We had the privilege to sit down with Alexandre Gellé, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable City for MEDEF International. He’s coming to the largest smart cities event in North America looking for opportunities to collaborate, representing the weight and expertise of 600 French companies.
SCC: Why was MEDEF International formed?
AG: Following the rapid development of the globalization process, and knowing the capabilities of French expertise in the international markets, MEDEF International, the most representative organization of the French private sector at an international level, was created in 1989 to promote the French companies’ know-how abroad through collective actions that support trade, technologic cooperation, investments and long-term partnerships, especially on emerging and developing markets as well as reconstruction markets.
SCC: What are the mission and goals of MEDEF International and associated member companies?
AG: As a non-profit organization, MEDEF International’s mission and main goal is to help the French private companies strengthen their positions and business relations in foreign countries, along with boosting their exporting operations and internationalization processes.
MEDEF International’s well-established business and government sector network (based on high-level policy and decision-makers, receiving over 180 incoming public and private delegations and leading close to 25 overseas missions every year) serves as a platform for business exchanges, information sharing and pooling experiences. This gives the French private sector a better understanding of the advantages and opportunities as well as the risks and disadvantages on their international development processes. Associated member companies foster improvement in the business climate of the countries where they are established and also promote the French know-how and solutions to the issues faced by companies
SCC: Why is MEDEF International interested in the Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo in Denver, and what does MEDEF International hope to accomplish while there?
AG: MEDEF International is fully engaged in working towards collectively building the cities of tomorrow and facing the urban development challenges of the 21st century. That is why, in 2014, we created a dedicated Sustainable City Task Force that today gathers more than 600 French companies, including world leaders in the sectors of engineering, mobility, public construction, energy, water and waste management on smart cities.
Our participation in the largest event in North America for the smart city community will be an excellent opportunity to share concrete solutions and French best available technologies in terms of smart city. Our aim is to meet strategic urban decision makers, such as mayors, and to partner with local companies. The delegation is willing to discuss smart city realization needs. We will also give the French private offer a chance to better understand the needs of North American decision-makers.
We hope to better understand the opportunities of the North American markets, while also promoting our vision to solve the three fundamental requirements for the cities of tomorrow: to become socially more inclusive, economically more productive and to be more environmentally viable and resilient to climate change.
SCC: MEDEF participates in events and missions around the globe, what are the differences in smart cities IoT adoption / progress between the various regions of the world as compared to France / Europe?
AG: One of the most significant differences is the pace of the progress and implementation on the smart cities IoT. Certain regions of the world are moving forward with IoT faster than others. They have by definition very specific local needs that are fundamentally different and depend of each region’s complex dynamics in terms of social development and indicators, level of bureaucracy, data and IoT protection, government vision, quality of digital infrastructure and macroeconomic levels. All these factors contribute to influence their urban development and smart city progress. Europe is responsible for nearly 40% of the global IoT market for instance. Developed regions will be more inclined to the smart cities IoT because its part of their strategy and priorities.
SCC: What vision does the Sustainable City Task Force of MEDEF International stands for regarding the future of cities? How important is the Smart Cities industry / revolution to this future?
AG: The figures speak for themselves. The 54% of the global population today is urbanized. Within thirty years, this figure will reach 70%, with significant growth in developing countries. The urban population in Africa will triple by the end of 2050. To meet this unprecedented challenge, we have no other choice but to find the best solutions, hand in hand with local governments, by including smart city technologies.
The idea of ”smart” city was introduced by the arrival of digital technology that first connected the individual to information and then individuals to individuals. Today digital technologies and internet has entered the urban space. The internet takes into account the spatial dimension, and vice versa. This is the real revolution. Mechanically, the maturation of the uses has deeply impacted our societies and the urban fact itself.
Therefore, the “smart” city is the city that knows how to interconnect its different information systems while organizing, analyzing and exploiting the colossal volumes of data collected through scalable and resilient systems.
The challenge is to translate them into useful information for, and in the service of, city dwellers, while considering the new uses and behaviors, anticipating technological evolutions and grasping its societal dimensions.
MEDEF International and the French businesses are involved in this revolution by being present on the whole value chain of the urban development and contributing with best available technologies and locally tailored solutions.
So choose Frenchies for smart cities!