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1. Introdution to the colloquium

Our objective is to organise a colloquium on the topic of "Smart Territories", combining scientific and technical approaches with social and human sciences and urban planning.  The projects being undertaken or under consideration in this domain aim to optimise the ways in which territories operate; in order to achieve this, they  rely on new technical processes made available by various advances across multiple fields of science and technology. Their implementation and, by extension, their success, is wholly dependent on their social and economic acceptance, as well as the widespread adaptation of the practices they intend to implement. In combining these four approaches (technical, social, economic and development/planning), the aim is not to set each against the other but to encourage dialogue between them, and highlight the fact that the development of such projects depends on their ability to communicate the technical advances required and the ability and/or willingness of inhabitants and businesses to get on board, adopt new measures and change their habits.

The initiatives being launched under the banner of "smart territories" by regional development bodies, operating on various scales, suggest improving the functioning of towns and regions by reducing their energy consumption and environmental impact, and more generally by improving their "attractiveness." Using innovative and state-of-the-art concepts in the fields of energy, information circulation, mobility, and waste management, these projects require coordination between multiple operators. The resulting complexity requires the development of measures whose aim is to transform the affected populations into stakeholders in their own right. In this sense, projects claiming to fall under the scope of "smart territories" find themselves confronted with the challenge of establishing systems comprising multiple stakeholders (regional authorities, companies, residents' associations) and coordinating them successfully.

Multiple initiatives are being launched by regional bodies aiming to promote concepts such as "smart cities", "connected cities" and "intelligent cities." They are applied by enterprises employing sophisticated techniques on the scale of entire buildings, neighbourhoods and even cities. These sorts of territorial developments must be examined, and their effects on ways of life and habits of local residents analysed. It is necessary to go beyond scientific discourse - which promotes a new, supposedly "ideal" model - in order to identify the multiple paradoxes that may arise as a result of this model’s implementation. These include disparities between the promises and realities of each achievement, new inequalities that may potentially be brought about by regional transformations, ramifications for personal privacy, and the dependability, availability and security of new networks and facilities.

While a number of colloquiums have been or are currently being organised on the subject, they have rarely suggested an approach that is both critical and interdisciplinary - something which is both difficult and essential to implement. The objective of this event is to encourage exchange and discussion between universities from France and abroad which are working on new territorial objectives, as well as involving local operators and stakeholders eager to share their own experiences and work with specialists in a variety of different scientific fields, in order to gain access to long-term expertise.

2. Discussion Topics

For each of these five topics, contributions are expected from the fields of sciences and technology, urban development, and human and social sciences.

  • Topic 1:"Smart territories": will the use of new technologies lead to changes in society?

Les termes utilisés visant à promouvoir le développement durable territorial en s’appuyant sur les nouvelles technologies peuvent être trompeurs : « smart-cities », « ville numérique », « territoire intelligent »... On s’intéresse ici à l’ensemble des dispositifs technologiques mis en place pour rendre un territoire « intelligent » et on se propose d’analyser l’apport et les limites de ces dispositifs. Il s’agira, à partir d’exemples concrets d’interroger les différents acceptions du concept de « territoires intelligents », les limites de celui-ci et de contribuer à la conception d’une typologie intégrant la variété des dispositifs mis en oeuvre et des échelles auxquels ils sont censés s’appliquer.

  • Topic 2: From pilot schemes to general application: how do we create new regional ecosystems?

    The inherent complexity of new technical procedures that urban planners, companies and regional bodies are now able to mobilise requires the application of appropriate and collaborative performances. This also involves analysing the conditions involved in transferring the "pilot project" to a much wider area. Later on, the same projects may also be transposed to other regions entirely; a process which implies exchanges of experience between towns or regions, as well as careful analysis of the transferability of measures from one territorial context to another. The conditions having led to the success or failure of a given project (in terms of the objectives initially set) will in particular require careful analysis.

  • Topic 3: From systems to "Smart Territories"?

    Brought about jointly by technological, environmental and societal revolutions, the advent of "smart cities", "eco-districts" and "smart territories" is becoming more and more of a reality, especially in terms of innovative alternatives in a number of areas such as transport, habitat, energy, industry, telecommunications and others. A revolution is underway, due notably to advanced technology being developed around ever-increasingly "smart" systems. Interconnected and communicative, these systems are now a part of our daily lives (in our cars, homes, hospitals and communications). In the context of this topic, we will examine the conceptual, methodological, technical and technological dimensions of smart territories. Intelligent transport, eco-mobility, home automation, energy-positive buildings, renewable energy, cloud computing, and connected devices - the aim here will be to analyse the ways in which each of these elements constitutes a key part of the success of smart territories.

  • Topic 4: "Smart territories": what are their limitations in terms of social acceptability?

    Do new measures being trialled (ERDF's Linky counters, or self-service transport facilities, for example) contribute to creating new forms of social tension (such as between project designers and users, or between users themselves)? While the expectations, needs and concerns of populations directly affected by the measures being implemented can at no stage be overlooked, the idea here is to examine the relationship between the expectations of project designers and the ensuing habits of residents, analysing the forms of involvement in which they are willing to participate. As such, the uses of various facilities may also evolve progressively in relation to the objectives which were initially set.

  • Topic 5: "Smart territories" : moving towards new forms of inequality?

    Do new and innovative measures contribute to the creation of new social, generational, or regional inequalities? How can these be identified, and how can they be tackled? Is there a risk of exacerbating social fragmentation via measures intended to contain it, either by creating opposition between densely-populated cities and suburban or rural areas, or perhaps between richer and poorer neighbourhoods? The new opportunities offered by "smart" policies and measures contribute to providing competitive advantages to the areas and districts that support them, and from which they emanate - our aim here will be to analyse the consequences resulting from new disparities currently emerging between different regions and territories.