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Smart city, Smart station, Smart reflection on the digitization of territories

Let’s take a moment for a Smart reflection on the digitization of territories

A few days ago, Montgenèvre launched a large-scale project in collaboration with the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region and the Hautes Alpes department . In charge of the project, this is an opportunity for me to take stock of a theme that is certainly “trendy” but above all necessary for the future of tourist destinations.

Entitled Smart Station, it aims to provide the oldest resort with the means to respond to changes in customer behavior during their stay cycle, but also in terms of working methods within the resort’s services.


From the 1980s, IT moved into the professional and personal world, computers became widespread and became an essential productivity tool in most professions. At the end of the 90s, it was the turn of the Internet to become more democratic, to arrive in homes and businesses all over the world. We can talk about the globalization of information, but above all it is a revolution in terms of exchange and speed of data transfer that is taking place. Computer science knows Moore’s law, an engineer at Intel, which relates to the evolution of computer power and the complexity of computer hardware, which is gradually becoming widespread in the exchange rate of data flows for the Internet.

But with all this, customer behaviors and marketing methods are changing. Online shopping took its first steps in 1994 in the United States and websites multiplied and customers demanded faster speeds. From the old 56k modem that sounded like a telephone line to fiber optics, from fax to email, the world of telecommunications has changed in twenty years and so have customer habits.

But these evolutions had layers, one cannot see the Internet without thinking of a data library. The great computer theorists will even give a name to these different layers. Dale Dougherty from O’Reilly, a computer book publishing company in 2003 will talk about Web 2.0 to discuss the evolution of the Web towards interactivity through an internal complexification of the technology but allowing more ease of use . This is the social Web, which has become widespread with the phenomenon of blogs, and finally with social networks.

This will be followed by the futuristic notion of Web 3.0, which tends to develop a certain number of tools and services making it possible to meet increasingly strong needs on the part of Internet users. Some authors insist on the collaborative nature of Internet 3.0. This is the case of Rudy Provoost who makes the analogy between energy and the digital economy: “1.0 was the first age of the internet, the reception of information; 2.0 is content sharing; and 3.0 is the next step with the Internet of Things. Applied to energy, this translates as follows. Energy 1.0 is the supply of energy; 2.0 is smart distribution, we’re getting there; and 3.0 is when consumers become masters of their own energy. »

All these data libraries have storage needs, so this is the role of databases. But in twenty years, each structure doing its part, has accumulated a certain amount of data disseminated in its professional ecosystem. It is therefore now necessary to standardize all this data in order to optimize the work efficiency of the operators and make it possible to provide finer information to the public or to business experts.

In the age of Web 3.0, tourism is also undergoing a revolution under the influence of start-ups which are inventing new applications and innovative services dedicated to both individuals and professionals. Tourism is indeed one of the sectors that has been most strongly impacted by the evolution of tools, uses and digital content. A distinction is now made between e-tourism (tourism and the web), m-tourism (mobile tourism via smartphones or tablets) and social tourism (the use of social networks for tourism). Today, almost eight out of ten tourists prepare their holidays on the Internet, and one out of three stays behind their screen to buy their stay. Faced with digital evolution, tourism professionals have no choice but to adapt.
Digital: a factor of attractiveness for the territories
Tourism represents one of the major forces of attractiveness of the territories and, consequently, a powerful lever of their economic development. It is also a sector where information and communication technologies (ICT) play a decisive role. Digital uses are multiplying and giving rise to new practices, new needs and new modes of consumption.
Tourism is no longer experienced as before.
To remain competitive, tourism players must therefore adopt a proactive attitude towards digital technology. They must interest, satisfy, to make tourists want to promote their destination: in short, create a link! This is one of the advantages of digital which invites you to travel, makes the visit attractive, and simplifies life for the tourist: a very wide range of possibilities! According to the DGCIS, the evolution of digital tourism can be summed up in one term: “SO-LO-MO”: SO cial: From now on, the tourist wishes to participate actively in the promotion of a tourist product and to become an ambassador for it in his community,LO cal: What to do, where I am, when I am there? The tourist offer, geolocated, must be accessible and consumable immediately, MO bile: Exploit all the functionalities of the mobile in order to facilitate travel, increase the consumption of tourist products and enrich the on-site experience.

Laurianne Le Paih in the Journal du Net – June 2014

Joël Gayet, Founder of the Attractiveness and New Territorial Marketing Chair at the Institute of Public Management and Territorial Governance, says on the subject:

“It is absolutely necessary to approach tourism marketing, at least at its strategic level, by means of transversality, and today this bias is in the process of imposing itself everywhere. Tourism is more and more integrated into strategies The context in which tourist destinations find themselves has completely changed in a few years: explosion of supply and hyper-competition (supply multiplied by three according to the WTO by 2025 when demand will be multiplied by two), slowdown in consumption, acceleration of crises, climatic and ecological problems, rise of metropolises, lower budgets of local authorities, individualization, expectations of meaning and search for strong emotional experiences of customers and of course advent of the Internet, social networks, mobility tools and data leading in particular to a seizure of power by customers but also by citizens and employees. Basically the relationship with the customer, but also with the citizen, has completely changed and this is the essential point. The best in the world have not simply evolved their marketing, they have flipped the table to adapt to this new context leading to new practices, new organizations and new marketing models. »

This is where the need for the Smart Station project arises, cross-functionality.

“For us, the smart station is first of all the pooling of all the most diversified information elements, in order to better manage the operation of the services that constitute the Municipality, Technical Services, Lifts Mechanical and Tourist Office. It is then their most judicious reassembly in order to make them available to permanent, seasonal workers and customers. In addition to common referents, they will be returned to them, according to their needs in order to allow the best conditions of life and holiday leisure. Thus, we are thinking of strengthening our economic and social activity in our territory while making our tourist offer and its competitive dimension more excellent”

Guy HERMITTE – Mayor of Montgenèvre

The Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region launched a program of general interest around Tourism in 2015 with a simple observation, With its 31 million tourists per year, its 25,000 companies and its 18 billion euros in annual resources, the tourist economy of the PACA region occupies a leading position thanks in particular to the three major destinations of international renown: Provence, the Alps and the Côte d’Azur.

The region has to face ever stronger and more aggressive competition both at the global level and at the European level.

Visitors have increasingly specific requests before, during and after their stay and wish to be able to book all the services chosen in one click.

In terms of digital, the region has to deal with a great heterogeneity of databases.

The regional challenges in terms of the digitization of Tourism are then posed:

  • Strengthen the attractiveness of the territory to regain market share.
  • Respond to digital challenges through the deployment of the interregional network that will qualify and share data while optimizing their distribution.
  • It is necessary to adapt the websites to the new orientations (entries by center of interest and by typology).
  • It will be necessary to define a shared strategy around 4 major subjects: customer relationship management, digital transition of tourism professionals, online booking and access to transport data.
  • The network of the territory around strong infra-regional tourist destinations, connected, exemplary and backed by the three major umbrella brands (Provence brand, Côte d’Azur brand and Alpes brand) is a major challenge for the PACA region to be able to offer a rich and diversified offer. , visible and efficient.
  • Aim for smart destinations taking into account the needs and specificities of each territory.

With the Smart Station project, Montgenèvre is a pilot in the approach at the level of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Region and has as its leitmotiv to adapt local administration to improve its efficiency, improve the quality of life and urban attractiveness. , allowing mobility and limiting stress and congestion. But beyond that, there is an important fact for the future of the destination, by increasing the environmental performance of the territory and bringing together all the actors (socio-professionals, institutions, companies and inhabitants) to build and share a project of quality digital tourist destination.

The smart city, or “smart city”, is a new way of thinking about the city, the urban service and the interaction of its various actors (administration, inhabitants, businesses). To meet the challenges of the city of tomorrow, the smart city is developing digital technology in urban services to make the city more efficient, experimenting with new public-private collaborations to increase economic benefits and involving residents in the “production” of the city.

The same is true for mountain resorts whose project will be called a smart resort.

The smart station thus goes beyond a management of the urban service historically organized in “silos” to favor a network approach, in which the use of digital resources becomes essential.

Failing to plagiarize solutions applicable in the city, it is up to us to imagine and use them to build the “Smart Station” of Montgenèvre.

The use of new technologies and data is a prerequisite for any “smart city” logic. In our station, each entity has information that translates, not only its know-how, but also a canvas of communication opening on an international offer of information and marketing.

Applied to public services, digitization should make it possible to improve local public policy and ideally at a lower cost. This is what the station hopes for, knowing that beyond what is public policy, it is necessary, in particular, to take into account all the background information that should be relayed in order to perfect knowledge of the site and its potential, as well as to promote the commercial exchanges which the tourist economy so badly needs.

The first step is to entrust the various management committees of the public entities of Montgenèvre with the pooling of the evaluation of the costs and the benefits of the steps and experiences of the smart station. The same will apply to the sharing of public resources to multiply the conditions of use and the results of savings expected by our fellow citizens, their elected representatives and consequently, the customers who must also find their way around the prices. Rely on this expertise to carry out general reviews of local public policies in order to identify and eliminate duplication rendered useless by information and communication technologies.

Integrate all local services for businesses and residents, in the form of a digital platform embodying the logic of the one-stop shop.

  • Establish an “observatory of the needs of the resort and its populations” (permanent staff, local seasonal workers, displaced seasonal workers, secondary residents, customers of all kinds and passing travellers, etc.) to build the smart resort village on uses rather than technology alone.
  • Participate in a network of experiments made up of other stations, reputed to be intelligent, in order to discuss best practices, with a view to sharing them.
  • Facilitate access to public and private services through better information.
  • Adapt local public services to the rhythms and working hours of employees.
  • Increase the number of smart urban developments and attractive and modern public spaces (widespread Wi-Fi, digital panels and many other tools…).
  • Use the resources offered by new technologies at the service of citizens and tourists.
  • Optimize travel (shuttle network – bicycle travel – carpooling) and limit occasional congestion, especially on particularly busy weekends.
  • Applications to make life easier for users in their travels, diversification of the transport offer, new uses, use of sensors and indicators.
  • Privilege the logic of incubation to that of subsidizing entrepreneurial projects. The aim is to attract and develop human capital by developing co-working spaces and incubators, new places for disseminating and sharing knowledge.
  • Promote collaboration between stakeholders, start-ups and universities by encouraging public companies to create incubators.
  • Ensure the conditions for deploying new business models for the station’s services.

In a logic of “smart city”, the municipality and its companies concerned are concerned with forging links both on the French side and on the Italian side to test new partnerships, more adapted to the challenges they face today while offering better risk allocation. They also contribute to listening to certain innovative companies. But in a digitalizing world, attention must also be paid to our security, so it is important to reduce the digital divide by implementing a “digital inclusion clause” in contracts with smart station operators. . To ensure the proper training of municipal agents and elected officials in new technologies and to protect themselves against potential cyberattacks. Vigilance must be constant, both when installing the networks and during their maintenance. It is also necessary to guard against the vulnerability of the digital networks of the “intelligent station” by drawing inspiration from the water or gas networks, but also from artificial snow, to imagine meshes making it possible to maintain a minimum level of service in case of failure.

“A territory of innovation and experimentation, the mountain must in no case fall behind, otherwise it will increase the growing inequalities between the metropolitan areas and the rural areas that have to face it. Desertification and two-speed public transport accessibility. Taking into account the digital revolution, in the face of the considerable challenges it brings, requires us to combine our efforts and unite all our energies.

Guy Hermitte, Mayor of Montgenèvre


“The new territorial marketing models are based on integrated marketing (synergy between sectors, actors and actions), centered on excellence, innovation and shared brands as well as a direct and personalized relationship between territory with all private actors, prospects and customers. Thanks to digital technology, efficient operators have a much better knowledge of the customer than before. As for the inhabitants, they carry and embody the identity of the territory. In the South-West , there is one out of two sentences concerning the welcome that ends with “with pleasure”. So who should we highlight internationally? Probably not those who do not speak English or who have rooms in hotels that are too small, for example. There is no other solution than to have a strategy based on excellence. To do this, we must do what the sectors of industry and research do, by creating sectors or centers of excellence that highlight before exclusively the best and encourage the less good to improve. This requires a strong and co-shared political discourse by the leading private actors who are ready to finance these strategies.”

Joël Gayet, Founder of the Attractiveness and New Territorial Marketing Chair at the Institute of Public Management and Territorial Governance

He adds,

“Digital is central. It has brought new means of course, but it is in the process of transforming marketing. San Francisco has just launched a system that allows the town hall to manage and respond, almost live, to all comments posted about the city. By extrapolating, it is quite easy to imagine how digital technology will disrupt tourism consumption and increase average spending. If we are able to identify that a tourist loves chocolate and we send him information indicating the address where the inhabitants of the neighborhood go to buy their chocolates, we are sure that the tourist will go there. Personalized marketing centered on the customer experience powered by ambassadors and friends of the territory will be the heart of tomorrow’s marketing. This is why one of the major challenges is to master data. »

The conclusion on this theme has already been said, I could add nothing more interesting than this last sentence from Joel Gayet. However, this vast has just started and I am convinced of its merits.

We will see in a few years, the impact of this in-depth transformation on the economic, social and environmental results within the territory of Montgenèvre.

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