Friday Inspiration #19 : Smart & The City

IoT’s development is leading to a growing desire of transforming cities to match citizens’ needs and increase their quality of life. More and more cities are therefore considering to invest in digital transformation. Their objective? Becoming Smart Cities.

  • Why and how should we design smart cities?

The two major stakes with smart cities: improving peoples’ quality of life and developing eco-friendly infrastructures.

UrbanTech can help improve citizens’ quality of life. The collection of data can highlight a city’s issues (eg. insecurity, crowded transports, urban heat) and help solve these issues. For instance, French startup Placemeter created a program that detects moving objects and classifies them to measure traffic trends, flows of individuals and identify where infrastructures can be improved.

Smart Cities are also counting on innovative startups to support them through this digital transformation. Many of these startups have developed apps based on a participative concept. Take the example of Waze. Waze is a participative GPS initially launched in Israël to handle traffic jams. Now available worldwide, the app informs users of car accidents, speed limits, radars, police presence and traffic jams.

According to Clayton Banks, CEO and Founder of Silicon Harlem, “the idea is to take data and make it intelligent” by humanizing it. It is not about having data, but about “how do you use data to positively impact the city, the neighborhood and perhaps the country”. (See his entire intervention at La French Touch Conference New York in the video below)

Smart City Panel at La French Touch Conference New York City with Florent Peyre, Co-Founder of Placemeter, Adrienne Schmoeker, Director of Civic Engagement & Strategy City of New York, Clayton Banks, Founder & CEO of Silicon Harlem, Ro Gupta, Founder & CEO of Carmera and Andrew Rasiej, Founder & CEO of Civic Hall and Personnal Democracy Forum

  • Smart Cities in the world

In New York City, the City council is working on making data available for everyone and teaching people how to use the data, with the ambition of empowering citizens. According to New York City’s Director of Civic Engagement & Strategy Adrienne Schmoeker, data is a tool, therefore it can solve problems and help design smarter cities if used efficiently. 

In France, Nice was elected innovation ambassador of Europe at the Websummit in November 2017. Also pointed out as the 4th most connected city in the world1, Nice multiplies projects such as Nice Grid, the first French smart solar area demonstrator. The city is also at the very heart of the Enedis’ InterFlex. InterFlex is a European project supported by five European electricity suppliers who will experiment new energetic flexibilities by trying to adapt them to consumer behavior, renewable energy, and development of electric cars.

Nice is not the only city turned toward UrbanTech. Dubai invested between €5.6B and 6.4B / $7B to $8B into its smart city transformation project2. In fact, French Tech Hub Dubaï was launched in 2016, hosting startups such as Carpool Arabia, Bridgz or Bodyo and French unicorns like Sigfox and Criteo. Speaking about Sigfox, according to French newspaper L’Usine Digitale, the French unicorn would be negotiating with Dubai to equip the city with its technology. By making a deal with Dubaï City, Sigfox would be joining other French startups assisting Dubai in its digital transformation, among which we count Zero.1, who equipped Dubai Design District with Lifi3.

Photograph of Marc Fleschen founder of Zero.1
Marc Fleschen, Founder of Zero.1

Source: Tharawat Magazine

“Smart Région” and “Grand Paris”

Smart Région

In its quest to become smart and connected, the Ile-de-France region announced its “Smart Région” plan. This is why it plans to create personalized, geolocalized and dematerialized services (eg. apps, IoT) for citizens, companies, and collectivities.


2018's budget for the
Source: Ile-de-France |Summary of the Ile-de-France region’s “Smart Région” budget plan 2018: €34.5M / $41.3M to integrate new technologies within high school, €10M / $12M to deploy high-speed broadband, €9M / $10.8M to support incubators, €3.5M / $4.2M to develop coworking, €5M / $6M to launch the Smart Region Initiative

Grand Paris


By 2030, Paris will also be completely transformed. Among the projects: the so-called “Grand Paris”, an enormous plan to connect Paris and “la petite couronne” – the inner suburb. The Grand Paris is the most important transformation project since Haussmann4. Through this project, the city of light is aiming to design the city of tomorrow.

In order to do so, Paris partnered up with Numa in 2016 to create DataCity, an incubator gathering startups that could very well be the ones building the city of tomorrow.

Each year DataCity selects a certain number of startups to complete 14 working groups comprised of large companies and the City of Paris.

A total of 14 startups were selected at the third edition of DataCity last February: GeouniqAffluencesBatiphoenix, BeebryteCo-RecyclageDream QuarkFieldBox.AiMyTrafficMybeelity, Openenergy, Quandcube, Runnin’City, Wegoto and Wintics. The results of their experiments will be shown on June 12, 2018.

carte_paris_v10_en-01-768x567.pngSource: DataCity 

  • In a nutshell

The notion of “smart city” seems very large and vague, however, its scope fits the high number of issues that have to be solved. As Clayton said on stage at La French Touch Conference New York: “The smart world is great for the infrastructure of your city, your community, your neighborhood. That says ‘we’re going to have answers, we’re going to have ways to collect the data we’re going to have a portal, we’re going to have a way for people to access’ but the intelligence will be: what can we use that for, how can we solve an issue, how can we then turn it to a health initiative, a first responder initiative.”

1. According to the American research cabinet Juniper Search

2.”Expo 2020, Smart city… Dubaï, une opportunité pour les start-up de la French Tech”, L’Usine Digitale –
3.Light Fidelity or Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system running wireless communications travelling at very high speeds.
4.Baron Haussman was at the origin of a very vast public work program ordered by Napoleon III in th 19th century. Haussmann’s renovation of Paris completely reshaped the face of city

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑