The future of our cities, we are told, is smart technology. By connecting everyday objects to the internet, we will enable everything from self-driving cars to bins that signal when they need emptying.

It’s a vision that is both futuristic and, frankly, expensive. While individual sensors and internet connections may be relatively cheap, fitting out entire cities with such technology? Not cheap at all.

Which is why it’s so remarkable that a mid-sized European city has been able to turn its entire bus network into a ‘smart’ system in just four weeks and without deploying a single new sensor.


Smart thinking

The French city of Belfort achieved the rapid transformation by bringing together existing data to generate new information. The city got ‘smart’ via data analytics based on information already accessible to planners.

Belfort’s city bus                                                                                   

Data sources such as bus billing, ticketing data and GPS are pulled together by Tata Consultancy Services and Gfi Informatique using TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group’s Intelligent Urban Exchange software. The information generated now allows city officials to make informed decisions to improve services on the city’s five bus routes.