Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New technologies : Beziers, to future “smart city” ? Free Afternoon

Y assine Haddab, head of the department for Networks and Telecoms at the IUT of Béziers, returned to the concept of “smart City”, that the district authority intends to apply in the territory.

what is a “smart city” ?

The “smart city”, that is the connected city of the future that uses new technology to improve its operation. Nearly 75 % of the world’s population will be urban dwellers by 2050, cities will seek from now on to maximize their access to resources or services which could soon be saturated. The "smart city" should contribute to a better management of flows. Whether the energy flows (electricity, gas, water…) but also the flow of traffic. Concretely, it would mean placing, in different parts of the city, of small sensors able to collect information or to act in a given area. Their number will vary according to the area of the city, but also of the fineness of the expected information and of the budget.


It is, in billion of dollars, what should be the market of the "smart city" by 2020, according to a study by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. Thanks to the development of smart grids, the energy is "intelligent" would be a quarter of this new market. France already has a score of smart cities, half of which displays less than 250 000 inhabitants.

“The idea is also to improve the comfort of city dwellers.”

Each sensor transmits its information, local to a server, which stores it automatically in a computer database. This collective step would enable access, in real time, for an overall view taking into account not only the environment, but also its interactions. We could thus reduce the energy consumption by optimizing the public lighting, for example. Sensors would be placed in the streets, that does not explain that the approach of a passer-by or as a function of the natural lighting. It could also reduce pollution by helping drivers to find, thanks to a geolocation system, the closest place more quickly. Or improve the garbage collection by setting the optimal route of dumpsters, which might ignore then the streets empty trash cans. The idea is also to improve the comfort of city dwellers.

The citizen has a role to play in this data collection ?

He could join him-even to the extent of its environment, with its smartphone. These are so many sensors already ready. With that, one could, for example, to measure and transmit the intensity of the surrounding noise in order to sketch out a map of noise pollution in urban… But the idea that each individual participates in the scheme is illusory. And this is not necessary.

The data collected must be accessible to citizens ?

the case of public data, it should ideally enable them to have access to it. Would it be only to inform and raise awareness. But it depends on the nature of the information. One can imagine that those related to the environment are released to the public. But still… The population may panic in the face of the raw data indicating a peak of pollution or seismic information. To the extent that people are not specialists. Will they be able to interpret this information ? It is necessary to know how to manage and filter the influx of data. It is also a question of legislation and city policy. It is up to the community to designate the rights holders. Whether it’s City employees, businesses if the management is outsourced, or even an algorithm…

is it Necessary to protect these data in this case ?

And how ? The data today, it is the sinews of war. It can be used to improve the lives of the population, but it can also become a means of surveillance. Some of the information is less trivial than it seems, so it’s important to accompany all of the technical process in order to ensure that it is not a normal use, even if we can never guarantee total security. The data can be stored in the server itself, but it also requires backups. Either local, or hosted at a variety of places, such as data centers. These digital safes allow you to relocate the data and protect it in the event of a natural disaster, for example… Against hacking attempts, we can also use the encryption.

The smart city allows a management quasi-automated of the city. Is it risk-free ?

No. The aim is to move towards the optimum, and this requires a rigorous management of things. But it is necessary to ensure that the individual remains at the heart of the system. They could benefit from these data and that the process is transparent. It would lead, if not to the digitization of life. It would be tragic.

The Chipboard plank on the subject

The district authority does not hide its interest in the smart city. The community plans to install lighting systems and parking smart in order to achieve energy savings and facilitate the life of the city dweller. A pass Agglo, allowing a single access to various community services (bus, swimming pool, media library…) is also on the study. “It is still pre-projects, insists Alain Biola, associate vice-president, digital. Before you can put these devices in place, it is necessary that the optical fiber is installed on the whole territory. This should be the case by 2020. Difficult to offer services connected without a network of quality”. In the same year, a data center storage of the data collected, carried out by the company biterroise Netiwan, should also see the light of day on the business park of Mazeran. Because the smart city is also a way for cities to “develop a new digital economy on the territory,” says Alain Biola.

And at the IUT of Béziers…

This year, students of the IUT start working on a new project the establishment of a platform of connected objects. Credited for 42 000 € by the State, under programmes of investment for the future, this structure should allow to collect, and then process, various data of the territory biterrois. Once the device is installed, the IUT will open up to communities to propose concrete applications. Interested, the district authority has already planned to meet with the team in charge of the project.


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