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The Future of Nice: Networked, Hyper-Connected, and Extremely Smart

What will the ideal city of the future look like?

Urban policymakers around the world are striving to answer this question, while positioning their citizens to compete and thrive in a time of accelerated innovation and change. Many are seeking the best possible convergence of technology and infrastructure within the urban environment. But the overall goal is to enhance the success, livability, and overall appeal of their cities.

Nice, France’s fifth-largest metropolis, took its own leap into the future on June 7, when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Cisco to transform the city into a living laboratory for a smart, next-generation, connected city. The signing took place as the city hosted this year’s “Innovative City Convention,” sponsored by Cisco, and it included Robert Vassoyan, Cisco France’s general manager, and Christain Estrosi, the mayor of Nice and the chairman of Nice Côte d’Azur Metropole, an area encompassing 47 surrounding municipalities.

As part of the agreement, Cisco is committed to using the network in every way possible to improve the quality of life for Nice’s citizens, simplifying their work and leisure time while creating a safe, competitive, and ecologically protected environment. Cisco’s holistic approach will encompass a wide swath of public issues and areas, including safety, health, education, mobility, environmental concerns, water and energy utilities, and sustainable development.

As the director for innovation in the public sector for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), I will be leading the effort, together with Philippe Olmos, Cisco France’s public sector account manager. I believe that the signing of the MOU is an extremely important milestone for both Cisco and Nice, and I am very confident in our capability to turn the initiative into real business. We are at the beginning of the story, but working directly with the mayor we will designate the right people to begin implementing projects and pilots within the next 12 months.

The result will be a city bristling with networks of smart sensors linked to intelligent, Big Data analytics systems capable of gleaning crucial, real-time insights from almost anywhere in the vast scope of city life.

Here is just a small sampling of what we envision for the future of Nice:

  • Smart and connected, Nice will drive growth through job creation in innovative industries, while bold new services will enhance workplace, health, and educational conditions. Such innovation will stimulate the “virtuous circle” of urban appeal and economic growth, drawing investments and visitors.
  • Nice’s hyper-connected populace will enjoy an unprecedented level of collaboration, between students and teachers; government and citizens; and companies and consumers. Communication between healthcare providers and beneficiaries will greatly improve the efficiency of diagnostics and treatment, improving health and lifestyle independence.
  • Mobile devices will empower consumers with digital payments and access to massive amounts of information about all the city has to offer: theater, sports, concert events, shopping, and much, much more.
  • Citizens will be alerted about important water and air quality issues, as well as the threat of flash floods or forest fires.
  • Drivers will have access to constant updates about traffic, road conditions, and parking — saving time, increasing safety, and lessening stress.

Mayor Estrosi has already facilitated the creation of the Eco-Vallée, a 10,000-hectare zone adjacent to Nice’s main airport reserved for high-tech development. And he has been outspoken in his enthusiasm for the partnership with Cisco, viewing the collaboration as a cornerstone to Nice’s overall strategy of innovation and competitiveness.

I agree. The partnership between Cisco and Nice will only be limited by the horizon of our imaginations.

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