Chronicle | Emmanuel Natchitz: ICT City needs competent specialists

Making life easier in the city with new methods? Since September 2010, it is the goal of the new master specialized URBANTIC launched by the School of Engineering of the city of Paris (E.I.V.P.) soon joined by the Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech. A training based on an observation: new knowledge can improve the quality of life in the city. Prospective chronicle.

Article published in the architect's Mail (11-05-2011): behind advanced techniques, already operational in multiple fields, are new skills that Allow for the compatibility of energy savings, transport and merchandise optimization, the simplification of tedious tasks, the best intergenerational collaboration, the reduction of the ecological footprint, the Better communication between individuals and between groups, improving the health status of urban people, etc. Emmanuel Natchitz is one of the development professionals who see far away. He has been a member of the School of Engineering of the city of Paris (E.I.V.P.) URBANTIC, a training strongly anchored in the reality of professional life, open to those who want to know better, experience and value this new data. The city of information and communication technologies is already a reality; Emmanuel Natchitz proposes to train his new actors. Jean Magerand, Claire Bailly: The URBANTIC specialized Master was launched last September. What presided over the introduction of this new training? Emmanuel Natchitz: This training was created on the basis of the fact that today the city is being managed in a siloed way: transport, flow networks, waste management, natural or technological risk taking into account, etc. are treated separately while existing digital tools would support these aspects in a global way. Today, the issue is the treatment and the intelligent and transversal use of the enormous mass of information available. Tools exist but, for now, everyone works in their corner without ever making them accessible. Developing a website, everyone can do it but build an intelligent site that really serves and integrate it into a collaborative logic is something else. One realizes that in this field of thought, there are active and competent people because they came out of their strict professional domain by saying "hey, I would like to go and see what happens to the neighbour". In software it is the same: a software becomes interesting when the designer understands why it is asked to make a software. In the fields of virtual reality, 3d mockup, etc., there is a lot to do. These tools are democratized by free uses while professionals have not integrated them into their practice. A GIS query under Google Maps everyone does it, except that no one knows it is a GIS search. On the other hand, if you open a GIS software, no one knows how to do it. Why are these tools, which are finally validated, not being used? The geo-portal is very little used while Google is very much. Yet the first one gives much more reliable, verified information. When you go to small communities, they usually only have the least reliable source of information. There are still many local authorities who, if they find this concept of integration very well, prefer to wait before embarking. But now we have to take into account the speed of technology evolution. If we think about the phones of ten years ago, it is clear that they have nothing to do with today's phones. To locate in the city for example, information is very difficult to access, while on the slightest advertisement there is a flashcode… In the city, it would be enough a plan that turns according to the position of the person, with a webcam that shows ' in that direction you go by that ', etc. While the current plans are very difficult to read for many people. How was this training born? The E.I.V.P. is at the origin of this specialized master. The Paris Tech Bridge School quickly joined us. This programme is based on a synthesis of different needs expressed both by local authorities and by service providers and user associations. We met many actors in the city and tried to understand their expectations and needs. This specialized master is similar to the PIA, the approach of urban engineering to the school is open to the world. We train specialists able to understand the generalities of the city (technicality, sociology of the city, transport, mobility etc.). It represents the links between urban management needs and openness to new uses. Who is this training for? T02 (@ D.R.) _ S. JPGhis training is a specialized master. It is directed either to people who have just completed a master's degree or to those people in continuing education or professional retraining who realize in their activity that there are interesting leads in these areas. Our students are architects, engineers, people working for communities. But we are looking for a mix: There are also places for people who do not have an urban training but who have developed a sensibility on the urban, as can be done by computer scientists or sociologists who, moreover, bring a Technical gain. The goal is to work on the interface between TIC and city. We have a number of partners who are companies. There is no real funding agreement-it is a partnership agreement-where we bring skills and reflections on the topic they need. Some of the students manage to finance all or part of their training through the remuneration of their work in the workplace. In terms of content, is it a technical training or rather a general education? The training is articulated between a semester of course and a semester in the company, which gives rise to the writing of the professional thesis. The course semester is structured by a red thread, the ' tutored ' project which is followed by professionals. Each student develops a subject in agreement with these professionals and the pedagogical team. The first courses are used to provide a common basis for students on what the city is, in relation to the different horizons and the multiple approaches that people present within the same promotion. Among the courses, an important place is left to the digital tools: 3d model, GIS, modeling, geolocation, geo-decision, databases, etc. What is interesting in this program is the multi-sectoral and multi-cultural aspect. A tool is only valid if you know how to use it and if you also know why to use it. With ICT, the tool that can be put in place participates in the decision support for the policies, assistance in the implementation of the concrete management of the project, in the passage owner/Master of work/execution. But why stop there? It could also be opened to the users of the city. For example, if you make a 3d digital model, you will use it for the political decision, the public consultation, the calculation models, the project management. But we can go further and make it public so that people find it, use it in navigation to go from point A to point B other than from the indications that are on the street. All of this is already in common tools like ' Google Street Mapper ', etc. But no one has a hand on it; It is a multinational company that manages this kind of tool. While a territorial community, with the assembly of all this information, could give access to people so that they could know, for example to go to the crèche, what is the nearest station or if they can park the car and where , that they can evaluate the duration of the journey in real time. Today we have smartphones that allow to download a lot of applications, why not make available this type of information whose veracity can enrich the knowledge and the practice of the public? Some people consider the meaning of information from decision makers to the user, but it is permissible to think differently. The user can see a number of mismanners on the public space when it moves. Why could he not bring the information up, by locating it in a digital model? We can have very sophisticated verification and control systems by Geolocation. Today these tools exist, whether this information is very simple or very sophisticated. In Geneva, for example, there are already digital management modes: When any project is put in place, the information is delivered in the field in a standardized format. When the project is finished, the information completed and integrated directly is delivered again. There are other applications to be developed, in particular mobility aid. For people with reduced mobility, Metro stations are equipped, others not. It is very expensive and complicated to equip all stations. Why not give information that tells people "if you have problems walking, you can take such a bus, then such a subway and arrive at your destination without a problem"? We could come up with a globalisation of information that is not just punctual. People who are evolving in the city are also able to bring information. If the interest of these tools is the collection of information, it requires treatments, specializations, skills in reintegration into professional systems. The interest of the program we offer is that it will train people who will themselves be proposing new tools and collaborative help platforms showing the ability to interact in both directions. Indeed, it is not only situations where the decision maker orders and then after everyone executes because people are part of the city; Take carpooling systems, etc. For now, all this is based on private initiatives: someone decides to put online such information on his site. Communities could do that as well. It should even be foreseen from the outset. What is important is openness to other areas of culture and other areas of expertise. Even if, on graduation, we are not able to do everything, at least we will have an open mind to see what can be done, what is the right interlocutor, how to discuss with him in an intelligent way. Our goal is to train people who are able to make life easier in the city with all the new methods. Interview by Jean Magerand and Claire Bailly