Smart Infrastructure Base

As a leading consulting firm in digital development in France, Tactis is naturally concerned by the challenges and problems of Smart City and Smart Territories. We are convinced that, in order to set up the latter, it is necessary first to build a transversal and shared infrastructure that will aim to "desilute" the connectivity of the territory concerned: this is what we call the "Smart Base".


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How to set up a Smart Base for a territory?

Two types of territories are concerned by the implementation of Smart Base infrastructures:

- urban territories wishing to develop as Smart Cities,
- rural territories wishing to develop as Smart Territories.

More technically, the Smart Base consists of:

  • Sensors and connected objects, associated with the management of the Smart City or Smart Territory,
  • All the wired or wireless connectivity solutions of these sensors, but also the other points of the territory to be connected,
  • Data Centers hosting all the exchanged data.

The Smart Cities and Smart Territories of tomorrow should, in order:

  • Identify and categorize the sites and objects to be connected on their territory,
  • Identify the connectivity solutions that best meet their needs.

Identification and categorization of sites and objects to be connected

This work must be carried out by the local authorities according to their competences (e.g. municipalities, departments, regions, etc.). For them, it is a question of identifying all the targets to be connected: buildings (e. g. town halls, schools, etc.) or objects (e. g. traffic lights, cameras, etc.).

To this end, the inventory should be as exhaustive as possible on possible sensor solutions for the management of the targeted public services (e.g. public lighting, district heating, parking, waste, transport, energy distribution and production, etc.). Topics such as safety, the environment or the different types of mobility may be concerned.

This work should make it possible to reference and identify all the possibilities in terms of objects that can be connected. It will be a question of having a critical and pragmatic analysis: the objective is not to have a technocentric approach, but to be able to judge the real contributions of digital solutions, even if it means giving up some of them.

Thus, for each Smart Project, it will be necessary to estimate the cost to the community, its reliability and relevance, whether it can have positive or negative externalities on other services in the territory, etc. In some cases, it will be necessary to be satisfied with approaches based on algorithms or light solutions, called "Low Tech", rather than solutions requiring heavy investments.

The categorization of each smart project should be based on the following criteria:

  • The potential quantification expected on the territory (ratios of type per inhabitant, per km², etc.),
  • The typical location (e. g. location in "Indoor" or even "Deep Indoor",),
  • The need for necessary connectivity (e.g. speeds, intensity of exchanges, symmetry or otherwise, etc.),
  • The direct and indirect economic benefits of the project (e.g., reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance costs,)
  • Relevant private and industrial partners on each project and each stage of the project,
  • Feedback from initiatives already operational in other territories.

Overview of existing connectivity solutions

Fiber optics

Fibre optics is today the most powerful technology for Internet access. And, according to the France Très Haut Débit (THD) Plan, 80% of housing in France will be eligible for fibre (FTTH networks) by 2022.

For Smart Cities, it will be a question of assessing the opportunity to use these FTTH networks to deploy their new services, and the possible technical and regulatory constraints that this would represent.

While FTTH networks and fibre in general will certainly be less developed in rural areas, the same questions must be asked for the Smart Territories of tomorrow. The main task for them will be to assess the relevance of the fibre and ensure that the technical capacities of the networks are consistent with each other as well as the regulatory constraints specific to these territories.


Wi-Fi networks are sometimes developed at the initiative of local authorities, particularly in territorial marketing strategies (e.g. tourism, revitalization of city centres, etc.), we speak of territorial Wi-Fi.

The interest of these networks for communities is twofold:

  • To be able to have data on the users of these networks, and thus be able to contribute to strategic studies (e.g. for tourism development, transport, etc.),
  • To be able to pass information through a captive portal (e.g. by giving information to a tourist about other sites to visit in a nearby environment).

These networks can also be used to unload operators' mobile networks, by offering an offload offer to operators.

However, the use of these networks raises some questions, since with the development of 4G networks and the abolition of roaming charges in Europe, users interested in this type of solution are more limited.

On a more technical level, various issues and problems are on the agenda:

  • The possibility of reusing or not the existing hotspots of other actors (e.g. traders, hotels, etc.), to constitute a wider coverage of the territory
  • Whether or not to use the new version of Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6,
  • The fact that user information can only be kept for one year.

IoT networks

Other networks will be adapted to connect the many sensors of tomorrow's Smart Cities and Smart Territory: these are the IoT (Internet of Things) networks.

These take several forms and are based on a diversity of technologies such as:

  • The so-called LPWAN networks on unlicensed frequencies, the best known of which are the open (Lora) or closed (Sigfox) solution using the 868 MHz frequency band,
  • Networks based on licensed frequencies of mobile operators: NB-IoT and LTE-M.

The arrival of 5G will also be an opportunity in the development of IoT networks, since IoT-related needs have been natively integrated into the definition of the 5G standard.

4G and 5G mobile networks

4G mobile networks are an ideal connectivity solution, as they already have a wide coverage of the territory, which will be further extended through the Mobile New Deal.

Then, the next development of 5G will be a key element for a Smart city or Smart territory.

Thus, 5G is a new generation of cellular network that has taken into account the needs of the IoT from the outset. The 5G will be able to connect many objects and sensors and offers a very high throughput. Its low power consumption should extend the battery life of the transmission modules by 10 to 15 years. In addition, 5G represents an improvement in reliability and a reduction in latency time, which will make it possible to handle sensitive or even critical applications such as autonomous cars, health equipment and industrial applications. Finally, 5G is based in its architecture on a virtualization of network functions, and allows service qualities differentiated by type of use thanks to "network slicing".

Professional mobile networks

On 15 April 2019, the French Electronic Communications and Posts Regulatory Authority (Arcep) published the allocation of LTE frequencies allowing the establishment of high-speed professional mobile networks (PMR).

The modernisation of PRMs seems necessary for many professions in cities, particularly with regard to the sovereign functions of police, security and emergency services.

These networks will probably be mainly deployed by major infrastructure players (e.g. EDF, SNCF, RATP, etc.) due to the high installation costs, but public-private partnerships are still possible.

The Data Centers

For Data Centers, it should be noted that two opposing trends are at first glance under development:

  • The creation of large Data Centers, particularly to optimize operating costs, which would lead to their concentration in denser areas,
  • The development of Edge Computing, which brings Data Centers closer to users.

For the territories, it is a question of defining the conditions for the opportunity to set up a public initiative Data Center.

External sources

Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.


Contact Benjamin Fradelle

A question about the smart base ? Need to remove doubts in view of a future project ? Send an email to Benjamin Fradelle, Tactis Associate Director.

Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director Tactis
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.
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