Paris, a city embracing innovation
This week, the New Cities Summit takes place in Paris; a city that has experienced groundbreaking changes in city planning – think Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Haussman was famous for modernizing Paris during the mid-19th century. The reconstruction of Paris involved all aspects of urban planning, including the demolition of 27,000 of the city’s 66,000 buildings. This made space for new boulevards, avenues and parks, turning the city into a sustained organic unit, and a huge modern workplace with a large economic turnover.
Today, Paris continues to develop, evolving so that it can cope with the increasing demands imposed by its expanding population. And it’s not alone. Paris is just one city that is implementing ICT infrastructure to solve problems that didn’t exist when it was first built. Many of the top-scoring cities in the Ericsson Networked Society City Index share a vision of achieving sustainable urban development. New York, Tokyo, Paris and London are all ranked closely together, and these cities are characterized by relatively high ICT maturity and triple-bottom-line leverage. One of the success factors shared by cities with mature ICT infrastructure is that they foster innovations.
An examination of ICT-driven initiatives within the city of Paris reveals a structured approach to using ICT to foster innovations. The first citywide car-sharing program for electric vehicles, Bolloré, is a case in point. This program could be the start of a new era of public transport solutions with ICT as a major enabler. The municipality is also collaborating with Paris Innovation Labs on the development of high-tech urban outdoor furniture. This will make previously internal municipal data sets, such as detailed statistics and maps, available to the public, with the aim of spurring the development of innovative solutions and improving delivery of public services – as already seen in London and New York. There are direct benefits to making metropolitan data sets available, such as smart applications for citizens, as well as business opportunities for local small and medium-sized software developers. You can read more about this here.
However, I wonder which city will be the first to break the mold by radically changing its transportation system (this should at least be of the same magnitude as transitioning from horse-drawn carriages to trains and subways). Which mega city will be the first to go car-free? Which city will radically change the way we build houses to become truly sustainable in the Networked Society? Which city will be the Paris of the 21st century?