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In March 2014, Paris made the headline for
several days as “the most polluted city in the world,” more than cities like
Beijing or Zabol, which usually occupy the top of the chart. The chronic
pollution peaks faced by Paris draw attention to its health and economic
consequences. Although air pollution is due to a combination of pollutants with
complex stakeholder, attention was called on the problem cars and
transportation. So much so that diesel car from before 2005 will be banned in
2019 and all combustion engine definitely exclude from the capital in 2030. If
the inhabitants will no longer use cars, it is time to really change the way we
think about public transportation.

Cities of the future are being developed
around us, leading to more efficiencies and conveniences, and listening to the
needs of their residents. And for cities to improve and face the future, they
must become smart. A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of
electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to
manage assets and resources efficiently.  

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The
problem

 

Paris is increasingly
affected by a level of pollution well above the safety limit that has been set
by the World Health Organization. The last pollution peak, that happened only a month ago, on February
11, has proved again that the current situation is not sustainable for the
Parisian population, whose quality of life has worsened recent years. Every
day, 300.000 Parisians were exposed to levels of pollution above official
limits. These particles cause many health damages: indeed, breathing extremely toxic
air has been linked to an increased risk of asthma, heart disease, respiratory
infection, and cancer of the bronchus, trachea and lung.

Particulate
matter also affect the environment, degrading buildings and influencing the
climate. Indirectly, they are thought to have immense costs in healthcare,
productivity losses, agricultural losses, and tourism losses.  Physically, they are manifest through haze,
decreasing the visibility in the city. There might also be a synergy at play
with climate change raising the average temperature in Paris. Warm weather with
little or no wind is particularly susceptible to a pollution peak. A warm lid
over Paris effectively prevents the particulates from dispersing. Climate
changes reinforces the dangers posed by air pollution.

Political and economic aspects of
the situation

 

Diesel use has
been encouraged in France because it is more fuel-efficient than gasoline. It
produces less CO2 emissions but emits nitrogen oxides that react with sunlight
to produce fine soot particles that cause bronchial irritation and cancer.  Only after the World Health Organization
classified diesel fumes as carcinogenic in 2012 did a widespread awareness of
diesel’s health consequences develop. After having encouraged the use of diesel
for decades for economic and environmental reasons, it is difficult for the
French government to turn around, especially when most the population owns a
diesel vehicle. Moreover, no one would voluntarily take part in improving the
quality of the air if other benefit from it. Despite a sharp decrease in
particulate matter emissions in the past 15 to 20 years, due mostly to
technological improvements and renewal of equipment, concentrations have stayed
stable. Parisians and inhabitants of the suburbs might be reluctant to
undertake harsher efforts whose results are dubious.

Paris Already
banned cars registered before January 1 in the capital from driving between 8
am and 8 pm. Cars registered before1997 will soon be joined by models bearing
the vignette “Crit’Air 4” and diesel vehicles from 2001 to 2005. This decision
by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is set to be the first of a wider range of policy. She
also recalled, that a “citizen vote” would be organized regarding the
city’s climate plan and the end of the thermal vehicles by 2030. “Twelve
years, this allows to project and prepare. No one is caught off guard “.

No one wants to
be the only one to refrain from polluting and pay a double cost: having to find
new means of transportation, heating and construction while still breathing in
the polluted air if nobody else acts. It is in everyone best interest to keep
clean air at or below the carrying capacity, but this incites everybody to free
ride on the potential efforts of others without undertaking any action himself
or herself. Identical to a prisoner dilemma, collaboration would be more
efficient in general, but the individualistic state of mind conducts to a Nash
equilibrium. The logical solution would be to propose a free transportation system
provided by the state.

Policies in place

 

The current
regulatory situation is complicated, because different levels of authority are
involved; there are European, national and local regulations, which sometimes
have been added on top of each other in an inefficient and confusing way.

Moreover, some of them are short-term
measures used during pollution peaks while others are permanent regulations
to improve the situation on the long term. Short-term measures are mostly the
responsibility of local authorities. They include a mandatory reduction in
cars’ speed in and around Paris during pollution peaks and the installation of
alternate circulation, whereby cars can only be used on certain days, depending
on their plate. These are command and control regulations since they enact a
rule whose violation is punished by a fine. Many of the approaches that have
been used until now have been temporary or short-term, and have focused on
local sources of the problem. It might be because of political reasons: these
measures are more visible and give the impression that the government is acting
without requiring structural changes in the economy or important technological investments.

However, it also makes them less efficient.  

 

 

What to do?

 

An effective
approach to pollution would be to use subsidies that make public transportation free in order to fight one of the worst
sources of particulate matter emissions: road traffic. Free public transports encourage
drivers to use more sustainable transportation modes by removing the cost
barrier. This should be combined with a modernization
and extension of the current public transport network, which might be much
more successful in reducing road traffic.

Given that 50 % of particulate
emission comes from car traffic, the unique goal of this policy would be to create
a shift from use of cars to public transports, thus lowering the pollution
emission. The macro-control would be obtained, and
the modernization would be done with previously gained knowledge on the way the
city population moves in the city. A margin of error would be left since the
free public transport is only an incentive for people to use them: it is not an
obligation. There are no clear target number to be obtained through this
policy, and a more data could be used to improve the system. The level of
pollution will only decrease.  The historical starting point can be used as an advantage,
Paris was never designed for cars, and has a great metro system. France does
not have a “car culture” and people usually just go with the most convenient
means of transportation, which will hopefully be public transports due to this
policy. This policy would adapt to changing condition because the
government can constantly monitor the movement of the habitants and additional
information would then be available. Thus, the transportation network can be
constantly improved and evolve with the city.

1.    
Use of data

Data issued from
the usage of public transportation can be anonymized and used to produce maps
showing when and where people are traveling, giving both a far more accurate
overall picture, as well as allowing more granular analysis at the level of individual
journeys, than was possible before. As a large proportion of Paris journeys
involve more than one method of transport, this level of analysis was not
possible in the days when tickets were purchased from different services, in
cash, for each individual leg of the journey.

For example, the metro, passengers are used to “checking out
and checking in” – tickets are validated (by automatic barriers) at the start
and end of a journey. However, on buses, passengers simply check in.

Traditionally tickets were purchased from the bus driver or inspector for a set
fee per journey. There is no mechanism for recording where a passenger leaves
the bus and ends their journey – and implementing one would have been
impossible without creating an inconvenience to the customer. So, can we use
Big Data to infer where someone exited? We know where the bus is, because we
have location data and we have data for entry, what we do next is look at where
the next tap is. If we see the next tap follows shortly after and is at the
entry to a tube station, we know we are dealing with one long journey using bus
and metro. This permit to understand how crowded a particular bus or range of
buses are at a certain time, and to plan interchanges, to minimize walk times. We
can also use big data to study origin-destination pairs at different levels and
thus optimize the transfer times if big chunk of population faces the same “inefficiency”

2.    
Collaboration between the citizen and the city

The citizens must be involved in the city mapping we must therefore promote the acquisition of
sensors by citizens and the development of tools for feedback and analysis of
information. *****give information to the user ********

collaborative
mapping can be used as a tool for urban development and resilience. Finally,
this mapping will be conceived as a true public service of the data ensuring
the reliability, the free and the guarantee of a benevolent use of the data
produced on the territory.

3.    
Free public transportation

Public transportation of metropolitan cities is a crucial
part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental
challenges – helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers,
people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding
public transit services. Free public transportation will encourage people using
it rather than choosing the option of private vehicle which will result in
overall low pollution emission.

Free public transportation can also create other positive
externalities such as a more efficient labor markets since it is easier for
poor people to get to jobs. This is a benefit to employers for it makes it
easier to hire people and it is a benefit to the people without cars who now
find it easier to get jobs. But it is also a benefit to the society at large
because it contributes to a long-term reduction in poverty.

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