Digital for all now

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

Jean-Louis Missika 3 Dec 2014

The “Digital for all, Now” cause is gradually being taken up the Paris City Council. From co-creation between departments to co-governance with citizens, the City of Paris is working on making digital technology a performance driver for innovative public politics. But in order to make the French capital a truly smart city, it needs to be organised and agile-thinking. And this is precisely what Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of town planning, architecture and economic development, is working on.



“The digital revolution affects all aspects of human endeavour,” says Missika. “You need to understand how to spread digital technology, even in the more traditional sectors.”


And this is precisely what the Paris council’s “smart city” team is working on: boosting digital innovation to ensure greater flexibility. A major project is underway, starting with removing the typical barriers inherent in local government:


“A number of factors are hindering our ability to innovate and go digital. The ‘silo’ rationale and risk aversion are holding us back. Whilst the culture of innovation is well established in the city, public officials are still reluctant to work with start-ups that may be a ‘flash in the pan’. But with more and more large corporations converting to open innovation (through partnerships with research labs, SMBS, etc.) this open innovation culture is gradually spreading to government bodies. We’ve come a long way in the past ten years or so: the City of Paris is no longer a stranger to experimentation.”




To lead this revolution, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has set up a dedicated team:
“We’ve set up a smart city team at the City Council because we thought we needed a special environment to get projects moving. We also needed a team of people that could break away from the vertical rationale of city councils: we need to bring together not only the different departments of the Council but get them to communicate with skills networks. This organisational aspect is fundamental for us to work effectively and rapidly towards making a smart city.”


The project requires sharing and exchanging, in order to change mind-sets:


“We’re very focused on dialogue. We’ve set up workshops that all the stakeholders are invited to. We’re also creating participative tools, for example for the budget, and there’s a discussion platform for local town planning. It’s a new democratic culture that we hope to develop. The aim is to develop the three key aspects of a smart city: an open, connected, smart city.”




This will require equipping the city with high-performance networks, but it also means getting feedback from citizens, as the Deputy Mayor points out:


“The City of Paris needs to apply a rationale of co-governance with citizens in order to make them active contributors of the smart city. “Digital for All, Now” is precisely what our project is about: it’s not what a city should “do” but what it can “help others do”, for example with digital apps like DansMaRue (an app launched by the City of Paris whereby citizens can report graffiti, vandalism, etc. to the council, Ed). We should be facilitators, accelerators but also promote all the digital services available and digitise administrative services so that citizens can carry out administrative procedures and formalities from the comfort of their own homes.”


This innovative empowerment initiative is establishing Paris as one of the European innovation leaders.


Photo : Hôtel de Ville par Jean-Louis Zimmermann, licence CC BY-SA 2.0

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