Valérie IssarnyValerie Issarny is currently scientific manager of the Inria@SiliconValley program, hosted by UC Berkeley EECS & CITRIS, where she is researching smart cities. We sat down with her to learn more about her research project. She will be speaking on our upcoming panel at the Open Innovation Club Smart City TechMeeting, Thursday May 26.

What is the focus of your research around smart cities?

About three years ago, we noticed there was a lot of talk about smart cities but it revolved primarily around big company announcements such as IBM or Microsoft or utility activities to save energy and water. At Inria we were asking ourselves what about individuals in all of this and how can they be a central player in a smart city? This is what we have decided to focus on.

At Inria, our work in smart cities looks at:

  • Smart city platforms and system solutions
  • Network architecture and infrastructure protocols
  • New urban services and participation of individuals
  • Pollution
  • Data collection and analysis

Tell us more about urban democracy and healthy cities.

As part of our research on urban software systems, we have been developing the UrbanCivics project on engaging citizens for smarter cities. The UrbanCivics project brings together a multi-disciplinary, transatlantic team of experts working towards a common goal where citizens and governments collaborate in achieving participatory democracy in healthy cities.

The idea is to leverage the widespread adoption of social networking, mobile communication, wearables, sensors, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and data generated by cities that we can access through open data portals to get a real picture of the environment in a city.

The project specifically introduces an urban middleware for collecting and aggregating data from multiple sources and understanding urban nuisance such as air pollution and noise pollution. Municipalities can be better informed and citizens are more aware of their surroundings and change their behavior to reduce pollution. This way everyone becomes a participant with a positive impact. 

Inria urban software systems

How has your presence in Silicon Valley evolved and why has it been important for Inria to be here?

Inria@SiliconValley started in 2011 around scientific collaborations with Stanford and UC Berkeley, with the further support of CITRIS. In 2013 – 2014, we evolved our research to develop innovation partnerships with the local ecosystem. We started working closely with PRIME and the Open Innovation Club to be more in tune with startups and large corporations and the work they are doing here. In 2016, we became a sponsor of NETVA, the accelerator program of the French Consulate in the United States. We are also involved in transatlantic innovation activities of EIT Digital in relation with its SF hub. Last but not least, we have expanded our collaboration beyond Berkeley and Stanford to all of California universities.

Overall, having a physical presence in Silicon Valley has been highly valuable for Inria to develop interactions with the research and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Several collaborations with universities were established directly through this presence. This also provides great value for Inria spinoffs; we can give them more insights and local connections and strengthen potential partnerships in the US.

For more information, visit Inria@SiliconValley