The Pandemic situation has shown how ill-equipped our cities are when it comes to unexpected and severe viral infections. People were not ready to face difficulties caused by COVID-19. Moreover, even after an efficient vaccine has been administered, we won’t see life how we got used to it. Nevertheless, thanks to Smart City solutions, which will be implemented in Paris and the rest of smart cities in the nearest future, we have a chance to deal with the Coronavirus consequences and prevent similar global events.
1. Smart Transportation
The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the current urban resilience is not efficient enough for supporting public health priorities. To reach this target, the Paris government will implement the Smart Transport Program, which implies:
- sustainable economic development with more job creation;
- creation of a more efficient transport system;
- emissions of transport-related greenhouse gases reduction;
- promotion of healthy and safe transportation modes;
- integration of an efficient transport system into urban planning.
The Paris Declaration “City in Motion: People First,” adopted at the fourth PEP meeting, highlights that citizens must be placed at the center for such decisions. Once the emphasis is made on people, the local governments will start focusing on creating safe and green transport accessible to all residents. This decision won’t only strengthen the overall public health system but would also establish an excellent environmental condition for everyone to lead a healthy life. Thus, smart transportation is the first and probably most crucial solution Paris will start implementing during COVID-19.
2. The “Hyper-Proximity” Plan
COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in lockdowns in different countries and cities. Significant road traffic reductions have been observed during the Coronavirus period, so the local governments have questioned themselves on establishing mobility within Paris. Of course, a large increase in walking and cycling has taken place. However, many Parisians had started to use private cars to travel the city, which, in turn, caused environmental and health impacts. For this reason, the local authorities decided to implement the “hyper-proximity” plan – the project that eases the use of transportation infrastructure.
The Paris Mayor represented the “La Ville Du Quart d’Heure” or “the 15-minute” city program, which can be the key to reducing the carbon footprint and increasing the quality of life. This plan encompasses remaking the city following the subsequent principles:
- and ubiquity.
Thus, according to this project, Paris areas will be represented as self-sufficient communities with amenities nearby. Plus, it won’t take the locals longer than 15 minutes to get to work, take their children to school, go food-shopping or go for a walk to the park. As a result, the city will become cleaner and pedestrian-friendlier. Besides, this program will reduce traffic and stress, which the residents face in the context of the COVID-19 lockdown.
3. Smart Urban and Territorial Planning
According to official figures, more than 90% of all COVID-19 disease cases reported in urban areas. As a result, the authorities of big cities like Paris had to launch lockdowns causing significant disruption to city governments and businesses. Such measures can potentially change urban development dynamics, as cities have already seen unprecedented impacts from Coronavirus.
The Pandemic situation has become a trigger for strengthening urban and territorial planning, which is an excellent solution in preventing local government revenue losses. This Smart City solution implies developing effective city-region strategies to provide locals with affordable housing and everything else necessary for comfortable living. Besides, such planning allows local governments to reverse car-dependent urban sprawl.
During and after COVID-19, the poor residents of Paris have faced a lack of tenure security. The local government will support residents, owners, and renters financially and provide shelters for people left without housing for short-term measures to tackle this issue. As the long-term solution to this problem, Paris’s government will structure public funding allocated for affordable housing.
4. Climate and Environmental Program
Another innovation the government of Paris is going to implement in the nearest future is a climate and environmental program. The city is a core to ecological management, therefore, it requires innovative Smart City solutions to solve issues like air pollution, waste management, environmental protection, etc.
Thus, Paris has committed to cut net GHG emissions by 2050 to be prepared for the climate change consequences and events associated with it. The city ranks among the Smart Cities which engage with 100% renewable energy targets, including electricity, heating, and cooling. This idea of reaching 100 climate-neutral towns is expected to be achieved by 2030, so the Paris government has already been solving climate neutrality questions in a wide range of areas that include:
- changing energy infrastructure and its supply structure;
- implementing energy-efficient municipal services like smart street lighting;
- increasing the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, both housing and public;
- minimizing the carbon footprint of industries;
- encouraging zero-waste and eco-friendly consumption and lifestyle.
Thus, reducing energy demand is a no-regret solution in dealing with post-COVID issues.
5. Smart Financial Mobilization
With the losses in Paris government revenue in 2020 due to COVID-19 and further impacts of the economic crisis that will be obtained into 2021 and 2022, the local authorities decided to implement the Smart Financial Mobilization plan. The city government is going to reconsider the existing relationship between health and urban finance for adopting new effective spending schemes.
It turned out the emergency financial support of the region fell short of reaching the urban population. However, the locals living in areas play a crucial role in driving the city’s local economy by supplying essential services during the pandemic. Therefore, now it’s important to allocate more funding to them.
6. Equitable Access to Water and Health
According to the increase in the number of homeless people that have been happening in Paris during the Pandemic period, the local government has to take measures to solve this issue shortly. Otherwise, all these people (around 140,000) have to face a lack of water and sanitation access. The local municipalities have to achieve an adequate supply of safe drinking water and sanitation for everyone.
Paris will provide adequate protection of human health and water resources by establishing local targets for drinking water quality and discharges’ quality. This Smart City solution must be implemented till 2030 under the Protocol.
7. Digital Revolution
The digital revolution, which is caused by the rapid expansion of digital technologies, has changed many social life domains for the best. Even the COVID-19 lockdown has showcased how far digital transformation has extended within our society. Therefore, the Paris government decided to adopt a range of digital applications to support innovative water management, intelligent transport systems, energy, and waste management.
The city-related apps will also include the following features:
- Urban mobility (parking apps, car-sharing apps, and bike-sharing apps).
- Financial services (mobile banking apps).
- E-governance (apps for receiving government services or different social initiatives).
- Shopping and delivery apps.
- Health services apps.
- Short-term rentals (booking apps).
The digital revolution can undoubtedly risk privacy concerns, as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused mass surveillance by the local government. However, the situations like this require authorities to experiment with the ways of social policy formulation. And this Smart City solution is perfect for mitigating adverse post-COVID effects and dispatching investment into human assets.