buses, self-service bicycles, car-pooling, etc. Thanks to public wifi, in some small municipalities, it is possible to access the online management of canteens, or to access municipal information and start administrative formalities. 

The use of digital technology is not the prerogative of large cities; it has irrigated all the territories that are becoming increasingly connected. Not enough, of course, when it comes to fibre optics, ... but the big datas must be able to serve the citizens, the inhabitants of cities and villages alike. Being "smart" means being connected, but above all it means being able to adapt the use of technologies to meet the needs of the local population. There is therefore a systematic and continuous interaction between the needs of each individual, the consumption and the ways of living of all the citizens concerned.

How can the Smart City enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of urban spaces?

Guillaume Vacher Attractiveness is a major issue for the cities of tomorrow. In 2050, two-thirds of the world's population will be living in cities. will live in a city. In a context where mobility and information tools reduce distances and open up the field of possibilities, municipalities are implementing strategies to enhance their economic fabric, their cultural heritage and, of course, to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants.

The Smart City will be included in this approach and will provide a response adapted to each territory. Several approaches are possible. One of them is the creation, by cities, of websites and applications aimed at highlighting local players, shops, cultural & sports activities and connecting inhabitants by presenting, on any type of medium, local initiatives and how to participate in them.

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This information, powered by open dataThe information would then be available on the Internet, but could also be integrated into any vehicle, to optimize travel and find a parking space more quickly. This is already the case on some electric car models, offering the driver a space equipped with a recharging station as close as possible to his or her destination. Taking advantage of recharging, the driver will then have plenty of time to devote to his activities while optimizing his time.

How will the Smart City improve energy consumption, promote energy self-sufficiency and combat pollution?

GV : The smart city of tomorrow will be a key link in the production of green energy and some cities are already working on this. The city of Amiens wants to increase its energy production tenfold while reducing its consumption by more than 60% in order to reach "energy self-sufficiency" by 2050. To achieve this, the capital of Picardy is working on energy efficiency by injecting renewable electricity produced by the buildings while working on their renovation. The piloting of operations made possible by the deployment of intelligent sensors makes it possible to obtain, in real time, the information needed to balance the distribution network and the consumption of the inhabitants. The energy thus produced from natural sources, using solar panels for example, will reduce the overall energy bill and have a positive carbon impact.

Energy produced in the city, by the city for its inhabitants, will also make it possible to develop infrastructure networks for recharging electric vehicles, more commonly known as IRVE, offering low-carbon mobility. It is ADEME's objectiveThe Agency for the Environment and Energy Management, which, at the end of 2019, has selected thirteen refill infrastructure projects powered by renewable energies and with a low impact on the local electricity network.

How does the Smart City affect the environment? How does the Smart City help shape the world of tomorrow, cleaner, greener, more efficient?

GV: The city of tomorrow will take the environment into account, in particular by improving air quality, optimising the consumption of resources and better waste treatment. Achieving these objectives will be accelerated by the use and control of data from the various departments and players in cities. The major challenge will then be to de-pilot the activities in order to capitalize on everyone's information to make the right decisions in the field.

Waste management is a fundamental aspect of the Smart City. Sorting, collection and recycling will need to be addressed to ensure the success of the projects. The Clichy-Batignolles eco-districtFor example, the company has set up an underground pneumatic network linking the depot terminals to the nearest sorting centre. The added value is then realised in the reduction of carbon emissions by optimising the routes of the collection trucks, which are always necessary for bulky items and surpluses.

Another example, air quality sensors have been installed in Grenoble. When they detect a high density of fine particles, the authorities take the decision to reduce traffic speed by displaying a message on road signs. To complete this action, information to the inhabitants is sent by any means in order to limit their travel, limit their sports activities and encourage them to use public transport or alternative modes of transport.

What are the new means of mobility and shared mobility today? How will the Smart City optimise flows and mobility in 2050?

GV: As contradictory as it may seem, the mobile phone is now becoming our personal mobility assistant. As of today, city users can use applications that provide route calculation services integrating multiple means of transport. These applications use shared data and Open Data to increase the experience of their users and thus facilitate their travel.

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Optimising mobility flows is one of the keys to the city of tomorrow. According to the IFOP Institute, one third of urban motorists would be prepared to give up their personal vehicle in favour of shared mobility offers. The city of Paris has understood this by making cars, scooters and bicycles, among others, available to the public. A variety of vehicles for every type of journey.

Tomorrow, the city's infrastructure will certainly offer other types of mobility. With the arrival of "automatic" vehicle piloting, the driver's future will be to be... a passenger. The city's data will then be consumed by the vehicles, optimising transport time. The advent of the autonomous vehicle with low carbon propulsion... tomorrow's mobility will be resolutely different.

Is the Smart City compatible with respect for the privacy of citizens? Can it guarantee the safety of individuals?

GV To adapt to its inhabitants and maintain its attractiveness, the city of tomorrow will continue to try to understand them. Land sensors, cameras and other sensors will be the entry points for the information needed to analyse uses and spaces.

The notion of privacy is essential. Citizens and authorities are vigilant about it. In 2019, faced with the controversy caused by the installation of sound detectors, the city of Saint-Etienne finally postponed their implementation. It should be noted that the CNIL, in France, is very present regarding the protection of privacy in the use of urban sensors and remains a control authority that guarantees this principle.

The exploitation of the data is an overriding issue. Recently, the City of Toronto did not wish to pursue the Quayside program consisting of the rehabilitation of an industrial zone by a Google subsidiary. Criticism from user associations related to the massive use of cameras, lack of consent and lack of information for the targeted citizens will have been the cause of the project.

The attractiveness of an area therefore depends on the acceptance of its uses. smart. Privacy is the key. Also the European programme H2020 including calls for projects Smart City requires that ethical notions be taken into account for each response. It will then be a question of composing projects that guarantee measured approaches to respond to the problems of cities. Knowing the different issues of the territories and the expectations of their inhabitants, the challenge will then be to propose a progressive and inclusive transition through the use of data in order to set up a sustainable, efficient and accepted policy.

Interview with Guillaume VACHER, Manager within the Smart Cities & Territories activity of Magellan Consulting

(1) "Gouverner la ville numérique" by Patrick Le Galès and Antoine Courmont - Editions PUF/Vie des idées
(2) The latest report published by 451 Research reveals the presence of 8 billion connected objects in the world in 2019. Their number should reach a total of 13.8 billion in 2024.

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