Are people at the heart of Smart City projects?

Today, with the multiplication of connected devices and new technologies, we are entitled to ask ourselves the question: what is the place of the citizen in all this?

Initially technocentric, the definition of the Smart City concept has evolved over time to include the human dimension.

In the long term, two thirds of the population will live in cities, so it is important to think about the challenges of this increase in the city population. Overall, smart city projects aim to address three issues:

  • Reducing the ecological footprint for a more sustainable city
  • Reducing pollution for a better quality of life
  • Optimizing means of transportation to facilitate mobility

Each of these objectives aims to control the city’s growth to make it more sustainable and pleasant to live in for its inhabitants. But what are the solutions implemented?

The city of tomorrow must respond to environmental issues.

In a Smart City, this is achieved in part through better control of resources (water, energy, etc.). One example is smart meters, which offer operating savings from the moment they are installed, thanks in particular to remote reading. The recovered data allows to know the exact consumption and to take measures to reduce it. This reduces the impact on the environment and the cost of energy to the community. Other connected devices also have the same objective, such as intelligent street lamps that adapt the brightness according to events: the passage of a pedestrian, a car, etc. Dynamic lighting reduces visual pollution and, of course, electricity consumption, but it has also been designed to ensure the safety of users.

The growth of cities also involves the construction of new buildings and they too can become “smart”. Buildings are connected and now designed to adapt to events. They have a better energy performance and are for example able to change automatically the temperature of a room for the best comfort of all. These Smart Buildings must integrate perfectly with their environment and thanks to their interconnection will offer in the future services adapted to each inhabitant.

In addition to more responsible consumption, Smart City projects aim to reduce external pollution and improve the quality of life. Several solutions have already been tested and validated, such as the automatic measurement of air quality, which makes it possible to react quickly if a certain threshold is exceeded, for example by introducing alternating traffic. Another example is the use of temperature sensors scattered throughout a city to collect temperature data at regular intervals. This gives an accurate mapping of possible heat islands. Changes can then be made to lower the temperature and improve the well-being of the inhabitants of the areas concerned.

Smart Cities, or how to make cities more intuitive.

As cities are expected to grow strongly in the coming years, it is important to ensure that their inhabitants and future inhabitants do not feel left behind. Technology in Smart Cities is only a means to a better city, not an end. It is imperative that the human being is at the centre of the city of the future if it is to be sustainable. All the data collected with the help of the various sensors and intelligent objects give a precise indication of the conditions of use of the elements making up the city (transport, services, car parks, etc.) and the habits of the inhabitants without entering their private lives. The technology must be as invisible as possible and at the same time transparent in order to be accepted by everyone. The study of real uses is the basis for the creation of new services proposed in the framework of Smart City projects. Indeed, thanks to the new technologies available, they will be perfectly adapted to everyone’s habits and will be intuitive. To complement the connected devices, many Smart Cities are making the most of citizens by asking for their opinions and ideas through collaborative platforms. This allows people to reconnect with each other to create value, so the city is co-produced through the involvement of citizens in future projects. Without digital technologies this co-production would be more difficult and less effective.

 

The smart city puts technology at the service of its inhabitants to offer them a more pleasant environment adapted to their daily concerns.

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