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France's Montpellier District Turns To IBM To Help Build City Of The Future

ARMONK, N.Y., March 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the Montpellier District of France signed an agreement to create an urban living laboratory to design new urban services for residents and support the economic development goals of local leaders.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO )

The urban laboratory will initially focus on improving information sharing within the district, improving water management, transportation, emergency management and mobile commerce in Montpellier's EcoCite zone, an area that will serve as a living laboratory where these technologies can be piloted among local agencies, business and residents. Together IBM and the Universities of Montpellier 1 and 2, and IDATE, an institute focused on the digital economy, will collect and analyze data and create an open platform to openly share data.

"People are at the heart of creating smarter cities and the city of tomorrow will be shaped by combining human intelligence, business expertise and urban services," said Jean-Pierre Moure, Montpellier Agglomeration President. "We plan to position Montpellier as a metropolis with a pan-European and international dimension. We must rise to our full potential in partnership with other stakeholders such as IBM, the Montpellier universities and local business."

The initial projects underway in the EcoCite Zone include the collection of data and creation of initial tools and applications to:

  • Provide collaborative technology to share information among city departments and agencies and deliver new urban services to citizens
  • Encourage citizens to use public transit or alternative transportation through the use of mobile-based real-time transportation information 
  • Build smarter water systems to monitor consumption, prevent the risk of flooding and integrate the management of local water
  • Create an emergency operations management center to provide local officials real-time insight for events and help predict possible threats
  • Mobile technology to enable citizens to interact with local merchants and public services

At the heart of the project is an intelligent dashboard from IBM that provides visibility into information from across the district, allowing massive amounts of data to be accessed and shared in new ways. The technology is hosted in the first public cloud data center in IBM France. The cloud-based technology will be used to access information across all city agencies and departments to make smarter decisions, to establish patterns in order to anticipate problems, and minimize the impact of disruptions to city services and operations. In the future, the open data platform will be accessible by regional business interested in creating new services.

"The Montpellier District is creating a platform for open innovation upon which to build a Smarter City," said Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, vice president, IBM Smarter Cities Europe. "The EcoCite project is a great example of how a city with vision and strong leadership is preparing for the future and becoming more economically competitive, making Montpellier a better place to live."

Later this year, a demonstration center will be opened at the Montpellier District's international office center to test the new services and get residents involved in the project. By the end of 2015, the Montpellier District plans to open an operations center in the heart of EcoCite.

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