Creating new jobs: goal or consequence of Smart Cities initiatives

Smart Cities are public initiatives. They are always initiated by mayors and their teams. Difficult to escape within these projects with the priority political objectives at the head of which is the employment.

There is no project that does not refer to the expected impacts in terms of employment, particularly as regards energy. These impacts are even, in some cases, a decisive criterion for choosing between several alternatives.

If I adhere clearly to the objective pursued, I am sceptical of some of these approaches.

The assessment of the employment consequences of Smart Cities projects is still very sensitive. Jobs directly lost because of projects are more easily quantifiable than jobs directly created, which often leads to rather defensive choices.

Fears are always expressed concerning the estimate of jobs created: either their number is deliberately underestimated to be more credible in the eyes of decision-makers, stressed and chilly because of the current crisis, or their number is set in a balanced or optimistic way and they are received and considered with suspicion.

Much more complex is the evaluation of jobs that are indirectly destroyed or created. Studies that dare to integrate them into their scope are rarer; in all cases, the proposed approaches seem incomplete as the consequences in terms of employment can be the result of a cascade of successive repercussions or the result of systemic effects that are difficult to model.

The few serious academic studies that have attempted to quantify the effects of energy transitions toward “greener” energy mixes or the effects of energy efficiency programs, such as the one deployed in Geneva for nearly 8 years, all show the very positive effects of these projects on gross domestic product and on employment. Such consequences were often neither intended nor expected at the launch of these initiatives; they are nevertheless at the rendezvous. These studies therefore provide a different kind of reasoning.

From my point of view, these results argue for less analytical and more entrepreneurial approaches to Smart Cities project files. Perhaps it is more important to focus the energies on the quality and innovation of the solutions deployed? Probably, as in the studied cases, the impacts on the economy and on employment will once again be positive.

To do so, to consider job creation as a consequence of a successful process or project and not as a goal to be achieved, opens a new avenue for innovation, for the development of new industries and makes it more obsolete to define defensive strategies and to rely on traditional solutions

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