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The rise of the mobile Internet is changing people’s expectations and the way they behave. Towns and cities therefore have an incentive to take advantage of digital technologies as a means of improving access to services, as well as managing them more efficiently. Mobile applications have a key role to play with the emergence of the “smart city”.

Smart cities present real development opportunities for people who design mobile and web apps – provided they understand what is so special about them. In this article, I’d like briefly to summarize some of the challenges facing smart and connected cities. For a more detailed analysis, I recommend this report on smart cities.

Digital technologies go hand-in-hand with cities’ economic growth: the numerous services that properly designed apps can bring increase their appeal. But they are not an end in themselves : an application designed for smart cities must be useful.

Mobility means three essential aims for cities.

1/ Better transport services, so people can get around more easily without having to spend so much time in transit. Real-time information apps about public transport networks or apps to geolocate available parking spaces have become indispensable. Cities can draw on data gathered to optimize the network and the way public transport is structured to more effectively meet users’ actual needs. Sensors can be used to better regulate road traffic or track each vehicle.

 

2/ Optimized energy management: energy is a major cost for cities – which are striving to increase their energy independence. Installing smart lighting systems optimizes the way public lighting works based on people’s movements, and can send back information about pollution, noise levels, and humidity. Moreover, reducing energy consumption aligns with cities’ sustainable development strategies.

 

3/ Simpler relationships with citizens: nowadays, many cities are rolling out apps designed to connect the city to its inhabitants. This way, they can report an incident in a public place, or they can get practical information they need about administrative services or municipal spaces, such as libraries or swimming pools. It’s also possible to develop connected applications which facilitate local democratic processes so that citizens can rate their public services or take part in a public debate.

A wide range of other requirements can also be met by digital technologies, such as security, waste management, local trade, and tourism.

 

Developing an app for a smart city

The potential of smart cities is therefore quite considerable. But developing a dedicated app needs to take a number of specific criteria into account. It is absolutely essential that the app deliver a service that users – or citizens – find useful. It must be intuitive, fast, and straightforward to use.

And for it to be straightforward, it needs first and foremost to be compatible with the French government’s FranceConnect system. Via this information system, users can identify themselves once, and then access all public services. Then, obviously, it needs to deliver a successful user experience – the user experience design rules are the same as for more traditional mobile apps.

As well as being fast, the app has to be open source, while drawing on the very latest technological innovations. So your app’s production platform needs to provide you with whatever technology you want to use to deliver a high-performance app for all existing mobile operating systems – Android, iOS, etc. It also has to future-proof your app by incorporating future technological developments.

The smart city comes up against the challenge of data security. The app has to offer the highest level of data security, allowing you to choose between publishing to the Cloud or to your own servers.

Needless to say, at Wakanda, we can provide you with these components. We have incorporated FranceConnect into our platform so our users can design special applications for public services. We also work with the Adullact platform to strengthen the role played by open source software in government: our platform is open source.

There is a great deal more to our approach. We take the essential “production cost” angle into account when talking about public funds. We have incorporated all of the stages involved in the production of a mobile, web, or hybrid application into one unique development platform. It can be prototyped, developed, and connected to a back-office module and then published. Rationalizing the production stage should not mean compromising on performance: our platform features all the latest technological innovations. You can choose whatever language, framework, or back-office you want.

This way, towns and cities can speed up production time, and then deliver a useful, intuitive, and high-performance app.

Click here to find out more about our platform.