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Initiative on Smart Cities & Mobility

The smart city vision raises the prospect that cities will become more sustainable environments, ultimately enhancing the citizens’ well being. There is the additional promise of enabling radically new ways of living in, regulating, operating and managing cities, through the increasing active involvement of citizens by ways of crowdsourcing/sensing and social networking.

From the more technical perspective, smart cities are fascinating, yet challenging systems of systems for the digital science and technologies due to the key characteristics of connected cities and especially their scale. Moreover, the vision of what smart cities should be about is evolving at a fast pace in close concert with the latest technology trends and especially mobile social networking, the IoT, open data as well as big data.

Inria with CITRIS and its partners at University of California Berkeley have engaged into research collaboration on smart cities, leveraging their related initiatives in the area among which the CityLab@Inria Project Lab – – under creation at Inria and the CITRIS core initiatives on “Data and Democracy” and “Intelligent Infrastructure”.

The overall objective is to develop novel systems to improve urban life and mobility by integrating sensors, social media and citizen engagement. These will ultimately result into solutions that create actionable intelligence for policymakers, entrepreneurs and advocacy organizations. Collaboration has so far been focused on 3 research themes.

  • Future Trends in Urban Mobility UrbanCivics:

    Attention is urgently needed in traffic management to alleviate the congestion that leads to negative effects on economy and health. Active collaboration on that topic is ongoing as part of the Associate Teams COMFORT and ORESTE and in cooperation with ITS – The Institute of Transportation Studies – at University of California Berkeley.

  • Democratizing Urban Data

The unprecedented democratization of urban data fueled by open data channels, social networks and crowd sourcing enables not only the monitoring of the activities of the city but also the assessment of their nuisances based on their impact on the citizens, thereby prompting social and political actions. However, the comprehensive integration of urban data sources for the purpose of sustainability remains largely unexplored.

UrbanCivics studies urban data systems allowing the collection and further aggregation of heterogeneous urban data sources toward understanding but also prompting solutions to urban nuisance. In a first attempt, UrbanCivics concentrates on noise pollution that is a major nuisance in our modern cities with health effects becoming a growing concern.

In addition, UrbanCivics brings to citizens the Sense2Civics Quantified-Self apps, so that citizens contribute to and get knowledge about urban pollution, including the impact on their health. The first app of the family, SoundCity, is to be released in 2015 with a focus on Paris and the San Francisco Bay area.

  • AppCivist: Engaging Citizens

AppCivist joins forces of CityLab@Inria and the Social Apps Lab – – at CITRIS at University of California Berkeley.

AppCivist seeks to build a middleware platform for democratic assembly and collective action that lets users (and especially social activists) make their own applications, called Assemblies, with modular components. The components support a wide range of civic engagement practices such as proposal making, deliberation, versioning, voting, alerting, networking, and mapping. When assembled, they help people engage issues and places in their city.