21 October 2022

The first French Geographical Chapter Meeting took place on September 27 and gathered the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) cities of Aix-en-Provence, Paris Saclay Agglomeration Community, Métropole Européenne de Lille and Le Havre Seine Métropole. The meeting also welcomed several representatives from Technopolis Group and Capgemini.

The meeting was introduced by Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW, European Commission). She insisted on the importance of the dual transition, the numerous funding opportunities available with the Recovery and Resilience Facility and made a call to the cities for feedback on the ICC programme.

The four French cities presented the specific projects they are working on within ICC and outlined how their city benefited from the programme. The collaboration aspect of the programme was praised, and a special attention was given to the value of the Lead Experts, especially related to the methodological aspects of the projects, and the unique opportunity to work with other cities, particularly through the mentoring programme.

After these presentations, discussions were led around different topics, first about the governance of the smart city strategy, and about data storage, management, and open data systems.

Governance of the smart city strategy / digital transition

During this part of the meeting, the discussion turned around the practical subject of where to position the core team of a smart city strategy within the cities’ organisation. According to the cities, there is no best practices because it all depends on the budget available and the size of the city. They concluded their discussion by saying the team can be dispatched across several departments or can be developed within a cross-functionality team like seen in Paris Saclay. An important note was made on the shift that can happened with different elected officials. Indeed, with such change, priorities and organisations also changes meaning consistency with internal organisation can be a challenge.

The value of creating connections through networks or groups of entrepreneurs to improve the work was also emphasised by cities.

Data storage and management / open data

The ICC city of Paris Saclay presented MaMob, a digital solution to quantify the mobility practices of targeted groups of people to build a roadmap for mobility. After this interesting presentation, questions were asked around the partnership the city have with Weever (Weever is a start-up collaborating on the project) and the legal aspects which had to be checked to ensure the sustainability of the service.

The discussion then focused on open data where Lille Métropole shared its experience. The city noticed its open data strategy was failing as no one was using the available data. After some investigation by the city, it became clear that the business departments (the owners of the data) did not systematically make the data available for everyone. Upon this, they raised awareness on this aspect and now the sharing of data has considerably improved.

Next steps

In conclusion, this meeting revealed several common subjects of interest within the four French cities, even though they chose different thematic tracks. The cities are eager to start their collaboration of the subjects of governance of the smart city strategy and data governance.