Smart City

Smart City, specific challenges for developed cities

Par : Sandrine Matichard
13 August 2019
Temps de lecture : 4 min

The Smart City market is expected to be worth $28bn in 2023, a doubling in 6 years. While Asia and developing cities are achieving rapid growth, western cities still make up more than 50% of the market. But Smart City methods are very different depending on whether they're applied to an up-and-coming city or to the transformation of a city with existing infrastructures and a historic identity. HUB Institute's new Smart City series aims to explore the second of these challenges.


City transformation is right in front of us, and it is smart. By Smart City, we mean installing linked systems in the city, capable of optimising all kinds of flows (energy, traffic, buildings, etc.) to make things more efficient. Asia often grabs the attention in this field due to the ambition of its proposed innovations, like Songdo, the 100%-connected Korean city (which still struggles to attract residents), or Shenzhen, one of China's showcase Smart Cities.

Shenzhen Smart city

The Shenzen's brain room, one of the Smart City application presented by Huawey in it's showroom

Developed "historic" cities have also taken their digitisation in hand. This is the "brownfield" Smart City (as opposed to 'greenfield' for cities in development). They will still make up the majority of the market in 4 years' time:

marché des smart cities

Europe and France are somewhat ahead

Whilst, according to Deloitte, China is claiming 500 Smart City projects, Europe has 90, of which 25 are French cities, as highlighted by a recent JDN survey which confirms that the innovations are mainly being driven by open data:

Utilisations de la smart City

Use of Smart City in french cities

But rather than install infrastructures from scratch, they need to take into account local urban characteristics, infrastructures already in place, economic challenges and also the heterogenous character of the data sources.

Smart yet constrained

Urban structures, for example, can only be upgraded piecemeal. Mobility is the hot topic, but narrow streets can only be partially optimised. Certain types of data are open, while others are jealously guarded. Stakeholders can also oppose changes, especially those which affect heritage, etc. The city transforms, but on a case-by-case basis.

The needs of residents in these old and developed cities are shifting towards:

  • more optimisation: optimisation of space, time and local finances
  • more convenience: residents want better access to public services, businesses that are free of waiting and delivery constraints, an improved environment, etc.
  • more interaction: a city that's friendly, safe and inclusive, where the resident's voice can be heard.

3 key demands to which the smart use of data provides practical solutions.

Data exists everywhere, in local and national public services, among retailers, service providers, and on GAFA or participatory platforms.  5G will multiply connectivity, and thus data sources, and the ability to use them in real time and in high volumes, to feed the smart city. But at the same time this data is not sufficiently pooled.

The challenge in market development lies in the ability of players to create the most connected ecosystem possible. This involves the identification and interoperability of these scattered data sources, the ability to make them talk to each other while taking into account what already exists. The HUB Institute has carried out the following mapping:

mapping des opportunités de la Smart City

These are needs which constitute business opportunities for commercial players who provide support for cities.

5 examples of innovations to watch

  • In Toulouse, the city is partnering with EasyMile and Alstom to test autonomous vehicles on the IUCT Oncopole site. This is just one of the many experiments run as part of the "Open métropole" project which should affect the transport network and traffic management, electricity use, street lighting, tourist routes etc. from 2020 onwards. The city also wants to set up "village squares" which will bring together several services (cleansing, transport, information, etc.) and promote social links via 10 cross-generational districts.

  • In Rennes, a digital twin of the city has been created, in partnership with Dassault Systemes, integrating topographical data, mobility, health, etc. to combine local data at city level, in order to promote a partnership between all stakeholders and simulate the transformations before carrying them out.
  • In Dijon, a city of 160,000 inhabitants, public services (municipal police CCTV, city transport, car parks, shared bikes, phone calls to city services, crisis units etc.) have been brought together in the same command centre with a total of 75 staff to facilitate public action and intermodal transport.
  • In Lyon, the Optimod’Lyon app offers traffic prediction: the user receives an alert an hour beforehand that suggests the most appropriate mode of transport (public, car, bike/walking), thanks to real-time traffic data processing and the contribution of users.

  • In Europe, Santander is one of the oldest European experiments. The "Pulso de la Ciudad" app combines participatory data from residents and data collected from 12,000 sensors to give information on traffic and parking problems or emergencies. Similarly the Smart Santander AR app provides access to 2,700 city webcams and data sources enabling monitoring of road traffic, weather, beach crowd levels, etc.

To report on this transformation, the HUB Institute is creating an annual series of Smart City events that will take place throughout the year: HUBTALKs, learning expeditions including the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, and a HUBDAY next December

Please get in touch to find out more.


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Content & Insights Director

Sandrine Matichard is the Content & Insights Director at HUB Institute.

Transforming the media with a both an editorial and business eye, she began her career as a journalist, then a marketer in mainstream media (L'Equipe TV, L', La Tribune, Libération, etc.), and finally as editor in the BtoB Strategies media department. She is now devoted to the editorial strategy, for brands or for the media: background, form, timeframes, multi-channel deployment, new concepts, etc.

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