EIT ICT Labs: From smart cities to smart citizens? | European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)

EIT ICT Labs: From smart cities to smart citizens?

On December 18, 2014 EIT ICT Labs organised a full day to present some of their results around Urban Life and Mobility innovation area. The event took place in Orange premises near Paris. 136 professionals gathered from France and other European countries to attend the meeting.

The objective of the day was to present EIT ICT Labs through some disruptive activities in Urban Life and Mobility (1 of the 8 EIT ICT Labs innovation areas). The attendees were EIT ICT Labs partners from global companies (e.g. Orange, Thales), research centres (e.g. INRIA, CEA, Cefriel), universities (e.g. Université Pierre & Marie Curie, Politecnico di Milano), clusters (e.g. Cap Digital, Systematic), coached start-ups and students. There were also stakeholders from town councils and think tanks. They were all eager to know how to better work together at a European level.

The day was a mix of 6 keynotes, 6 start-ups pitches, 3 partners activities panels and 7 demos so as to cover the wide scope of EIT ICT Labs (see programme).

As an introduction, Nicolas Bry, Sr VP Innovation at Orange Vallée, reminded the need to innovate fast today and the best ways to do it (see slides and video).

If being a pivot enterprise is one of these ways, this is exactly how EIT ICT Labs stands by cooperating, connecting and creating innovation with its European wide ecosystem (more than 120 partners).

Roberto Saracco, Trento Node Director at EIT ICT Labs, gave a vibrant keynote about smart cities (see slides and video). According to him, "we are now at the very starting point of the merging of atoms and bits", reshaping and customising the cities with our own eyes, our own interests and those of our friends. For 2 different persons, this will result in not seeing the same city the same way.

"This time, we will not have Eiffel tower as a legacy at the Universal Expo, but we will have digital."

This is exactly the value proposal of the 3cixty platform activity, providing citizens instantaneous access to rich and integrated city information. This will be tested live soon in Milano during Expo 2015. Same for Guide me right, awarded start-up at Idea Challenge 2014, which offers a disruptive way to visit and see a city by connecting tourists and local people, instead of tour operators.

"Houses make the town, but citizens make the city." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Gilles Bétis, Urban Life and Mobility Action Line Leader at EIT ICT Labs, went a step further by saying that we had better talk now about smart citizens rather than smart cities (see slides and video). "We come in an empowerment era where people want to play, participate and hack the city. As technology providers, we need to give them the tools, support, coaching and infrastructures to do so".

This could be illustrated, for example, by another activity, Flashpoll, which makes it easier and more relevant for people, and citizens in particular, to give their opinions at the right place and the right time, through mobile devices. This was also illustrated by the taxi-sharing platform UbiTaxi, developed by EIT ICT Labs Master School students, as a business case, so as to help traditional taxis in France compete with new companies such as Uber.

At the end of the day, all participants understood the pan European mission of EIT ICT Labs. By linking education, research and business, in an open and collaborative way, EIT ICT Labs empowers Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) top talents for the future and brings innovations to life. Such an event is part of the EIT ICT Labs strategy to connect their portfolio of activities and start-ups to business communities, as potential customers.

Photos of the event are available on EIT ICT Labs' Flickr pages and a video, "Urban Life & Mobility EIT ICT Labs Results Day 2014", can be viewed on YouTube.

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