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"Smart Cities at the crossroads": the Veolia Institute reviews the benefits of smart cities

Today at the Group headquarters, the Veolia Institute organized a conference entitled "Smart Cities at the crossroads". The aim of the event was to identify the benefits and limits of smart cities in terms of economic development, innovation, inclusion and environmental protection.


"Smart cities are undoubtedly instrumental in root and branch transformation. Digital technology is revolutionizing our consumption, production and work patterns, as well as social links and even our personal relationships. The art of city living is being remodelled through digital transformation," explained David Ménascé, director of AZAO and consultant specializing in BoP (Bottom Up) accessibility strategies.


Organizing new forms of merchant and non-merchant exchange

Smart city digital platforms make it possible to connect citizens and organize new forms of market and non-market exchanges.
For example: launched in Paris in 2015, Lulu Dans Ma Rue is a neighbourhood services project aimed at recreating economic activity on a neighbourhood scale using information technology. This platform, both physical and online, connects people looking for economic opportunities with local residents that want a variety of jobs such as watering, pet care, DIY, deliveries, etc. done for them.

"The Lulu Dans Ma Rue model reflects current societal trends: urbanization, the service economy, the crisis of low-skilled employment and new aspirations. It creates economic activity to cope with the deterioration in the low-skilled job market, and combats insecurity linked to self-employment by maximizing the social utility of its platform," explained Charles-Edouard Vincent, Founder of Lulu Dans Ma Rue and Emmaus Défi.

Smart cities create opportunities, but can also increase inequalities, for example with the creation of new, less secure forms of employment. In fact with all new technologies, it is the people that seize them that determine how they are used.

Open data: an important balance between privacy and the public interest

The increase in open data policies and public interest data and has a potentially very positive effect on the continuity, quality, and universality of urban public services.
However, this data must meet three requirements: respect for privacy and individual freedoms, the consent of the person required to change the system’s default settings, and data aggregation to ensure anonymity.

"The open data approach - which allows the flow of data between different services – should not be at the expense of the privacy of end users. In order to secure the legal framework, the Lemaire law has tasked the CNIL with approving data anonymization methodologies," said Régis Chatellier, responsible for prospective studies at the CNIL.


Veolia encourages residents to engage with their citie

The world is undergoing a digital transformation that affects not only businesses and people, but also territories. Veolia is therefore developing digital platforms that make it possible for technicians, elected representatives and citizens to interact by breaking down silos: a key advantage in the digital transformation of the territories. Smart cities thus increase the role of citizens and release energy. The Veolia UrbanX range embodies this customer co-construction strategy.

"Furthermore, the environment concerns us all, and with everyone’s commitment we will be able to meet this global challenge. The digital revolution that puts citizens back in the centre is a great boost for the environment. In "wiki city", our Urban Pulse platform encourages citizens to engage with their cities. These cities have services provided by start-ups such as Voulezvousdîner or Zenpark with which Veolia has signed partnerships. Through data collection, this technological revolution enables us to also engage citizens and elected officials in a dialogue that complies with CNIL requirements," concluded Alain Staron, the Group’s Senior VP Digital Strategy.


More : 

The Veolia Institute site
Facts Reports “Smart cities at the crossroads”
Lulu dans ma Rue is a project supported by the Veolia Foundation