[SMART CITY FOCUS] Dijon, France’s first smart city

The smart city is undoubtedly one of the most visible facets of the development of the Internet of Things. The integration of new technologies into all the city’s infrastructure should allow the optimization of the management processes and its various aspects. There are many projects all over the world, but Europe is still lagging behind compared to, for example, Asia. In France, however, several cities are seeking to integrate these intelligent technologies. Among them, Dijon promises to be one of the most ambitious, and most advanced at the moment.

Progress already made

The Dijon metropolis, which includes 24 municipalities and 256,000 inhabitants, has already implemented several solutions to make itself a place among French smart cities. Under  President François Rebsamen, street lighting is now intelligent since it adapts its brightness according to the time of day and the number of pedestrians on the street. The traffic lights are also connected, thanks to Keolis, to give priority to buses and thus improve the fluidity of their journeys. Also in the transport sector, the metropolis has equipped 400 of its company cars with a geolocation system. In addition, the city center of Dijon has been equipped with remotely operable bollards to limit access to certain vehicles only, in order to protect older neighborhoods. Finally, Suez has already installed water meters with a warning system for elderly volunteers: if no tap is open within several hours, a notification is sent to relatives.

A unique control station

But the metropolis of Dijon does not intend to stop there. It launched a call for tenders, the results of which were announced in early September 2017. With a budget of 105 million euros, the smart city project will be managed by Bouygues and Citelum, an EDF subsidiary, and will work in collaboration with Cap Gemini on the software side. The objective is clear: to make Dijon the first smart city in France, or even in Europe, as François Rebsamen points out, and as Martin Bouygues confirms:»Up to now, this type of initiative has only concerned neighborhoods or areas. We are going to make the first French smart city.

To achieve this, the city aims at creating a single control center, which should be operational by the end of 2018, and which will replace the 6 sectoral posts currently in place: the security control center, the municipal police center, the urban supervision center, the traffic control center, the Allô Mairie e-government service and the snow control center. This centralized control station will make it possible to manage the various departments of the city, such as police, roads and waste collection, and assign them tasks in real time. To do so, it will collect and analyze the data collected through thousands of sensors, cameras or geolocated vehicles. All these connected objects, scattered throughout Dijon and its surroundings, will provide a mass of information that will enable optimized decision-making: traffic conditions, air quality, accidents, available parking spaces, fires, demonstrations, etc.

New equipment

In addition to this unique control post, the town hall will renovate part of the municipal equipment. 34,000 street lamps (93% of the existing total) will be replaced by more energy-efficient LED versions. In the long term, this project should lead to 65% energy savings. In addition, 269 cameras will be changed. In order to modernize the city’s infrastructure, 140 km of optic fiber will be deployed to connect the different points of the network, but also to provide very high-speed Internet to the inhabitants of the 24 communes within four years. The sensors that will be installed in the city to collect data will operate on the LoRa network, a low-speed, long-range protocol particularly suited to the Internet of Things. With this contract, concluded for a period of 12 years, 45 direct jobs are expected to be created, half of them on site.

Open Data and involvement of the inhabitants

In order for the system to be of real benefit to the inhabitants of the metropolis, a smartphone application will be made available to them. For example, it will make it possible to receive traffic information in real time, to report an accident or to easily find a free parking space. The president of the metropolis assures that ‘the inhabitants will gain in security and speed for their travels, and will be able to access in a simplified way all their procedures with the public services’. Citizens are therefore called upon to generate relevant data, but will in turn get a service to assist them on a daily basis.

In addition, the data policy is clear, since the town hall has opted Open Data, meaning the provision of all the data, after anonymization. Third-party companies will therefore be able to use it to develop new services, even if the small number of inhabitants makes it impossible to believe in a real new economy. In any case, Dijon wants to create specific places, such as incubators or fab labs, to encourage innovation. Christophe Bonnard, CEO of Cap Gemini, says that ‘never has a city ever thought of securing the fact that it will retain ownership of its data and has taken a position so clear that it will operate in open data’.


The Dijon metropolis therefore has the ambition to become the first smart city in France, and has allocated a substantial budget to achieve this goal. By surrounding itself with recognized actors, she demonstrates a real motivation to implement a set of connected solutions. The whole city is thus on the way to becoming a huge laboratory for new technologies, whose stated goal is to optimize processes and the management of resources – human, energetic or financial – .

However, it is important to ensure that the privacy of residents is guaranteed, the risk being to give them the feeling that they are constantly being watched by sensors scattered throughout the city. Security must also be ensured in order not to see the equipment fall into the hands of attackers, who could then cause major damage given the criticality of the installations controlled by these computer systems. This security is provided by Cap Gemini, whose director says:”we rely on open source technologies for our software and we are particularly vigilant on cybersecurity issues, both physical and logical.’ If the decisions are mainly automated, operator control will be possible at any time. It also states that in the event of a serious accident,”continuity of services and data security will be ensured by a first-aid post which can take over from the control center’. Let us hope that these measures will be sufficient.