concrete ideas for smart cities

Nathalie Leboucher, the director of Orange’s strategic program on "Smart Cities," outlined her strategy and presented several projects with local French communities during a press luncheon in Paris on July 8. While many studies have discussed smart cities and provided statistical analyses on the subject, this event touched on several concrete examples of smart cities.

a widespread need: transforming city infrastructure and urban lifestyles

Cities are projected to grow by two billion residents, representing 70% of the global population by 2050. To meet these new needs, cities will have to fundamentally transform their infrastructure and the ways people live, work, and play in them. This can be achieved notably by controlling energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as streamlining urban transit systems. New "smart cities" are getting off the ground (and, in some cases, off the sea) in up-and-coming regions worldwide such as in Qatar. But the need for smart cities is also apparent in "First World” countries.

unexpected new players

At first glance, smart cities seem like the perfect market for traditional players in urban development: energy producers and distributors, transportation industries, equipment manufacturers, real-estate developers and builders. At the same time, network and digital players are also crucial to this revolution, whether they’re supporting projects led by traditional players or integrating new services into cities.

concrete projects mark the true launch of smart cities

So let’s take a "Tour de France" of smart city innovations by going over some of the projects unveiled at the press conference:

  • in the Loire-Atlantique department, an emblematic project will accompany the launch of a new rapid bus transit line: 4G technology providing free WiFi to passengers
  • in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, mobile network data will be used to measure how many tourists visit the department, including data on where they go and when they travel
  • this summer the Alpes-Maritimes department will update its natural risk management system with a management tool that uses data from mobile networks, such as the number of mobile phones present in at-risk areas
  • in Q1 2014, Bordeaux will introduce a new mobile app (“Bordeaux in your pocket”) that residents can use to access information tailored to each individual, including information on libraries, public pools and public parking
  • in Strasbourg, passengers can now purchase and validate tram tickets using NFC phones
  • through a partnership with the California startup Streetline, French city dwellers will discover a quicker way to find a place to park, thanks to a tool that guides cars to available parking spaces, also helping townships better manage their parking spaces

All of these projects help make the smart city concept more concrete and easier to imagine.


This post was originally published in French here.

François Duquesnoy

The Orange Smart Cities program provides digital solutions for cities with large infrastructures and extensive citizen services.  These services including from water, environment, energy and transportation, in France as well as internationally.  At the heart of this team, I contribute to the strategy as well as development with French cities.