How does the smart and connected city work?

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Sensors and connected objects

Smart and connected cities are built in stages. First they need sensors and connected objects, such as street furniture, lighting columns, automatic bollards, charge points and electronic information panels, which are all linked up to the power grid. These form the city’s sensory apparatus, detecting events and harvesting data that is relevant to quality of life and the condition of equipment and infrastructure. Sensors can also be fitted to buses so that they can communicate with traffic lights, and to lighting columns so that they can identify free car parking spaces or measure the temperature or pollution levels. This equipment must then be connected to a series of networks: e.g. a fibre optic loop, such as that developed by Axione, a subsidiary of Bouygues Energies & Services, a radiocommunications network and, most importantly, to the power grid serving the street lighting system, which, when combined with Citybox® units, becomes a broadband digital network. All of these networks form the main highways that will carry the flow of data. They connect all of the city’s  infrastructure, equipment and services.


The resulting operational and environmental data is then harvested and sent in real time to a single platform. Using rules engines and other procedures, municipal teams are then able to make around-the-clock decisions, reacting to events as they unfold, and adapting the city’s services to the needs of its inhabitants.

The city's memory bank

This platform also acts as the city’s memory, where all useful information is stored (related to property assets, the timeline of events, etc.). This information is available to the public and entrepreneurs as a means of encouraging the development of new services, based on the Open Data principle.

The creation of new services

The harvested data and the involvement of all stakeholders enable new services to be created and existing services to become intelligent: e.g. smart car parking, a multiservices electrical network, city-wide Wifi, one-off events. A new business model is emerging in which savings and performance gains help to finance new developments.

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