How Paris will take advantage of the Olympics 2024 to become a smart city

Congestion, crowd management, sustainable development, transportation … the smart city will help the capital to better manage the Olympic Games in 2024 and fulfill the green goals it has set.

For a long time the suspense had dissipated, but it is now confirmed: Paris will host the Olympic Games. Its only competitor, Los Angeles, accepted at the end of July the principle of a dual award, which guarantees the French capital the Games of 2024 and the Californian city those of 2028. A session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) organized in Lima (Peru) on September 13 validated these two candidacies in the evening, officially making Paris the host city of the 2024 Olympic Games.

Now place the preparation of the Olympics. And for this edition, it will not only be about building new equipment and infrastructures. Paris has put technology and the smart city at the heart of its bid project. The various solutions envisaged must make it possible to mitigate the inconveniences caused by the holding of the Games, to ensure a better management of the crowds or to reach the objectives of sustainable development fixed during the candidature.


Innovate to stand out

Paris, however, was not obliged to submit an innovation plan to the IOC, which did not ask the candidate cities anything about it. “But we knew that in front of Los Angeles would be strong in innovation thanks to the Silicon Valley players,” recalls Jérôme Lachaze, director of sustainable development at the bid committee Paris 2024. So it was decided to launch in 2016 a call for innovation, asking start-ups to propose their solutions to certain challenges posed by the organization of the Games.

“It was also a way to value everything that has been done in recent years to support start-ups in France and Paris, and we said that innovation was an interesting subject to show that Paris is not only the city of light, “says Nicolas Ledoux, a partner in the consulting firm Algoé, who piloted the call for innovation. More than 200 startups have applied. They were separated by a jury composed of members of the bid committee and the 15 partners of the Olympic Games. These major groups such as Bouygues Construction, RATP, Orange and Engie have each sent a person in charge of innovation to help the bid committee define the main themes of the call for innovation: “smart sport”, “smart experience” , “smart city”, “smart mobility” and “smart event”.

Connected emergencies

Among the elected representatives, Placemeter has become a “smart city” category. “This start-up responds to a big challenge of the bid: demonstrate how we solve the issue of congestion generated by the Games,” recognizes Nicolas Ledoux. The computer vision technology developed by Placemeter counts and differentiates cars, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians and trucks. The analysis of these data makes it possible to estimate and anticipate the flows of people, as well as to test the influence of adjustments of the public space on these movements. Nicolas Ledoux points out that current flow estimation models are inconclusive and often fail to anticipate the sometimes irrational behavior of crowds. “On a smaller scale, we could also use it to qualify the performance of a refreshment bar and move it if it is badly located,” he adds.

Another crowd management solution selected is the application of Urgentix digital emergency calls. It calls the help while geolocating immediately the user, before offering to film what he sees, allowing to better estimate the amount of staff to send on site. “The testimony of a panicked person is not always reliable, it is a very valuable tool”, justifies Nicolas Ledoux.

The personal car banned

Navya and its autonomous electric shuttles have established themselves in the “smart mobility” category. The French start-up did not just offer one of its traditional models. “The idea is to get them to move their shuttles to a kind of hybrid between taxi and public transport,” explains Nicolas Ledoux. Their role would be to transport the athletes to the Olympic Village on demand, with voice commands to stop the shuttle to go anywhere on the site, then tell him where to go.

The smart city will also help Paris to achieve the sustainable development goals it has set itself, including organizing positive environmental impact games. “We want to use the Olympics to initiate an ecological transition”, summarizes Jérôme Lachaze. In terms of transport, the hunt for the personal vehicle is open: it will be impossible to use one to go to the Olympics, since no parking space will be provided for this purpose, except for athletes and accredited persons, who will move in clean vehicles provided by the Toyota partner. To facilitate travel without a car, public transport tickets will be included in the tickets to attend a competition. The Paris City Council’s Cycling Plan also serves these objectives: it plans to build new bike paths connecting the Stade de France and the Aquatic Center (Saint-Denis) to the Olympic Village (Paris) and 10,000 additional bike parking spaces.

Collaboration with major groups

With regard to energy and water, discussions are underway with Caisse des Dépôts to integrate smart water management systems as well as smart grids to reduce consumption, losses, and of course the bill. Engie is working on an energy loop between the Stade de France and the Aquatic Center which will be built just opposite, in Saint-Denis. Equipped with solar panels, the stadium could provide electricity to the aquatic center, which “would get out of this building status that serves only 12 times a year giving it an energy utility,” rejoices Jerome Lachaze.

Now that Paris is officially designated, the technological solutions put forward during the bid, and the companies chosen to set them up, will be the subject of calls for tender, which should take place from 2021, after the establishment of the needs and specifications in 2018-2019. By including strong needs in terms of innovation and smart city to these specifications, Paris will be able to ensure that start-ups will have access to public markets. Already, some large partner groups, such as Orange or Accor Hotels, have started working with start-ups identified during the call for innovation, to include their products in their responses to calls for tender.