Sustainability the smart way

Albert Seubers

Atos Director, Global Strategy Smart X

The cleanliness of our streets is central to our day-to-day experience in cities — and an important factor in attracting visitors and maintaining a positive image. So, what makes a city clean? Creating and maintaining clean spaces requires a partnership between city services and citizens; and sharing data within communities can make this partnership more effective.

Informed choices

Today’s clean cities promote a healthy environment with good air quality and no litter. Air quality is highly impacted by traffic and, in some cases, by household heating systems.

With the right information at our fingertips, we can participate in looking after that environment by adjusting our daily routines — for example, by using data to make more informed decisions about how and when we travel, or about how we can save on energy to lower our city’s carbon footprint.

Transitioning energy

Energy transition is one important element in creating a cleaner and healthier city. This means reducing levels of pollution from carbon-based energy sources and changing to renewable sources where possible. Energy transition requires not only available and accessible new energy sources, but also a change in the mindset of citizens to use alternative energy sources and reduce energy use. Communities of citizens already exist in many cities to invest in renewable energy systems and to buy energy collectively. In parallel, smart meters that provide real-time feedback on energy consumption help citizens to understand the impacts of their consumption.

Increasing sustainability

The City of Grenoble launched a large-scale smart grid between the historic city and the science campus to develop sustainable living solutions. Initially, 500 next-generation smart meters were installed to provide information to raise awareness and inform the public. By making this information accessible while respecting the privacy of individuals and protecting their data, the project will enable everyone in the city to become more involved and aware.

With air quality already under threat in some places, travel needs to be reduced (especially at peak times) along with switching to more sustainable forms of mobility. Many cities are making the switch to electric or hybrid vehicles, and public transport is also becoming greener.

Holistic approaches

Data is a powerful weapon against the more visible pollution caused by litter. Sensors that indicate a bin is full create data that enables waste collection services to optimize routes and reduce mileage. However, these services need a contractual incentive to do so. Additional benefits can be realized if trucks only drive at times when they have the least impact on traffic levels, making the contract beneficial for both the city and the contracted partner.

At the same time, using the data on whether or not bins are full creates a whole new element of servicing. If people can check in advance whether a bin is full, it enhances the citizen experience while preventing people from leaving rubbish next to full bins. In turn, if citizens have this information, there can be tighter enforcement and penalties for those who leave their rubbish next to a full bin.

Holistic approaches like these can be applied to every facet of city life which connects citizens, devices and services. Through these connections, cities can foster a sense of pride and community that empowers and motivates citizens to take responsibility for ensuring that their city is clean.


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