« SMART CITY projects : Gadget ou creation of actual collective value ? »

Les Projets SMART CITY : Gadget ou création de valeur collective ?
July 13, 2017
Smart City

Currently, there is no method to calculate and quantify the socio-economic impacts of Smart Cities projects. However, there are three reasons why this challenge has become essential.

From the "pioneer cities" (Nice, Montpellier, Issy-les-Moulineaux), through the cities that are consolidating their approaches (Grenoble, Toulouse, Paris or Rennes), to the "more recently committed communities" (Mulhouse, Chartres, Roubaix, Plaine commune... ), a growing number of French cities have already taken the turn towards smart cities - cities that use new technologies to offer new services and modernize themselves - by implementing projects that cover dimensions as diverse as mobility, the environment, the citizen, governance, daily life and the economy.

However, France is still lagging behind its European neighbors, in particular because the vast majority of French cities are still outside this movement. There are several reasons for this: an ill-adapted legal and administrative framework, a slow cultural transition, a lack of resources and dedicated teams, public finances that call for parsimony, but also and above all the uncertainty and lack of visibility as to the real impacts of projects, are central elements that explain the hesitation of public decision-makers to take the plunge. "It is true that at this stage, there is no reliable, pragmatic and shared method for calculating and quantifying the socio-economic impacts of smart city projects. However, taking up this challenge has become essential for three main reasons:1. To anticipate: spend better in a context of constrained public financesWith the decrease in local government allocations, there has been a drastic decrease in local public investment. However, this strong financial constraint has the advantage of encouraging local authorities to better consider the long-term usefulness of their investments. Only projects with a high socio-economic return for the territory should be launched.2 Among the promises of the smart city are the creation of innovative, local and sustainable jobs, the acceleration of the economic attractiveness of territories, a sustainable and energy-efficient city, a "transparent" city with participatory governance... However, not all the promises linked to new technologies and digital technology will necessarily become reality. Not every French territory will be able to attract the future Google, Airbnb or Blablacar...! Socio-economic assessment applied to the smart city will make it possible to take into account local specificities and help local authorities to better size their investment projects.3. 3. To rationalize and legitimize public decision-makingFaced with the rise of participatory democracy, local elected officials sometimes lack the tools to objectify their strategic decisions, reassure their constituents and thus secure their choices. The sanctioning of elected officials by the vote can be a threat that leads to inertia or excess. The socio-economic evaluation of smart city projects must become a tool that is easy to use without being permissive; a real tool to help make informed decisions. If the smart city, digital technology and new technologies can be a real opportunity for territories, it is important to take the time to analyze and anticipate the impacts of each project. To this end, developing a socio-economic evaluation methodology specific to smart city projects is a priority.

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