Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Is Nice the Smartest City in the World? - Part One

By Steve Beecroft

Smart Technologies Consultant

Consulting Smart Ltd

The French city of Nice, which sits overlooking the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea, was for many years an Italian dominion and became part of France in 1860. France’s fifth largest city Nice is widely believed to be one of the oldest human settlements in the world, so leading from the front and embracing change is embedded deep in the soul of the city.

This background have created a city that seeks continuous development and improvement. So the emergence of a new and innovative technology that delivers efficiencies for the local administration or provide a richer experience for citizens and visitors is almost always explored. Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technologies are providing the city of Nice the opportunity to again look at improving the lives of the people that live and visit the city. These technologies include Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and contactless Integrated Circuit (IC) chips, like those used in contactless payment cards. When coupled with a Human Interface Device (HID) such as a smart card or mobile phone, both of which are common place in a modern thriving environment, thee technologies can provide a large number of benefits to service providers and service users.

Now Nice is fast gaining a reputation of being a leader in the adoption of new technologies and could well be renamed NFC City such is its appetite to exploit the 360̊ benefits of the technology.

Amongst the Smart Technologies industry London is widely acclaimed the title holder for most technically advanced European city, however Nice is now fast catching up. The recent lull in activity in London and the UK’s seemingly reluctance to fully embrace NFC, and the increased momentum that technology is experiencing, has seen Nice overtake London. Well that is the view of many industry consultants, mostly French consultants it has to be said. Nonetheless they may well be right

Let’s explore some of the recent smart card, mobile and NFC technologies that have been deployed in and around.

Nice, Mobile Contactless City, The Multi- application Scheme

Private sector suppliers Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, Crédit Mutuel-CIC and NRJ Mobile have joined forces to offer contactless mobile payment services as part of the “Nice, mobile contactless city” project. Backed by the French government this project builds on the success for similar contactless payment rollouts in both Caen and Strasburg.

The scheme also includes a number of service providers including local transport in the form of busses and trams, banks, museums, restaurants, supermarkets and local retailers. Information dissemination services will also be available at the museum and university campus via smart posters.

Crédit Mutuel-CIC, the first French bank to launch a mobile banking service, are acting as the payment services provider, NRJ Mobile supplying the NFC enabled mobile phones and telecommunications company Orange will provide mobile services. This allows users to pay for goods and services using contactless, tap n’ go, technology in total confidence, thanks to the dedicated Trusted Services Management module that Gemalto are providing Crédit Mutuel-CIC with.

The scheme will be part of the newly created Cityzi brand name. It is based on an open platform and is governed by a set or technical specifications enabling easy participation for local service providers and retailers. Participants in the scheme can publicise the level of their involvement with a full set of marketing material including a set of Cityzi logos as follows:-

Four logos are available in all:

A logo which shows a service or a contactless mobile device is compatible with AFSCM specifications.



A 'ici Cityzi' ('Cityzi here') logo displayed prominently — in doorways and on cashtills, in the same way as card acceptance logos — in all places where Cityzi services can be used.


A target mark, to show consumers where to hold their device when interacting with a Cityzi service via a poster, billboard or other NFC-enabled object.



An icon displayed on the consumer's mobile device, allowing quick access to the list of Cityzi applications stored on the handset


The initiative is being led by Christian Estrosi, Nice City Council’s, deputy mayor, and is designed to interface with Trusted Service Partner platforms in an open environment. It also complies with the latest European Payment Council (EPC) GSMA standards and will enable the secure, over the air communications..

Whilst the Caen and Strasburg initiatives precede the Nice project they are both smart card schemes so this makes the carefully planned and well phase implemented Nice NFC project the first of its type in Europe and almost certainly the largest.

Public Transport

Veolia, the public transport operator for the Nice Côte-d'Azur urban area, and ConnecThings, location based information provider, have partnered to transform the travel experience of commuters, locals and visitors.

Again some central government funding has been made available for the development abd delivery of Veolia’s BPass+ facility which offer a method of storing and renewing a transport ticketing on an NFC phone.

Initially c3,000 residents will be able to pay for tram and bus tickets using NFC phones or via a 2D barcode.

In the second phase of this project du for launch in Summer 2010 ConnecThings are equipping around 1,500 bus and tram stops with NFC technology, allowing transport users to download travel information direct to their NFC enabled mobile phone

Cycle Rides / Walking tours

Nice is said to be the first city in the world where NFC technology will be deployed within a city area for tourist information.

An application launched earlier this year, the NFC Tour Guide of the old city centre, allows visitors to the old city to borrow one of 100 Sagem phones from tourist counters or city offices. Those that already own an NFC enabled mobile are also able to access the service via that handset Alternatively

The city have installed RFID tags with InsideContactless NFC chips to Cityzi branded signposts or walls near a number of attractions, such as museums and galleries. Tourists taking the walking tour of the old city access information about each site they visit based on the tags they wave the phones next to.

It works by the mobile phone detecting the NFC tag, and then downloads the site relevant information from the InsideContactless software running on a server, via the NFC tag. that information at each site also recommends the next site the visitor should visit and provides directions. This helps the visitor to get the most from the walking tour and promotes the old city.

There is even a facility for the visitor to leave feedback on the site or the walking tour in that form of text comments or via the old city’s Facebook site.

To generate some revenue and help fund the maintenance and replacement of the handsets, there is the opportunity for local businesses to advertise their services. By restricting the advertising to local businesses Nice is protecting its investment in regeneration and ensuring the sustainability of the scheme.

Parking

Smart Park, from Monext and VinciPark, provide a richer and more convenient parking experience by implementing cashless and contactless payment, season ticket / membership management, loyalty, GPS functionality and other value added services.


Part Two to follow with NFC developments in Air Travel, Culture, Retail, University and more


Consulting Smart Ltd provide specialist consultancy on the design and deployment of smart card and NFC technologies. For more information on how we can help your organisation realise the full benefits please see www.consultingsmart.co.uk or email us at info@consultingsmart.co.uk

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