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Publications

How are territories reinventing city living ?

How are territories reinventing city living ?

Sofrecom smart city

Amal El Fallah Seghrouchni is an expert in Artificial Intelligence, she heads  the "Multi-Agent System" group and is co-responsible of the track "Artificial Intelligence and Data Sacience"  at LIP6.

By 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in urban areas. Knowing this, how can we transform the city to make it more fulfilling for citizens, more efficient for businesses and more attractive for visitors? Many public administrations and territorial players are asking these questions. Building on advances in research at leading IT laboratories such as LIP6 in Paris, over 1,200 pilot projects for smart cities are already being rolled out around the world. When science sheds light on Smart Cities…

Why do cities want to become “smart”?

The primary objective of a Smart City is to be inclusive: to give all citizens the chance to enjoy social development through solidarity and intergenerational ties, and to embody a form of swarm intelligence that serves social well-being.

In the literature on smart cities, this objective plays out in six dimensions:

  • A smart economy, which makes the city competitive;
  • Smart citizens, who cooperate and are active players in their cities;
  • Smart governance, which offers users services suited to their needs, and which they can help develop;
  • Smart mobility, which reduces the environmental footprint and makes life easier for citizens;
  • A smart environment, which gives priority to energy efficiency, preserves natural resources and finds new uses for waste;
  • A smart way of life, with urban forms and housing that guarantee comfort and safety.

Recent international events such as the Fukushima tsunami (2011) and terrorist attacks, as well as changing uses, have prompted new questions in scientists’ thinking on smart cities: resilience, i.e. the ability of cities to adapt to sudden unexpected events; safety; customized adaptable smart services and citizen platforms for sharing or bartering.

What are the conditions for digital services that contribute to socio-economic development in smart cities?

Digital services must meet five citizen requirements: reliability, efficiency, security, transparency and ethics (e.g. data protection, respect for privacy, absence of manipulation), an area generally governed by laws. It is all the more important that these requirements be met, as new technologies and digital services address almost all areas of urban activity and are transforming them to the core: democracy, the economy, education, employment, infrastructure, transport, housing, energy, the environment, security, quality of living, etc.

Below are some examples of smart initiatives integrating these criteria: public services based on interoperable platforms that make life easier for citizens and make them active players. Opening up a city's data to external players to stimulate creativity and the development of innovative models. An e-voting solution that guarantees the confidentiality and reliability or accuracy of the poll. Calling upon Artificial Intelligence (AI) to personalize services (targeting assistance for better social inclusion...); the Internet of Things to facilitate traffic flow, parking, waste collection; and the analysis of urban area traffic data to light streets according to needs. The creation of inter-generational alliances (e.g. children in daycare and the elderly) to maintain and foster social ties. These are all needs-driven initiatives that contribute to cost reduction, risk management, energy efficiency, social inclusion and innovation.

What research work are you carrying out on the smart city?

The team which I run works on Multi-Agent Systems (SMA). We create cohabitation and collaboration situations, and place large numbers of intelligent agents in them, each representing a different type of profiles, decision or response, to model the collective behaviors of these heterogeneous and complex systems. We are working on this for multiple industrial players. For example, through a Single Interministerial Fund (FUI) mechanism run by Thales and funded by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, we have used agents to model, simulate and animate districts in cities such as Paris where thousands of players – pedestrians, buses, bicycles, cars, red lights – now interact.

My personal research focuses on designing smart and autonomous systems to serve collective social well-being: how to bring the smart city closer to the citizen through personal and empathetic intelligent agents? I work designing sophisticated cognitive agents, able to interact effectively with individuals to make their lives easier, like a “digital twin” or a “digital guardian angel”. Ultimately, I want to populate smart cities with these smart agents by making them interact with each other to deliver services with greater added value.

How are universities helping to inform politicians about smart cities?

In addition to the industrial chairs that mobilize us for long-term research, we respond to calls for projects issued in Europe by the European Research Council (ERC) and in France by the National Research Agency (ANR), the Directorate General for the Armies (DGA), the Commissariat General for Investment (CGI), the Carnot Institutes, the FUI, etc. They target disciplines related to intelligent cities and innovation carriers: network virtualization, Cloud storage, IT security, personal data protection, use of user-centric data, resilience, the Internet of Things, interoperability of services, drones, “situated” interactions, i.e. context-specific, emotional, etc. We have also taken part in government missions such as France-IA. In addition, we run joint laboratories with industrial players and conduct research or provide services to them (help with structuring data, developing a decision-making tool, designing independent learning agents, etc.).

Do the Cloud, Big Data and AI promise new advances?

Yes, of course. The convergence between these technologies is a source of innovation for citizens in various areas: in particular e-health, where the collection, storage and analysis of citizens’ medical monitoring data will enable better predictions and prevention of the occurrence of diseases; e-democracy via discussion and focus platforms enabling citizens to interact to guide political decision-making; e-commerce with increasingly secure online signature payments thanks to access to data, e-signature, etc.

How are universities preparing the future profiles needed to develop smart cities?

We put our students in contact with many companies during their time in school: Orange, Bouygues Télécom, Nokia, Apple, Google, IBM, Thales, EDF, Société Générale, etc. These companies all hire doctoral students through the CIFRE system (industrial research training agreement) so that they can work on applied research topics, under the supervision of a university researcher. As for the students in our IT Masters programs, 99% of them receive job offers often even before the end of their 2nd year internship.

How are the 1,200 Smart Cities pilot projects integrating these socio-economic inclusion objectives, which are key for States?

Smart cities are focusing on e-mobility, e-administration and the dematerialization of all their processes. However, one question remains central to the thinking going on today: how can we bring all citizens on board and prevent a digital divide from forming between connected versus non-connected users? In many countries, national education systems and NGOs are looking to familiarize children with the Internet very early on (programming, digital tables), while raising awareness about its dangers.

What are the benefits of such projects for citizens, businesses and cities? How are they transforming the city?

The smart city brings services closer to the citizen, contributing to their well-being in the everyday. It fosters unlimited sharing of digital knowledge, a source of financial rationalization for public institutions. It facilitates mobility, a major factor for economic attractiveness in urban environments.

It provides companies with appropriate, relevant, fast and efficient services, which then, as responsible players, share their data.

Cities are becoming more open, more accessible, more pleasant to live in and more attractive.

They are fostering the implementation of a political project shared between city representatives, socio-economic players and citizens who all play an active part.

In the end, the Smart City transforms the city by putting people back at the center of all technological developments, in accordance with the European Union’s priority objective.

What are the benefits of such projects for citizens, businesses and cities? How are they transforming the city?

The smart city brings services closer to the citizen, contributing to their well-being in the everyday. It fosters unlimited sharing of digital knowledge, a source of financial rationalization for public institutions. It facilitates mobility, a major factor for economic attractiveness in urban environments.

It provides companies with appropriate, relevant, fast and efficient services, which then, as responsible players, share their data.

Cities are becoming more open, more accessible, more pleasant to live in and more attractive.

They are fostering the implementation of a political project shared between city representatives, socio-economic players and citizens who all play an active part.

In the end, the Smart City transforms the city by putting people back at the center of all technological developments, in accordance with the European Union’s priority objective.

LIP6

With 500 researchers and PhD students, the Sorbonne University-CNRS joint research unit is one of the largest IT laboratories in France. Its cutting-edge teams cover a wide range of IT disciplines, and several of them work on all aspects of Smart Cities:

  • Scientific calculation
  • Smart systems (multi-agent systems, collective decision-making, planning, etc.) and operational research (logistics systems, traffic optimization)
  • Data and Machine Learning (artificial learning)
  • Networks and systems
  • Systems embedded on chips
  • IT security

Industrial chairs hosted at LIP6

  • The connected car, with the involvement of Atos and Renault
  • Cryptology as a computer security technique
  • IT environments for human learning