How did Nice become France’s first Smart City?

Smart City a challenge for the future

Becoming a Smart City is more than just a marketing ploy; it’s a major future investment which could place a city on the map. It’s an idea which many key players have toyed with, certainly those working to make their country more attractive to global investors by investing in the technology of the future. Nice, France’s fifth biggest city, stepped up to this challenge thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneurs and dedicated local authorities. A smart and well-connected city, Nice has worked hard to attract global investment and entrepreneurial talent which have brought great benefits to the region. It’s therefore a question of rolling out a wealth of new technologies which address the needs of local citizens and companies alike.

how did this scheme develop from its early experimental stages to a successful reality incorporating the work of multiple stakeholders?

For two years, one laboratory (the Mediterranean Institute for Risk, the Environment and Sustainable Development (IMREDD)) has provided data to businesses aiming to develop their working models and solutions (including IoT and other daily activities). Whether said data relates to healthcare, urban business trends or public safety – indeed the entirety of the traditional markers of economic development relying on research from enterprise zones and think-tanks – it is now high time that cities analyse multi-source data more efficiently. As competition on the international stage from players such as Mexico, Rio de Janeiro and San Diego is on the rise, it is now crucial that we work proactively to engage businesses in the opportunities to be seized in the digital age.

“A Smart City is a modern city which makes the most of new technologies including IoT, IA, open data, open source […] to evaluate themselves, recognise the environment and put the citizen at the heart of all that they do. Smart Cities develop the skills to predict and anticipate the future, pioneering intelligent collaboration strategies in the process” remarks Fabienne Gastaud, president of the Côte d’Azur Smart Grids Club in an interview with French newspaper La Tribune last July.

Smart city in agile mode

The main problem today is progressing from proof-of-concept (POC) testing to rolling out a solution for all. This is precisely what Nice Smart Valley hopes to change through their development of an adaptable, versatile smart business model. Nice Smart Valley inspired the naming of similar projects across Europe through Interflex, notably in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Major energy providers have come together to support this ambitious programme, including Enedis, GRDF and ENGIE who have joined forces with SCOMEC and the Métropole of Nice Côte d’Azur. As pointed out by Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice and leader of the Métropole, Nice is already viewed as one of the European leaders in this field, stating

Nice Smart Valley’s ambition and drive is what secured the city’s status as European Ambassador of Innovation at the 2018 Lisbon Web Summit”.

Of course, there’s still a lot to be done to keep the city’s enviable status as being among the top 15 Smart Cities in the world.

To read also: Vinci presents Building Beyond, a festival for the future of cities