Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France and one the fastest-growing in terms of population growth.
Technological innovation and scientific research were always the city’s strengths and the vision of Toulouse emerging as a ‘smart’ city strongly rely on these pillars. Which comes as no surprise since Toulouse is the home for the European headquarters of the AIRBUS and Intel. CNES Toulouse Space Centre is the largest space centre in Europe. Toulouse positons itself as an ‘Open’ city, aspiring to a digital eco-system targeted at the preservation of the environment and dealing with a growing and aging population.
The recent strategy of metropolitan development in Toulouse is based upon 3 main axes: institutional reinforcement and closer cooperation between different districts of the city with the city’s smartness focused around the centers of scientific research and technological innovation, the social inclusiveness of the urban projects, whereby the city authorities are keen on establishing a constant dialog with its citizens.
By promoting Toulouse as an ‘Open’ Metropole, city authorities have embarked on a policy of wide public participation in urban initiatives. A large number of workshops have been organized for the general public as well as certain population groups and professionals. Toulouse Metropole extensively promotes start-ups and as a result, Toulouse is one of the leading cities in France in the number of Living Labs, Start-up incubators and accelerators. In 2014, Toulouse received the “French Tech” national label, bestowed on the cities that have taken the lead in start-up projects in the digital economy and in innovations
One of the main projects implemented in Toulouse at present is a Smart City Open Métropole master plan which gatheres under its umbrella a number of other urban initiatives and has 5 major ambitions:
- An optimized, simple and fluid mobility
- An adaptable, efficient and breathable metropolis
- An international metropolis anchored in her roots
- A well-living, warm and intergenerational metropolis
- A beautiful, clean and safe metropolis
One of the corner stones of the city’s policy is collaborative work together with various actors (especially citizens). This is best reflected in Le Laboratoire des Usages (Users Laboratory) initiative, where the city administration, the association managing the initiative, start-ups and users come together. Its aim is to “co-construct” a smart city by carrying out various experiments and applying innovative digital solutions that are being created together with their final users’ and therefore answer their needs in the best possible way.
Since 2018, Users Laboratory is organised by Les Imaginations Fertiles. It is an association in the form of a cooperative community-oriented enterprise providing a supportive space for the actors of the social and solidarity economy. Apart from a co-working space it offers an environment for collaborative work between the members resulting in common projects. Struggle to find a suitable location shared with another association – FabLab Artilect, created an unexpected productive ecosystem of actors between the memebers of the two organisations, although their concepts are not quite similar.
FabLab Artilect is the first MIT certified FabLab in France that has been founded in 2009. Its main motto is local production with the help of shared fabrication machines, free workshops and organisation of events to stimulate networking between local actors.
Encouragement of grass root projects like Les Imaginations Fertiles and FabLab Artilect to reinforce local knowledge economy is behind the national law binding cities to open their data since 2016. Toulouse Open Metropole has created Open Data Toulouse Métropole platform in cooperation with territorial actors like member municipalities of Toulouse Métropole, local public transport provider, the Post and the local Tourist Office to provide access to the aggregated urban data for its potential application by various actors towards innovative solutions.