Gilles Betis, chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative


Figure 1Welcome to the cities of the 21st century, and welcome to the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative (SCI) and this inaugural issue of the IEEE Smart Cities News Bulletin.

A year ago, on 29-30th October 2013, we were in Guadalajara to kick-off the IEEE Urbanization Challenge, which is today known as the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative.

This two-day meeting in the Mexican city was the result of an idea launched by the IEEE Future Directions Committee, convinced that all technologies, skills, and hands-on experiences would be of great interest if applied to the multitude of cities around the world working daily to offer to their residents a better, more efficient environment, that is more resilient, inclusive, safer and cleaner, and leads to a new era of societal and economic progress.

It was found very quickly that technology by itself, if necessary to scale up to the best solutions, would not be enough to fulfil these goals.

“Smartification,” because it involves transition in human and societal behaviour, is complex and cannot be reduced as a single recipe that would be sufficient to solve any encountered problems. The time horizon to become ‘smart’ is a question of many years, since smartification is not really a matter of implementation of a particular solution in a given time, but is rather a multi-generation agile process.

Year-by-year, objective-by-objective, evaluation-after-evaluation, each city, building on its own legacy environment and with its own resources and talents, will improve the daily life of all its stakeholders.

That’s why the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative is based on two main pillars.

Education first. At universities we are learning technologies, human sciences, architecture, geography, etc., but it is less common that these different knowledge fields are gathered in a multi-disciplinary approach to serve urban development. Moreover, for today’s students to become the experts and the decision-makers of tomorrow, it is crucial that at Master and PhD levels we can support research and teaching that encounters the holistic approach needed in this area.

Then, networking. Local networking, at the level of a municipality, where a project team must be created involving IEEE volunteers, local government representatives, university professors and students, and of course the local industrial and economic fabric, all of them benefiting from the work done. On a global scale, creating a network of cities that will raise their awareness and maturity in the smartification process, sharing experiences, problems and issues, and identifying how to leverage on success, to learn from failures and to scale up from one place to another place.

Dedicated places are then needed to share this combined knowledge and experience. They can be either virtual places on the net, or real places for face-to-face exchanges, during workshops and conferences.

We will select 10 cities in the first stage of this initiative. Guadalajara begun last year as the initial pilot, and two others, Trento in Italy and Wuxi in China, will start at the end of this year or early 2015. Seven other cities will be selected over the next two years. These 10 cities will have a special role in pedagogic material production (papers, courses and MOOCs) and conference organization.

But because the world of smart cities is obviously not limited to those 10 cities, and the variety of cases and experiences is so wide, we are also creating a network of affiliated cities, that are sharing the same empowerment from their governance bodies, IEEE local sections and chapters, universities and economical actors, and paving the way toward a better future for the humanity. The affiliated cities will be able to collaborate and share their own projects, and they will have privileged access to speak during conferences and use IEEE SCI web media channels to present their findings and their outcomes.

Last but not least, thanks to the impressive number of IEEE volunteers who have huge skill and experience, and are internationally recognized for their expertise, we are creating an expert network dedicated to the whole range of knowledge that is applied to the development of smart cities. These are technical experts of course, but we also welcome experts in social sciences, urbanism and architecture – the scope is not limited! They will provide invaluable insights, reviews and advices to the city teams.

This first news bulletin aims to provide news updates on what’s happening in the Initiative, to highlight progress and milestones achieved. It is open to any contributor, member of the Initiative, or guest to provide commentary to raise the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative community awareness. Please share it with your colleagues, friends and whoever is involved or interested in this area. You can also register to receive it regularly, as future issues become available.

We hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback!

Sincerely yours,


Gilles Betis
IEEE Smart Cities Initiative Chair



Gilles BetisGilles Betis leads the Urban Life and Mobility action line of EIT ICT Labs (http://www.eitictlabs.eu/innovation-areas/urban-life-and-mobility/) and is chair of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative, and member of the French IEEE Section, in Region 8. As an engineer in Thales, during more than 20 years, Gilles has been involved in the design of complex systems in IT transportation systems. Holding positions of product line manager, marketing manager and solution leader, he has been constantly involved with prospective, innovation and product design matters. Through a holistic and systemic approach, he always linked up emerging behaviours and societal needs to innovative technological solutions. Gilles is an Engineer graduated in 1987 from Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité, France.


Subscribe to the News Bulletin

Join our free Smart Cities Technical Community and receive our News Bulletin.

Subscribe Now

Current Issue

Past Issues

May/June 2015

March/April 2015

January/February 2015

December 2014