All posts by Nora Guelton

#RFID in industry: where are we at?

Econocmo 26 Jul 2016

RFID technology has been used in manufacturing for several years now. One of the pioneers in this field, sports retailer Decathlon, was behind one of the biggest deployments in the world. But there have been a number of other cases in the aeronautical, food and automotive industries.

 

So why implement RFID? How has it been used in industry? What are the rival technologies? How far ahead is France compared with other countries? We spoke to Jean-Christophe Lecosse, Managing Director of the CNRFID.

 

The Centre national de référence RFID (CNRFID) (national centre for RFID reference) was set up in 2008 at the initiative of the French government’s Directorate general for enterprises (DGE). It’s in charge of promoting the deployment of contactless technologies (RFID and NFC), developing their use and implementing nationwide initiatives.

 

What exactly does the CNRFID do?

 

We work with all the players in the contactless technology ecosystem, from chip manufacturers and integrators to users of the solutions. Where the providers are concerned, our members are mainly SMBs (around 70%), whilst the users are mainly major groups such as Carrefour, L’Oréal, Renault, Airbus, Dassault, Disney, etc. We help them define their needs, identify the added value of incorporating contactless technologies into industrial processes and draft their specifications. We also work on academic research and collaborative projects.

 

For a number of years, the Centre has chaired various national and international standardisation committees for promoting open interoperable solutions. Thus, since February 2016, we’ve chaired the AFNOR/CN IoT standardisation committee.

 

And in 2015, we became involved in one of the 9 French industrial solutions as part of the government’s “Industry of the future” project for using IoT. We implemented two working groups to promote the deployment of contactless solutions in the luxury goods and energy industries.

 

In a similar spirit, the CNRFID launched  Connectwave in 2015, a platform for experimenting with IoT for professional use. Connectwave is a place where people come to experiment with and understand the issues and ways of using contactless technologies. A technological and industrial showcase, Connectwave is aimed at all the people involved in the deployment of contactless solutions (from suppliers to clients), from all industry sectors (luxury, aeronautics, retail, etc.). The different uses we demonstrate cover a range of professional challenges: maintenance, industrial processes, access to places and data, traceability, customer service, etc.

 

Professional Connected Devices will be showcased during the Connect+ Event, an event we’re organising from 6 to 9 December 2016 at the Villepinte exhibition hall near Paris. At the very heart of smart industries, this 4-day event will showcase all the technological components and solutions that can address the challenges of IoT. Connect+ Event is part of  Convergence for the Industries of the Future and will be attended by 7,000 visitors in an exhibition space of over 1,000m².

 

What are the advantages of RFID technology for industry?

 

There are so many, which makes it difficult to list them. Without going into too much technical detail, it’s important to distinguish between two types of RFID: High Frequency (HF) and Ultra-High Frequency (UHF). Let’s look at UHF: this is technology that works at long distances (several metres) that can read a large number of tags (hundreds) simultaneously, through packaging and without a direct line of sight between object and reader. Those are the main advantages of RFID. They are useful for a number of industrial processes, such as scanning the content of a parcel without opening it, for example, or even an entire pallet full of parcels. So it can be very advantageous for tracking logistics flows as it can improve and automate traceability.

 

The retail sector, for example, particularly textile products, is very advanced where RFID use is concerned: Decathlon rolled out one of the world’s biggest projects in terms of deployment. Today, most of the brand’s products and all its stores are equipped with RFID. It’s also used for anti-theft devices and for conducting fast inventories and check-outs for large volumes of goods. This example combines the three main advantages of the technology: remote reading, bulk reading, and reading through packaging without direct line of sight.

 

But RFID is also used in a number of other industry sectors: libraries and industrial laundries have been deploying it for a long time.

 

=> Also on our blog: Decathlon: a sports goods chain at the cutting edge of open innovation

 

 

What are the rival technologies?

 

When people call us to talk about RFID, the first thing we do is convince them that the technology in itself is useless! Whilst at least two of the three advantages I mentioned earlier are highlighted, very often, optical technology (barcode, QR codes, etc.) can do the same thing.

 

If an industrial player doesn’t need to identify individual products but just product families, if they already have a conveyor on which they can read products one by one, RFID won’t be much use to them, because barcodes can do the job perfectly well. Rolling out RFID is expensive and our first job is to make sure the technology has added value. Otherwise, people end up very disappointed.

 

On the whole, we don’t like to talk about rival technologies, but complementary technologies that fulfil different purposes.

 

For example: video recognition. At electronic toll booths or carparks, it’s easy to implement because it doesn’t require giving our badges to all the users. But a fake car number plate costs €20, so authentication is pretty poor.  It’s much better with an RFID tag, particularly with HF contactless technologies (like credit cards, access badges, passports, etc.). In other words, each technology has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

Is security a concern for industry?

 

Naturally. But it’s important to weigh the level of security required against the cost of implementing it. Let’s look at the example of textiles: you can have a fairly low level of security because the risk of making a fake tag to bring back a T-shirt and get a refund is practically non-existent. A passport or access badge, on the other hand, require maximum security. In each case, there are solutions with varying costs and degrees of security depending on what you need.

 

Give us some examples of deployments?

 

A lot of proofs of concept  are being conducted at the moment. In the aeronautical industry, the CNRFID launched ITGDO two years ago, a programme for digitally identifying and tracking objects in the aeronautical and aerospace industries, which has received €3.5 million in funding, and includes companies such as Airbus, Air France, Safran, Thalès, Sagem and several SMBs. The aim of the programme is to incorporate RFID in various types of objects, such as containers, raw materials (combining RFID with temperature sensors, for example) and tools. This last example is a very striking one: tools can now be tracked thanks to smart tool cabinets, which can tell who has taken a tool, when it’s due back or for maintenance, and is totally automated, with no need to scan a barcode. Around a dozen distributors worldwide sell this type of equipment and demand is growing.

 

There are a lot of niche uses emerging: managing food products, production management, etc. In the automotive industry, for example, when a certain number of car parts are on the production line, barcode technology isn’t adequate. Even more so when the car goes to the paint shop: only RFID tags can continue to be read.

 

It’s also useful in the luxury goods sector: an unsightly barcode on a perfume bottle is a problem for marketing. RFID is a way of getting round this.

 

Can we expect an RFID revolution in the near future?

 

For the past ten years or so, we’ve been expecting a sort of big bang, but that’s not going to happen. There’s no “one size fits all”: RFID technologies are gradually being used to address specific issues but, as every process has different parameters (speed of scanning, type of packaging, material and shape of the objects, quantity, etc.), the technology can’t be adapted to everything. That’s the reason the CNRFID was set up, to provide assistance and advice in this area.

 

You also have to be aware that the devil is in the detail.  All it takes is for one of the parameters to change and technology that has already been deployed becomes even more beneficial, even revolutionary. Let’s look at Decathlon again: if a competitor decides to do the same thing tomorrow, it could take them 10 or 15 years, purely because of the differences in the supply chain. Decathlon has its own production and distribution networks, whereas a competitor would   have to work with more partners and get more players to deploy the technology before they get a return on investment.

 

“We tend to wait for it to be deployed sector by sector, but it’s usually use cases in niche markets. It’s not representative enough to say that an entire sector has been transformed by RFID.” 

 

It’s hard to give figures because studies are often based on the number of tags sold, but this indication distorts the statistics because Decathlon alone, for example, can make 50 million tags a year. An industrial, meanwhile, who only makes 50,000 tags but has very high added value, will be completely overlooked.

 

For IoT, it’s a different approach. It’s extremely popular and, aside from the technology itself, it can potentially transform economic models.  So you don’t approach it in the same way as a RFID project, which is more pragmatic in the way it addresses an initial problem.

 

How far ahead is France compared with other countries?

 

We’re quite far ahead: in the top 5 or 6 most advanced countries in terms of skills in all the areas required for implementing the technology. We also have an extensive network of SMBs. Concerning uses, we have some wonderful examples of uses, but we don’t necessarily communicate on them as much as other countries.

 

Also on our blog:

=> Exhauss: exoskeletons in the workplace fighting resistance to change

=> Foundation, digital engineering for building

=> Patrick Hoffstetter, CDO of Renault: you have to get all your staff involved in the digital transformation

Big Booster: From Lyon to Boston, innovation crossing frontiers!

Econocom 27 Jul 2015

There’s no summer break for innovation in Lyon. On 10 July 2015, the city launched a competition that will allow a number of startups with projects with a social or environmental impact to join an international acceleration programme. Set up in partnership with the city of Boston, Big Booster is the biggest international non-profit acceleration programme for early-stage startups. The applicants who qualify will get to go on a boot-camp with entrepreneurs and experts from the ecosystem and the three finalists will share a €100,000 prize.

 

Big Booster covers three sectors: digital, (IoT, smart city, etc.), healthcare (life sciences, eHealth) the environment (clean_technology), all areas with high economic potential. And the city of Lyon is something of a pioneer in these sectors, with a number competitive clusters, such as Imaginove  (digital), Lyonbiopole (healthcare) and Axelera (chemistry and the environment). Boston is equally prolific in this area, with agencies such as the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and is recognised as one of the world’s top 20 startup ecosystems. But having a digital, healthcare or clean tech project isn’t enough: to win the competition, the startups have to have a prototype or demo of their product or service and, naturally, have plans to launch on the international market.

Applications are open until 21 September 2015. Applicants must be based in the EMEA area.

 

Big Booster : l'innovation de Lyon à Boston

 

bootcamps TO FAST-TRACK STARTUPS

After the first round, 100 shortlisted startups will be invited to go on a boot-camp in Lyon in October 2015 during the BlendWebMix, a French-language webmaker conference. With keynotes from company heads and experts from Lyon and Boston, the event is designed to help entrepreneurs fine-tune their business model and learn how to pitch their idea in Boston. But now everyone will make it across the Atlantic: only 20 startups will be chosen for the seminar in Boston in February 2016. And in April, the three finalists will share the €100,000 grant. This prize will be given out at the next Biovision, the world life sciences forum, organised by the University of Lyon foundation.

 

 

LYON AND BOSTON: A histoRY OF digital, science AND innovation

In March, Karine Dognin-Sauze, Vice President of the City of Lyon in charge of innovation and digital, went to the States to meet Karilyn Crockett, Director of Economic Policy & Research for the City of Boston, to launch the competition. Thanks to their joint competition clusters, the two cities already have strong ties in academia, via a partnership between the University of Lyon and Boston Law School and an exchange programme with MIT as part of DEVWECAN  (a cancer research project). Lyon and Boston also share some economic interests as a number of companies from Lyon have set up in Boston, and vice versa.

 

 

The Big Booster programme should consolidate Lyon’s position in the global startup ecosystem and draw more ambitious entrepreneurs to the area.

 

 

Read about other innovation programmes:

Hello Tomorrow challenge: hello innovation!

Orange’s 4G kit for IoT: encouraging digital makers to design connected devices

L’Oreal: open innovation brings out your inner (connected) beauty

 

 

Photo credit: Pexels / Licence CC0

Geolocation via LED: Carrefour lights the way for shoppers

Econocom 9 Jun 2015

For the first time ever in the world, shoppers at the Carrefour Euralille hypermarket in Lille now have a guiding light: but we’re not talking about a guru in the fruit and veg aisle, but a location-based LED system developed by Philips.

 

 

Philips has just finished installing 2.5 kilometres of LED lighting in a newly-renovated hypermarket. In addition to lighting the store, the lighting fixtures act as a positioning grid which points customers to special offers on in the shop.

Carrefour et la géolocalisation par LED Philips

With the “Promo C-où” app, available for free from App Store, customers can, with just a few clicks, make a shopping list including any special offers on. Then, once they get to the store, the app helps them locate the products chosen. Marlène Tissé, Retail Marketing Manager for Philips, explains:

“Our technology uses VLC (Visible Light Communication). Each diode emits a unique code that is detected by all devices with a camera, without needing any specific accessories.”

 It works like an indoor positioning system: the LEDs send a one-way signal to smartphones with the dedicated app. To do so, the diodes switch off and on very quickly to change the light in a way that is invisible to the human eye but can be detected by a smartphone’s camera.

 

 

 A BRILLIANT innovation

For Carrefour, VLC is an opportunity to offer clients location-based services to ensure a more interactive, personalised shopping experience on the one hand, whilst making substantial energy savings thanks to the LED – a guaranteed return on investment.

 

 

Further reading:

#Retail and the beacon phenomenon

Frederic Granotier: LED is disruptive technology that will soon replace traditional lighting

 

Photo credit: Dylan_Payne – fun at the supermarket! / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY 2.0

Santé Autonomie Expo: Big Data, Business Intelligence, Serious Games.. Welcome to the hospital 2.0

Econocom 8 Jun 2015

Our healthcare system must continue to progress and fund innovation and research,” said the French Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Women’s Rights, Marisol Touraine, at the opening of the Sante Autonomie health expo, which took place on 19, 21 & 22 May in Paris. The purpose of the event was to bring healthcare professionals together to discuss various health issues. Among the key exhibition areas was Health-ITExpo, a dedicated space which looked at the transformation of digital uses. Digital hospitals, big data, data security: the digital revolution is underway and offers healthcare establishments opportunities to optimise management and improve the patient experience. Here are some of the highlights of the expo.

 

Salons Santé Autonomie

 

DATA: CENTRAL TO THE DIGITAL transition OF HOSPITALS

Hospitals generate huge amounts of data: not just health data but financial and administrative. The first major challenge for their IT teams involves finding a homogenous format for this data so it can be exploited. To that end, more and more hospitals are using machine learning  and business intelligence to optimise costs and become more competitive, by structuring and organising data and implementing monitoring indicators to help them make the best strategic and organisational decisions.

 

One such hospital is Saint-Joseph’s in Paris: since implementing a data analytics tool, it has managed to reduce waiting times in its accident & emergency ward and optimise bed occupation rates.  Christine Berthelier, the hospital’s Financial Controller, explains:

“A hospital can only partly predictable. It’s very difficult to predict the number of patients, activity, the different illnesses. That’s why we need indicators to help us make the right decisions, in terms of everything from managing the hospital to optimising the patient experience. The ultimate aim is always to improve the service we deliver.”

Saint-Joseph’s has rolled out a Microsoft solution, but there are of course other solutions on the market: in Lyon, for example, PSIH  designs and develops data analytics software for the healthcare sector. A number of hospitals have rolled out its BI Query, its ad hoc query tool designed to help improve governance using easy-to-use dashboards.

BI Query de PSIH

PSIH’s BI Query

 

But business intelligence can go much further: this is the era of the “watsonisation of health”, after IBM’s artificial intelligence programme.  A number of cognitive computing projects have been rolled out at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok and the Mayo Clinic in the US where Watson enables patients to be matched quickly and accurately with appropriate clinical trials. In an interview with DSIH magazine, Pascal Sempé, Director of Business Development for IBM France, talked about the potential significance of such tools in the decision-making process:

“The advent of Watson will very likely change the traditional role of experts. In any event, doctors will be able to access far more information. Watson will increase their analytics capabilities and help them better harness the potential of data.”

 

FIGHTING CYBER RISKS

Data inevitably raises the issue of data protection. According to the MIT Technology Review, data security for hospitals will be a major issue in 2015. With cyber-attacks on the rise, hospital staff need to be aware of the potential risks.

Salons Santé Autonomie

Cyber-attacks, the IT scourge of the 21st century,” with Anne Dorange and Serge Priso from Econocom Group

 

There are different types of cyber-attack: data theft, phishing, backdoor, brute-force attack, spyware, privileged account abuse – all of which have serious consequences for a healthcare organisation’s IT system.

 

In an interview in Technologies & Innovations hospitalières, Cédric Cartau,Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Nantes university hospital, the key issue to cyber-security is ensuring data integrity in a protected IT system. In a hospital, erroneous information can have potentially fatal consequences, such as administering the wrong dose of medication to a patient or a system outage that could compromise patient safety.

“IT security currently accounts for about 7% of a hospital’s IT budget. This can of course vary considerably depending on the age and maturity of the IT system, but also in terms of the decision-makers’ level of awareness of the issue.”

 

 

Serious games: A FUN APPROACH TO HEALTHCARE

On a lighter note, the Health-ITExpo also featured some video game workshops. For the past few years, serious games have been increasingly used in the healthcare sector. We attended the CCCP workshop and saw their presentation of their new game, Le Secret de l’Amarante.

Le secret de l'Amarante

This interactive comic strip aimed at patients and their families is designed to prevent Hospital-acquired infection (HAI). The game features Zoé, a little girl visiting her grandfather in hospital. Assisted by an assistant nurse called Alice, Zoé and the player learn some tips on how to limit the risk of infection. The game has been rolled out at Lille university hospital, which installed state-of-the-art multimedia bedside terminals a few years ago.

 

Also at the expo, start-up Dowino presented GlucoZor, a game devised for DinnoSantéand AJD, which specialise in helping diabetes patients. The game involves looking after a baby dinosaur with diabetes by feeding and entertaining him and monitoring his glycaemia levels. The app is designed to inform children with diabetes and help them take charge of their condition. The free app is available from Google Play and has already proving popular.

 

 

#Digitalforallnow in hospitals? It’s already happening: hospitals have officially made the digital transition. With the unprecedented boom in digital technologies, healthcare organisations can develop high-performance IT systems and offer patients an optimal hospital experience in which they are better cared for, better informed – and even entertained!

 

 

Further reading: 

Healthcare is big data ushering in a brave new world

Pushing back hospital walls with tablets

Dassault Systèmes: Helping budding digital entrepreneurs get started

Econocom 8 Jun 2015

Outscale, an IaaS specialist and Dassault Systèmes’s cloud operator, has set up a startup incubator called Scaledome to support the future digital champions and improve its competitive edge over the American heavyweights.

 

Startup incubator Scaledome, which opened just a few days ago, is located on the same premises as Outscale in Saint-Cloud on the outskirts of Paris. Cédric Joly, who’s in charge of the project, explains:

“It’s very exciting to welcome young digital talents to our headquarters. We have lots to offer them in terms of resources, knowledge and experience, but we’re also looking forward talking to and learning from them.” 

During the 12-week incubation period, the startups chosen will benefit from free cloud computing services from Dassault Systèmes’s subsidiary. Ultimately, these budding entrepreneurs specialising in machine learning, big data and IoT will probably become paying customers of Outscale.

The personalised support programme for the startups also includes training in finance, sales and marketing given by in-house experts or partners such as Cisco.

 

€500,000 investment

Some €500,000 has already been invested in the project this year and more than a million is planned in 2016 to help the 12 startups, funded by a number of partners, including the parent company Dassault Systèmes.

Applications are open until 17 June 2015. The short-listed entrepreneurs will pitch their project to a jury of 20 experts during Outscale’sCloud Days” on 25 June. Four startups will then be invited to join Scaledome in September 2015. The three-month incubation phase will end with a presentation to all the investors to help launch the startups.

 

YOUNG DIGITAL TALENTS TO BOOST innovation

“This is a pivotal time when it’s becoming crucial to identify and help tomorrow’s digital champions. There are lots of initiatives in France today and we’re very excited to contribute to this major movement.” 

For Laurent Seror, CEO of Outscale, sharing office space with startups will boost Outscale’s innovation capabilities and help strengthen its competitive edge over the cloud giants. The company has big plans and aims to increase its revenue from €10 million to €100 million by 2018. Outscale currently has two data centres in France, another two in the US and one in Hong Kong.

 

Last March Partech Ventures decided to finance innovative digital startups with its seed fund Partech Entrepreneur II with a record €60 million provided by a number of partners, including Econocom. The venture capital firm also opened the Partech Shaker, an open innovation campus in central Paris, a few weeks ago. The entrepreneurial spirit is breathing new life into the #Digitalforallnow movement!

 

Photo credit: Brian Mullender – Dassault Rafale B / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY 2.0

Raphaël Mastier, Microsoft France: “Hospitals should industrialise their digital transformation“

Raphaël Mastier 5 Jun 2015

Have hospitals begun the digital transformation? What are the latest digital innovations in the healthcare sector? What will medicine be like in the future? How advanced is France in digital healthcare?

We talked about the deployment of digital technology in hospitals with Raphaël Mastier, head of development for healthcare at Microsoft France.

 

 

THE ADVANTAGES OF digital FOR hospitals

Where digital is concerned, how far have hospitals come?

“Historically, digital has never been considered as strategic for hospitals.”  

Raphaël Mastier: Hospitals have gradually fallen further and further behind where digital is concerned. As investments have been pretty low, solutions have been implemented but not refreshed and so have now become totally obsolete. IT assets are very fragmented, which makes deployment and interoperability very complicated so that now we need to change a lot of things.

 

What about data in the hospital sector?

“Healthcare is one of the industries that produces the most data, and yet, paradoxically, exploits it the least.”

There are three types of data: medical, administrative and financial. If this data were better exploited, we could not only give valuable assistance to doctors and hospital Management but contribute to the overall prevention effort.”

We offer analytics and monitoring solutions. At Saint Joseph hospital, for example, we rolled out business intelligence tools which have enabled them to optimise bed occupation rates and waiting times in Accident & Emergency. Staff realised the potential of the data they have and can now manage, monitor and anticipate the running of the hospital more effectively.

“What we’re going to see more and more is predictive analytics, or machine learning, i.e. the ability to analyse volumes of upstream information s in order to improve the way or a system or organisation works.”

With predictive analytics, we can calculate the emergency room waiting time based on an analysis made over several years. That way we can plan the necessary staff and resources. Another example: with machine learning, by analysing all the data from patients being treated in hospital for a certain illness, we’ll be able to determine when is the best time to discharge them – without having to re-admit them a week later. Machine learning will enable hospitals to organise more efficiently.

 

 

A STEP TOWARDS SHARING hOSpital IT SYSTEMS

Another hot topic: cloud computing.

 “Strange as it may sound, data will be made more secure by outsourcing it.”

Hospitals are not data security specialists. The cloud can offer both data security capabilities and flexibility for deployments. Hospitals will no longer have to develop services in-house, they just consume them in their working environment. This way of working will change the way hospitals are organised in the future.

 

What’s your methodology? How do you work with hospitals?

We have an ecosystem of partners, such as Econocom, for example, all over the country. Microsoft’s solutions are often rolled out at hospitals by these partners. But when necessary, we can send in one of our consultants to help ensure the solution is running correctly.

We also have hospitals that come to us with specific issues that need to be addressed. That’s what happened with St Joseph’s hospital, who wanted to analyse their data in order to optimise organisation.

Collaboration and private social networks is also crucial as they enable better communication between the various departments of a hospital. We are very proactive in this area and can show them examples of what has worked with other clients. Sometimes we use examples that aren’t even from the healthcare sector to explain what we can do from a technological standpoint and how that can help staff. Then once we’ve given these ideas, we work on a specific project either with our partners or directly with the client.

 

 

STAFF FRUSTRATED WITH THE SLOW DEPLOYMENT OF NEW technologies

How are staff reacting to the digital transformation?

“Where staff are concerned, we often have problems with digital obsolescence.”

Healthcare professionals working at a hospital expects to use the latest digital solutions, and they’re often frustrated because hospitals get behind with rolling out technology so the solutions available aren’t exactly state-of-the-art.

We also have the opposite situation, i.e. hospitals that are very advanced and offer technologies that staff aren’t entirely comfortable with. That’s what happens sometimes with private social networks, for example. When they’re implemented, there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of change management. We usually use our partners for this and they work with the client’s human resources team or the in-house IT deployment team.

 

And what about patients? How can they benefit from new technologies?

“A patient’s perception of a hospital depends on what he or she experiences during this/her hospital stay. The patient room is therefore a showroom for the hospital.”

The more connected hospital rooms there are, the more positive patients’ perception of hospitals will be. Look at Lille university hospital and its digital bedside terminals. Patients have access to a range of added-value services: they can telephone, go online, watch TV, and all this increases their comfort and reduces stress. And when a doctor or nurse comes into the room, they can switch to the business application tool via the same touch screen.

Patients are also increasingly demanding more information about their condition and treatment: when they’re admitted to hospital, they go through a series of examinations but they don’t always know exactly when they’re going to have treatment or the name of the doctor administering it.

“Possibly in the future, when patients are admitted to hospital, they’ll have a smartphone app giving them real-time information on the treatment they’re due to have.”

In the States, they’re beginning to give patients access to their electronic medical records, meaning patients are more empowered. But this is still new in France.

To analyse patients’ or users’ perception of healthcare services in a particular town or area, hospitals can look at feedback on social networks. This will give them the information they need to monitor their transformation in terms of people’s perception.

 

 

FacilitATING HOME CARE

In order to remain competitive, hospitals need to reduce the length of hospital stays and there will be more and more home care. In Paris, public hospitals have rolled out Windows tablets to ensure more effective monitoring of patients at home and coordination between the various carers. Nurses on house calls can use tablets as a sort of paperless medical monitoring tool that is synchronised with the hospital’s IT system.

“The hospital room will become a link in a chain which is held together by digital.”

We are involved in digital projects both in preparation for the hospital stay to ensure they’re optimised in terms of the patient’s profile, and after they’re discharged, when connected devices are used for remote monitoring.

 

How does France compare with the rest of the world in this field?

In France, we’re held back by very complex regulations that can hinder the development of startups. In the States, it’s easier for startups in the healthcare sector.

“We have some very innovative companies in the healthcare sector and even more in wellbeing. We’re also very advanced where medical equipment is concerned, such as operating theatres and artificial hearts. And yet, when you look at digital and the rate of IT equipment in hospitals, we’re still very much behind – some are even still using paper. There’s a real contradiction.”

In other countries, particularly in Scandinavia, hospitals invest much more in digital, and their IT systems are far more up to date. And once the digital infrastructure is modern, you can build services much more easily.

“There’s a big focus on digital and that will mean major digital transformation projects can be rolled out in hospitals.”

 

 

Further reading:

Telemedicine: making healthcare accessible for everyone, everywhere: Pierre Simon and Nicolas Vaillant

Healthcare: with a tablet in my room I feel at home

 

 

Photo credit: GotCredit – Health / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY 2.0

Normandy Chamber of Commerce: a serious game about competitive intelligence

Econocom 22 May 2015

Over the past few years, serious games or educational video games have been rolled out in a number of organisations. From HR to healthcare and education, a number of industry sectors are using these fun, interactive tools to get across messages or simplify information. A few weeks ago, the Normandy Chamber of Commerce and Industry began experimenting with it. The purpose of the project is to provide training in competitive intelligence for company heads and employees, focusing on topical issues such as data security, social networks and hacking. 

Serious game - CCI Normandie

In the Chamber of Commerce’s competitive intelligence serious game, the player plays the part of Henri or Marie, who works for ZDONG Innovation, a company that makes electronic springs in a series of scenarios such as data or prototype theft, website hacking, fraud, etc.

Each of the interactive mini-scenarios conveys a message about best practices such as non-disclosure clause, data backup etc., and includes links to the websites of various organisations. If users wish to find out more, they can contact the Chamber of Commerce.

Serious Game CCI Grand Hainault

It’s not the first time a French Chamber of Commerce has experimented with serious games: last year, the Grand Hainault’s chamber developed Ma Ch’tite entreprise, a game designed to promote entrepreneurial spirit in the north of France by allowing players to test their knowledge on the basics of running a company.

vidEo GAMES MEET E-LEARNING

Learning games such as those developed by the Normandy and Grand Hainault Chambers of Commerce are designed to engage and stimulate members of the public and thus facilitate the learning process. It’s a testament to the increasing popularity of gamification that video games have found their way into traditional fields such as insurance, agriculture and science: the digitalisation of society is well and truly underway!

Exhauss, Exoskeletons in the workplace: “Fighting resistance to change“

Econocom 20 May 2015

Will we soon be seeing Iron Men everywhere?  Possibly: the concept of the augmented man, i.e. a human whose performance is enhanced by technology, has become a reality.

Exhauss is the first company in the world to sell industrial exoskeletons. These structures are designed to increase workers’ physical capabilities whilst preserving their health. Exhauss’ exoskeletons consist of a mechanical or electro-mechanical harness that can make factories look like the set of a science fiction film.

So how do exoskeletons work? And how to convince companies and employees to drastically change their working methods? How to fight against resistance to change? We asked Pierre Davezac, Managing Director of Exhauss.

 

 

POWERED exoskeletons CAN PREVENT repetitive strain injurIES

Could you tell us a little about what you do and the products you make?

Pierre Davezac: First I need to tell you a bit about our history. Exhauss is a subsidiary of L’Aigle, the only French manufacturer of camera stabilisers for the film and television industry. So we’ve effectively been making exoskeletons for the past 12 years, only they weren’t always called that!

“What’s unique about our approach is that we use our mechanical know-how to make exoskeletons that are already functional, rather than using less mature technologies such as robotics, hydraulics or electrics…These techniques are still at the lab stage, whereas we’ve been at the market-ready stage for nearly two years.”

We have a number of different models. The basic model H (Hanger) is a frame on a harness that the operator wears and thus becomes a sort of human crane. He/she can lift any tool or weight without the slightest physical strain. We have another version of this model with an electronic winch: L (Lifter) can hold a weight on the ground and then lift it up just by hitting a button.

Exosquelettes de travail EXHAUSS

Other models are interfaced with the operator’s limbs. With the exoskeleton W (Worker), for example, the operator’s arms are carried and reinforced by the mechanical structure. The operator can thus perform all his/her daily tasks and operate tools without feeling the strain, which increases comfort levels considerably. Our latest model, the S (Stronger) is mechatronic, which means the arms have a spring scale  with an electronic card, motor and battery. So when the operator gets hold of an object, the exoskeleton weighs it and the motors adapt the arm’s mechanical carrying capability accordingly.

“When the operator’s arms are empty, the mechanical arms have no strength, but as soon as they pick something up the exoskeleton increases its strength so it can carry the weight effortlessly.”

At the moment, we’re focusing on the weakest and most fragile parts of the body: the arms and  back, but towards the end of the year we’re going to start adding mechanical legs, so we’ll have “complete” exoskeletons.

 

CONSTRUCTION, logistiCS, automoTIVE: A BROAD CUSTOMER PORTFOLIO!

Who’s your clientele?

These programmes are usually pretty confidential. The first orders we got were from the construction industry. We also work with major car manufacturers, logistics companies, retailers, and any industry that involves repetitive handling of loads. We have clients who prepare orders for cosmetic companies: they combine the products so have to carry heavy buckets of chemicals.

“We have a very wide range of clients: in just about every industry sector, the activity at some point involves carrying a heavy load.”

In most cases, we deal with the Health & Safety Officers or ergonomists. Typically, it starts with a pilot project in the company, followed by a procurement process which is often very long.

 

COMBATTING FEAR OF change

What sort of obstacles have you come up against?

“When we go to present our solutions to prospective clients, we usually deal with around a dozen executives, Health & Safety or Environmental Health Officers, Health & Safety Committees, doctors, ergonomists, Purchasing Managers, Factory Managers, etc. who have got together to try and improve employees’ working conditions. But it’s often the employees themselves who’ll say “I’m not putting that on!” 

There are a lot of pre-conceived ideas about exoskeletons, at least with certain people. Young people, for example, are more aware of health issues and watch science-fiction films like Iron Man or Alien, so they’re more receptive to the idea. But with people who’ve been working for ten years or more with the same habits and methods, it’s harder. We have to help them accept the idea of exoskeletons. The change is a gradual process: we present the concept and organise sessions whereby employees can try out the exoskeletons and say what they think.

 

 

Do you train staff?

We always go on-site to deploy the exoskeletons. We do a technical briefing on how they work and spend a lot of time showing them the right posture and movements. We usually see that people have got into bad habits and don’t even notice it anymore.

“Rolling out exoskeletons also involves thinking about working methods.”

We recently deployed an exoskeleton for a sandblasting expert who had a very heavy hose. He already had a lift table but he didn’t use it. So during the training session, we stressed that the exoskeleton means he doesn’t have to bear the weight of the hose but also pointed out the importance of using all the equipment available.

 

 

Have you had any feedback from users?

Yes, lots. One striking example is from a client in the construction industry. A builder had to sand the 1,000m² ceiling of the lobby of a five-star hotel in Paris. It had to be done manually to get a better finish: a nightmare of a job! Before he got the exoskeleton, the builder would sand for 10 or 15 minutes then take a 20-minute break, which meant he managed to sand around 4m² of ceiling a day. With the exoskeleton, he can now do more like 18m² a day, easily. The fact that the builder no longer has to tire out his arm means he can work much better and faster, and with a better output. He said that he used to go home in the evening and just collapse onto the sofa, exhausted, whereas now he takes care of his children!

 

Do you have any competitors?

“We’re the only company in the world that does what we do.” 

There are people in the exoskeleton field but they tend to focus on therapeutic or medical uses, for example to help wheelchair-bound patients learn to walk. Then there’s the defence sector: in the US, there’s Sarcos or the University of Berkeley. We’re the only company that provides these solutions for ordinary tradesmen and labourers, people who ruin their health through their job.  But we know we won’t be without competition for long!

 

 

Tomorrow, will everyone have exoskeletons to do maintenance and DIY at home?

Our exoskeletons cost between €4 and €10,000. That’s within a company’s budget but it’s still a lot of money for individuals. The growth of exoskeletons will depend on how widely they’re deployed in the field – that’s what will bring prices down.

“Technically, we’re ready but we need to get people used to the rather unusual sight of exoskeletons in factories!”

 

 

Further reading:

From manufacturing to the service industry, robots are getting smarter and more collaborative

Cobots: man’s new best friend?

A mobile robot in American hospitals

 

Photo credit: wwwuppertal – Iron man / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-NC 2.0

Greater Lyon area: a smart metropolis buzzing with innovation

Karine Dognin-Sauze 19 May 2015

How to leverage new technologies and make them a source of progress? How to organise the industrial transformation of an area and build a space that addresses energy requirements, reduces heavy traffic congestion and ensures quality of life in the city? Karine Dognin-Sauze, Vice-president of the Lyon City Council in charge of Innovation, Smart City and Digital Development, answered these questions and more.

 

Grand Lyon Métropole Intelligente

 

Karine Dognin-Sauze comes from a corporate background: after spending over twenty years in the video games industry for US company Electronic Arts, she joined GL Events Group where she set up a dedicated innovation structure. She first went into politics in 2007: initially in charge of a new technologies delegation, she focused on making digital a priority for the Lyon area and became interested in industrial transformation via digital technology. Seven years ago, Dognin-Sauze began a major smart city project in Lyon. Now, as Vice-president of the Lyon City Council, she’s in charge of digital and innovation.

 

“I think it’s essential that, where the smart city is concerned, a political vision must play a role: this vision involves preparing the area for the future and bringing it into the 21st century.”

 

 

In what way is Lyon “smart”? 

 

Karine Dognin-Sauze: the city is expanding considerably. Lyon Confluence is a real technological showroom in terms of energy standards and districts such as Part-Dieu are going to undergo a major renovation over the next ten to fifteen years. We’ve launched some major urban projects to experiment with energy, mobility, healthcare and collective intelligence. Currently, 40 experimentation projects, planned for short periods of three to five years, will focus on disruptive innovations and show very tangible examples of what a smart city is, beyond the purely conceptual dimension.

 

We wanted to bring about a transformation of the economic landscape, and one of the prerequisites for this was consolidating our strengths in the digital field so we could work with players in the digital, software and web innovation industries, and combine these areas of expertise with those of other fields such as chemical research or healthcare.

 

Quartier Lyon Confluence

 

BOOSTING innovation BY COMBINING DIFFERENT FIELDS OF EXPERTISE

So who exactly are the organisations involved in the various projects in Lyon? 

 

All the projects rolled out involve consortiums of companies from a wide variety of backgrounds. The Greater Lyon Area’s smart approach is an opportunity both for startups to launch themselves and for large corporations to share their solutions with others.

 “We try to go beyond the logic of innovation to source expertise from different areas and combine different types of companies: enterprises and startups, local and international players.” 

We’re not just working on projects designed to transform the city; there are also ones which, by transforming the city, should generate innovation and stabilise economic models. The value chain is changing and a number of service providers in the energy or mobility sector are looking for these economic models.

“As a community we have totally changed the way we design cities: we’ve gone from a call-for-proposal rationale to a “bottom-up” rationale, whereby we lay the foundations for innovation.” 

To that end, we’ve been focusing our resources on governance and creating venues for innovation. For example, we’ve been linking up all the co-working spaces so that innovation communities can get together.

 

And a few months ago we launched TUBÀ – the “urban experimentation tube,” a living lab that combines public and private data to co-design directly with end-users: we call upon people from different backgrounds who have ideas for new services. TUBÀ is headquartered near Part-Dieu station, in an area with a very diverse population who are involved in designing these new urban services.

 

Could you give us some specific examples of “smart projects?” 

 

We’re working on projects in a number of different areas. The first one is energy; one of our most remarkable smart grid projects is the one we rolled out in the Lyon-Confluence area: Lyon Smart Community, which received €50 million worth of funding from NEDO, a Japanese para-governmental body. Around fifty partners are involved in this project for building a group of energy-plus houses called Hikari (which means “light” in Japanese), which will be occupied by its first inhabitants by June this year. The surplus energy produced by the buildings will be used to power Sunmoov’, a fleet of car-pool cars used by residents who choose not to own a car.

Another project we’re working on is called Smart Electric Lyon, sponsored by EDF, which aims to create energy services which will be combined with the Linky smart meters.

 

Where mobility is concerned, there’s the Optimod project, which involves collecting all the data from public transport, taxis, car parks, the Bluely car-sharing and Velov bike-sharing schemes and thus produce a mobility data centre that can predict traffic at a given time. This is an unprecedented innovation, the only one of its kind all over the world. It will give rise to a whole new range of services for individual mobility but also for freight traffic. Thanks to the Onlymoov app, you can plan your route from A to B, including all the traffic data.

Transports à Lyon

 

In terms of collective intelligence, around ten days ago we launched a project called City Remix: in busy areas such as the Saint Paul railways station, we get citizens to share their ideas for new services and new ways of living in the city.

 

How do you communicate to citizens about these projects? 

 

We communicate on a  project-by-project basis, because there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of awareness and information on smart cities.

“Smart city as such doesn’t mean much to citizens.” 

We try to be very pragmatic by showing exactly how these projects can change everyday life for people. The question of innovation is ever-present in our city: when you walk down the street, you may see a driverless car or digital signs being tested. We try to get people used to these new inventions, mainly through events like the Fête des Lumières (Lights Festival) which attracts 4 million visitors.

“We make a point of not focusing too much on new technologies themselves but on what they can allow us to do.” 

So far, the feedback has been very positive. Where some of the experimental projects are concerned, in particular the Lyon Smart Community social housing project, we had to explain to people living in outdated housing how important the energy issue is. We had to show them how the project was useful. We do things on case-by-case basis.

 

INCORPORATING IT INTO AN OVERALL APPROACH

Where smart cities are concerned, how do you think France ranks on a global scale?

 

In France, the situation is rather unusualin that we’ve had toincorporate the smart city culture into existing, traditional cities, unlike in other parts of the world where smart cities are built from scratch.

 

We also have a less commercially-oriented approach with digital players, who don’t really understand the paradoxes of a city and try to push solutions that were devised out of context, without really thinking about how citizens would accept them or how they would address their expectations.

“I’m convinced that in Europe, and particularly in France, we really have an alternative smart city approach. At least, that’s what we’re trying to do in Lyon.” 

The question of how citizens should appropriate the smart city is a whole other matter: it’s a question of what progress it can offer and how the citizens accept it, what they want and how to take into account these expectations in the smart city projects. The media is starting to talk about smart cities and that’s good, because people often have a rather negative perception of them. So we have to find a new way of talking about it.

“Inevitably, new technologies are permeating the way we live in cities, affecting organisation models, challenging the ways we do things, the way we run cities. And this is only the beginning!”

 

 

Further reading:

Eric Legale from Issy-les-Moulineaux: innovation is in our DNA

GDF Suez Cit’ease project

Jean-Louis Missika: a smart city council means a smart city

 

Photo credits: K.G.Hawes – Faux Tilt-Shift: Lyon, Laury Rouzé -Passerelle de la Confluence et Connie Ma – Greater Lyon looks pretty confusing… / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 et Alpaca / Métropole de Lyon

Could #teleworking be the solution to rural depopulation?

Econocom 13 May 2015

The Gers department in the south-west of France is not only known for its sumptuous cuisine, but is something of a pioneer where telecommuting is concerned. Since 2008, Soho Solo has been helping freelancers and teleworkers from other areas of France and overseas settle in the area. Set up by the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the aim of the scheme is to boost the local economy by attracting professionals from different fields (digital, communications, translators, the arts). How? By helping them settle in and offering support and connectivity.

 

Nestled between the Atlantic and the Pyrenees, Gers is a pleasant place to live. And yet, recent years have seen a mass exodus from the area. So the Chamber of Commerce decided to do something about it:  Audrey Fievet, Head of Economic Development at the Gers Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explains:

“The villages were being abandoned. We had to find people who wanted to come and live in the country. So we thought: why not target freelance workers?”

And that’s how the Soho Solo (Small Office, Home Office) project, an innovative programme to assist remote workers, came about. In addition to providing information, induction and assistance with setting up their business, the Chamber has also set up various infrastructures to facilitate teleworking for the incomers.

 

aDSL, REMOTE WORKING centres AND coworking SPACES

The essential prerequisite is of course broadband internet: 94% of the 6,257 km² of the Gers now has ADSL, funded by the local and regional authorities. For the more remote villages located too far away from the telecommunication centres for network coverage, a Wi-Fi project is underway.

Eight remote working centres have also been set up all over the department featuring fully-equipped offices with free internet access where freelancers can hold meetings or receive clients. Alternatively, teleworkers looking for a more permanent venue can lease an office at one of the two co-working spaces.

In order to create synergies and avoid the isolation often associated with freelancing and remote working, the Club Soho Solo holds monthly meetings to bring together the community so they can meet up and network. An extranet is also available with an internal directory and a newsletter.

A total of 47 “host” villages and 31 associate villages are involved in the Soho Solo scheme and as such have pledged to offer the best conditions for welcoming remote workers and helping them settle in.

 

70% OF “Soho SOlo” PROFESSIONALS WORK IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

Most of the teleworkers in Gers are freelancers or entrepreneurs who receive support and advice from the Chamber of Commerce. But there are also some salaried works who have managed to convince their employers to let them relocate and work from home. This involves amending their employment contract to include specific information about their status as a remote worker in Gers.

Since the scheme was launched, over 200 “Soho Solo” workers have relocated to Gers with their families, bringing a total of 500 new residents who will help boost the local economy. The incomers, meanwhile, can say goodbye to pollution peaks, daily commutes and sky-high property prices: having left the metropolis, they can enjoy a better quality of life – something which wouldn’t be possible without digital!

 

 

Explore in more detail:

Belgium’s Dept. of Social Security : “No one has their own office anymore“

Teleworking at Econocom and Michelin

 

 

Photo credit: Shereen M – Day 88 | June 28 2008 | Yay! / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Eric Legale from Issy-les-Moulineaux: “Innovation is in our DNA“

Eric Legale 11 May 2015

In Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the Hauts-de-Seine, children are taught using interactive videos, their parents pay for parking on their smartphones and senior citizens are improving their memory with help from a robot. This town of 65,000 inhabitants is already one of the best connected in France, and has been contemplating the theme of the smart city for some time:with an open data policy, the creation of a smart grid, smart mobility projects and more.We interviewed Eric Legale, the Managing Director of Issy Média, the local public company responsible for the town’s communication tasks and innovation projects.

Issy-les-Moulineaux, ville connectée

issy-Les-Moulineaux, a totally Digital town for everyBODY

When we think about the smart city, we often think of Issy-les-Moulineaux, why is that?

Eric Legale: In Issy-les-Moulineaux, we began our digital strategy a long time ago: this year we are celebrating 20 years since the creation of the first free Internet access point for inhabitants. We have been investing in digital technology in order to develop the local fabric, strengthen our economic competitiveness and attract new businesses and new inhabitants. Innovation is in our DNA. We are trying to stay one step ahead – that’s why we like to experiment – while staying practical and helping inhabitants use this technology.

 

What innovative digital technology can the inhabitants of Issy-les-Moulineaux already use?

Today, inhabitants of Issy-les-Moulineaux have access to all of the local administrative services online. Everything that can possibly be offered in a digital format is there for them to use. For example, they can pay for their children’s school lunches online, reserve a time slot in the leisure centres on Wednesday afternoon or on the weekend, pay for car parking on their mobile phone or borrow a DVD from one of the local multimedia libraries and return it on a Sunday night if they want using an electronic returns system. At school the children work with interactive video technology. This week, we also just gave the local senior citizens a Nao robot that does gym classes with them and helps them to exercise their memory.

“Digital services are offered in every branch of our activities, for all groups of the population and all age groups.”

Right now we’re working on a lot of mobility projects, testing smartphone applications in particular, that will allow inhabitants to find a car parking space, to use a private car park or even to see where the bus is in real time, so that they don’t miss it when it’s just around the corner.

 

How do the inhabitants of Issy-les-Moulineaux feel about the town becoming more digital?

The population is extremely well-connected to the Internet, and it’s been like this for many years. Inhabitants use the Internet a lot and encourage its development. When people complain it’s not because of the services we offer, but that they don’t have enough “very, very, high-speed” access (however, Issy-les-Moulineaux will be the first town with over 50,000 inhabitants to be 100% fibre optic by the end of this year). When it comes to digital services, people use them at their own pace, if and when they need to:

“Our desire isn’t to impose them on people. What I mean is, these digital services exist and can make life easier, you can choose to use them or leave them… It’s a very pragmatic strategy. “

 

What is the town’s policy in terms of open data?

We began our open data policy three years ago. We started with the data from the town council budget… The bravest move that a council can make! We recently obtained a new platform from Open Data Soft, to simplify how this data is displayed. Actually, one of the main difficulties of open data is that this is raw data we’re talking about! Today, dozens of different types of data have been put on line and we are trying to get inhabitants and developers interested.

Issy-les-Moulineaux

the smart city must nOt be an exclusively technical vision

How do you define the smart city?

There are several definitions of a smart city. The one I like the most is the most obvious:

“For us, a smart city is a city that cares about its environment, that can avoid traffic congestion, that manages its consumption of energy and water and has communication tools at its disposal that make it simpler for citizens to use all of these services.”

We sometimes quote the 6 levers of smart cities. My favourite lever is the social lever: the smart city is first and foremost a community of men and women that must have access to education, culture and services. Next, through infrastructure and the use of digital technology we can improve the management of the city – its energy use and transport. What’s more, in the future this is actually what will make the difference between a connected city and all the other. In connected cities citizens will have a raised awareness of their energy use and the tools they need to manage this consumption.

I’ll give you a very concrete example: For three years we have been working on a project called the Issy Grid. Initially this was to see how we could save electricity during peak hours in an office building. Today, this project has widened to include residential buildings, especially those in Fort d’Issy. In this eco-district, all of the inhabitants have a domotics system that allows them to visualise their electricity use and take action accordingly – easily managing the thermostat for example. Consequently they can lower their energy use and also the cost of their electricity bill. We are also working on transport issues and trying to lead by example. With digital technology there are promising ways for reducing traffic jams, improving air quality, reducing pollution and mitigating climate change.

“In our vision, the smart city can only be made a reality if there is unfailing cooperation between the public and private sectors, because nobody is capable of making it happen alone.”

Issy Grid was set up thanks to a consortium of ten large companies including Bouygues, Microsoft, Total, EDF and Schneider Electric. On the question of transport, we’re still in the preliminary stages, but we’re working in partnership with a lot of start-ups and with large groups like Cisco, Microsoft, Transdev etc.

 

Can you already see the results of these actions?

It’s still difficult to measure. The best result we’ve had is that in 20 years the number of jobs in Issy-les-Moulineaux has more than doubled, and the number of inhabitants has increased by 35% while housing tax has decreased by 30%. These figures show us that by investing in digital technology we can ensure the town excels in its economic and social development. The smart city is a new concept. We’ve been working on energy use for three years, but transport is still tentative… We have to allow enough time for the results to show.

 

How do you think France fares in comparison with other countries on the smart city theme?

There aren’t really any truly convincing models of the smart city around the world.Generally the best examples are projects that have risen out of nowhere. In other words new cities, often in South Korea, or the Arabian Peninsula. These cities are excellent technically-speaking, but lack a soul. A city is above all the men and women that live in it. They are what make it what it is. If you just build buildings with a lot of connections and put human beings in them, it’s sterile.

“When we talk about smart cities, we need to emphasise the fact that, first of all, we are building a city for the people who live there and not just for personal gratification. We’re not making a computer-aided city, we’re setting up tools so that we can be more efficient and simplify life for citizens. I think we have to keep repeating that the smart city is not a technical vision, but a place to live, that excels thanks to its digital technology. “

Today, smart grid projects are popping up everywhere and smart mobility projects are appearing.The Internet has existed for 20 years, and there are thousands of cities that are highly-advanced in terms of digital uses.So right now France is doing pretty well!

Teachers want to bring schools into the digital age, now !

Econocom 7 May 2015

Widespread deployment of digital tools and resources is one of the key elements of a bill by the French government to modernise the education system. For the government and many members of the teaching profession, the digital transformation is a major ambition which should serve to make schools more egalitarian: digital technology can address a number of issues in the education system such as reducing drop-out rates and opening up schools to the wider world.  

It was with these goals in mind that the National Survey on Digital for Education was conducted in France this year, collecting feedback from teachers, local authorities, charities, parents and students to use as guidelines for future legislation. The first results were published last week.

 Concertation nationale sur le numérique pour l'éducation

digital SCHOOL= MORE MOTIVATED STUDENTS? 

Digital tools and resources can create a variety of learning situations and as such are valuable educational tools. We recently looked at the twictation or interactive dictation on Twitter, but there are numerous other examples of innovative teaching methods using digital technology, such as the flipped classroom. Students are encouraged to post and share online: at a secondary school near Poitiers, for example, students are invited to create and share their Webfolio, a digital portfolio combining all their classwork.

82% of the teachers and school heads who responded to the survey said that digital technology means students can try, make mistakes and then try again. It creates a more stimulating approach to learning and helps them develop their creativity – 77.8% believe digital allows students to create and produce things themselves and play a more active role in the learning process.

Concertation nationale sur le numérique pour l'éducation

 

digital TRAINING FOR TEACHERS IS ESSENTIAL

More than nine out of ten education professional would like to have a simple, secure Internet connection in the classroom, and varied, high-quality digital teaching resources, whilst 97.5% would like to have the right equipment to prepare their lessons properly. Other things respondents asked for were a catalogue of dedicated teaching resources and services (95.5%), training in using digital technology in the classroom (93.4 %) and digital technology in general (90.3%) and onsite support on a daily basis (93.3%).

 

However, teachers are not yet ready for 100% digitalised teaching material: over half of respondents said they would like to keep using traditional text books.

Concertation nationale sur le numérique pour l'éducation

Teachers also believe that digital will open schools up to the outside world, for example by offering easier access to documents and media and a wealth of online resources (94.4%), facilitating international exchanges (85%) and allowing contact with scientific and technological organisations (80.2%).

 

See the complete results of the National Survey on Digital for Education (in French) online.

 

 

Further reading:

School is dead: long live school!

– Education: without digital technology in schools today there’ll be no jobs tomorrow

 

Photo credit: Leonardo Augusto Matsuda – Amigos do Planeta – Inclusão Digital é isso aí! / Flickr.com / License CC BY-NC 2.0