Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 creates lots of challenges for the city of Paris, but it also presents an amazing opportunity for it to begin a transformation and earn the sought-after title of ‘Smart City’. In fact, a Smart City approach formed the basis of the bid presented by Anne Hidalgo to the IOC. It won’t just benefit the games themselves either, as widespread use of smart technologies will help to improve the lives of two million residents and over 30 million tourists that visit every year.
Many outside of Paris will hope that this inspire and bolsters funding for other smart city projects across France.
With 15,000 athletes, 20,000 journalists and millions of spectators coming from around the world, crowd management is one of the key challenges in hosting an Olympic Games, whether it’s in the city, in the Olympic Village, or at sporting venues.
Several start-ups are working on smart building projects, creating structures that will be able to evolve in real-time according to present needs. For example, to avoid congestion, the speed that automatic doors open could be adjusted according to crowd density.
Similarly, solutions can be used to analyse traffic flows and monitor numbers of trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians in real-time, in order to plan ahead to control crowds, or geolocate users in the event of an emergency and intervene as accurately and efficiently as possible.
Proximity marketing will channel and redirect spectators via push notifications sent to users’ smartphones. Real-time queue times for toilets, or flash deals in certain shops and food outlets could be used to smooth out traffic flows at sports facilities. Similarly, this system could help control crowds leaving stadiums to regulate passenger density on public transport.
Smart Cities: Wi-Fi is a Key Challenge for Urban Attractiveness
Smart Cities are aiming to reshape urban landscapes to put people back at the core of the city. Innovative use of data can help pioneer new services which have the potential to fundamentally change the way people live and travel.
In this e-book, we look at the profound transformation that cities have embarked on, and how Wi-Fi is a key element of their success.
Public transport services will be crucial to the success of the Olympic Games as none of the Olympic sites will be accessible by car. Paris’ public transport system is widely criticised for the poor user experience due to high passenger numbers, frequent breakdowns and failures, and problems with RER line B, which links up Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport and the city centre.
However, even with planned Metro upgrades and new cycle lanes, many journeys will still require ‘multimodality’, switching from one mode of transport to another.
For this to work smoothly the use of new technologies will be required. By combining data gathered from organisations, citizens and companies, some solutions provide the innovation needed to enhance mobility in city centres, while remaining small enough to fit in your pocket.
The app ZenBus, deployed in two French towns (Issy-les-Moulineaux and Nantes), enables users to geolocate buses in real-time on their smartphones. The app’s model is based on information sharing similar to Waze: drivers simply display the positions of buses and share them with users.
This system could be widely applied and used by major cities to create connected transport, to control traffic and avoid two buses following each other on the same journey and increasing the waiting time for the next bus.
Big data can be used to go even further: some European cities, such as Santander in Spain, a pioneering smart city in Europe, use connected objects enhanced with artificial intelligence to optimise handling of road accidents.
Connected vehicles can immediately communicate the medical data of people involved in accidents to the city’s departments, for example to perform emergency blood transfusions when required, or speed up journey times to hospitals by turning on green lights as ambulances approach. The communication of this data is made possible by the interaction of connected objects that cover all the smart city’s activities, from transport to logistics, health and B2C.
One of the most frustrating aspects of driving in a city is finding a parking space when you reach your destination. With smart cities come smart parking: innovative connected solutions to facilitate and optimise parking in cities where demand is high.
AppyParking, for example, notifies users of free parking spaces around them in real-time. This ingenious approach stems from the new generation of car parks that integrate an empty space counter in each row to ease traffic flows.
Similarly, applications such as PayByPhone are transforming the relationship between drivers and parking. You no longer need to stick a ticket under the windscreen, try three ticket machines before finding one that works, or keep an eye on the time: the app sends an SMS alert before the time is up and enables users to top up parking remotely.
Wi-Fi Is Key to The Success of Smart Cities
Wi-Fi has an essential role to play within smart cities as the effectiveness of many technologies is limited by accessibility to the mobile network which is very restricted in metro stations, underground car parks, and other urban areas with poor network coverage. Wi-Fi ensures the reliability of connected services and keeps a Smart City running.
Public Wi-Fi connections already form the main channel for serving the public with important information, and products like UCOPIA will help cities to collect and easily visualise data to discover new insights to optimise operations and services.