MY THREE DAYS AT THE S3C SMART CITY AND COUNTRY CONGRESS IN PARIS
A journey of European discoveries
Humbling, exhausting and exhilarating… and also a massive test of my French speaking abilities!
I was there to talk about Smart Planning – not so much the technologies, mainly how technology will offer a new way of doing forward planning. I was interested in what Smart City experts actually thought of the opportunities to have a different, dynamic and real-time, urban plan. Well, I had lots of conversations, some sceptical nods and some wide-open ‘revelation’-style bright eyes. Not much further insights, however….
The Congress provided plenty of stimuli anyways, and in many directions! Weary feet and a long list of things to research are the proof.
But which ones are my highlights?
I must confess that I was deeply interest in how Pascale Luciani-Boyer (politician, entrepreneur and clever woman) painted the picture of elective institutions and the lag of the average local politician in understanding the wave of citizen-to-citizen relations that are now enabled by digital technologies. She did not offer ideas for Smart Planning, but clearly identified both the potential and some of the issues: especially the potential cultural gap between institutions and the more entrepreneurial and energetic sections of the population. Her book is now in front of me (L’Elu(e) Face au Numerique) and promises to be very interesting.
Also interesting were some talks about impending changes in transportation, logistics, robotics. What is amply evident is that countries like France, where public sector funding of new infrastructure is well ahead of the UK, will generate opportunities first. Maybe, however, Britain will generate businesses first – as not so much infrastructure money will create more robust business models. Time will tell.
In terms of software, there was an abundance of packages and systems for cities and administrations to connect with their citizens. This is a particularly sensitive issue as trust in our political classes and administrators is shrinking as fast as the growth of opportunities in an interconnected society. However, I secretly doubt that the average city mayor will have the time to communicate and stay on top of their direct line of dialogue opened up by these clever apps…. Noteworthy, in my opinion, was the Sikiwis’ City Cloud: an app generator software that can be scaled up to serve different communication needs in a city. Other cool software applications relate to the modelling of the urban space and its data: some very exciting example, but nothing yet that resembles the needs of Smart Planning.
Unexpectedly, I found immense pleasure of being part of the Start-Up Alley and Contest presentations. I was acutely aware that ‘products’ (rather than services) are the hallmark of a noteworthy start-up; and good French presentation skills were necessary to even be considered for a mention or prize. So my expectations were low – but I was wrong!
The sense of community and freshness in the Alley was great, as well as the business development discussions and the smiles and friendliness that bound us together: interesting people with clever ideas. Great to be part of it!
MARTINA JUVARADirector at URBAN Silence
URBAN Silence is friendly and fun, but committed to intelligent work