Should a Smart City be a pioneer to be recognized?

All Smart Cities claim to be the pioneer, the first. Taken at random from publications, there are many examples:

– « La Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur, classée comme smart city pionnière » (Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis ranked as smart city pioneer)

– « Lyon, pionnière de la smart city » (Lyon, pioneer of the smart city)

– “Singapore is striving to be the first” smart city “in the world”

– “Songdo, South Korea: the world’s first smart city”

– “How London became the first smart city back in 1854”

– “Adelaide’s path to world-first Smart City”

All this meets the objective of political communication, the desire to position oneself as an innovator with the local voter, to sell particular efforts made to bring some response to local problems, or to attract economic actors.

But is this communication well adapted?

My aim is not to call into question the need for this type of message nor the need to promote the growing use of new technologies among citizens; it is rather to question the limit beyond which this communication becomes ineffective.

The citizen does not think in terms of optimization, technology or concept. He assesses the evolution of his life experience in the city. Is parking or moving through the city easier? Is the air more breathable? Does he feel safer in the city? Does he get more services, which he can access more easily? Is housing more accessible? Does his living environment improve? Does his city become more human?

The fact that the city shares its communication or data management infrastructure is of little importance. The fact that, as a consequence, thanks to the savings made, the city develops more quickly services is very important to him.

The fact that the city chooses a particular technology or engages in such and such a partnership is secondary to the citizen; the fact that the service offered is steadily improving and lasting is important to him and to all economic players as well.

Wanting to be the first Smart City, the biggest, the most technological, perhaps means for the current leaders what the construction of Versailles or of Tsarskoye Selo meant a few centuries ago.

Unfortunately, the excess and majesty are less visible when it comes to technology. Unfortunately, too, unlike the large emblematic buildings of the past, the technology is misleading because it allows a facade majesty. These characteristics are risks for politicians: if the city in which citizens live or work is not more pleasant to live or more welcoming, catchy slogans will then be able to turn against those who have ostensibly disseminated them.

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