France’s local authorities have not yet taken mobile technology fully on board but many projects are underway and public policymakers are becoming increasingly interested.
There is no longer any doubt that companies and public organisations need to adopt mobile information and communication technologies. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits that the new ICTs can bring in terms of making an organisation more productive and helping employees to work more interactively with colleagues. At the 24th annual conference of the Coter Club, an association which promotes ICTs for local government authorities, taking place on 4 June at Saint-Etienne in south-east France, Aurélie Courtaudon, an analyst at Paris-based Markess International introduced a workshop entitled Mobilité, Mobiquité (‘Mobility, Mobiquity’), focusing on the ubiquitous use of mobile communications in the way towns are organised, from the points of view of users, citizens, and the other major stakeholder at the conference – local authorities. It seems that even though local authorities are keen to implement digital services and move towards a smart, connected city, "ways and means of adopting mobile technology still come up against organisational obstacles," she told L’Atelier.
Organisation and mobility
"Local authorities need to change. They need to stop working in silos and revise their internal mechanisms," argued Courtaudon. In fact 50% of all local authorities contributing to a survey entitled ‘L’Evolution du poste de travail à l’ère de la mobilité’ (How the workplace is changing in the mobile era), which Markess is just finalising, stated that at the present moment they are prioritising the implementation of online payment services plus apps designed to provide better services for citizens, such as support for geolocation of public services. This digitisation initiative is part of the civic approach to smart cities where, first and foremost, services must respond to the needs of user-citizens.
‘Mobiquity’, watchword of the smart city
The concept of ‘mobiquity’ – instantaneous access to Internet from anywhere and everywhere on whatever type of device – must be central to local authority thinking if they want to drive their towns and cities towards the future, argues Courtandon, pointing out that: “There are no longer any technological constraints apart from the need to install high-speed broadband infrastructure. We already have the technical tools we need.” Silo organisations nevertheless do tend to put the brakes on use of mobile ICTs. Echoing the words of Carlos Moreno, a scientific adviser who told L’Atelier recently that “the city of the future should be designed for and by its inhabitants,”Aurélie Courtandon concludes: "We should be making technology choices with all stakeholders in mind.”