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« Smartization » of Urban Policy as a Lever of Multiple Fields of Innovation in Russia

Du 23 au 30 janvier s’est tenu à Moscou le séminaire franco-russe d’économie à l’Académie des Sciences de la Fédération de Russie, à l’initiative de Jacques Sapir. Introduit par le  professeur Viktor Ivanter qui a dressé un panorama de l’économie russe sous les effets des sanctions et la stratégie nécessaire de contre-sanctions, j’y ai présenté comment un renouveau de la politique urbaine russe pouvait être un levier d’innovation et de croissance pour l’économie russe. Celle-ci est trop dépendante de l’exportation des matières premières, notamment de pétrole et de gaz dans un contexte de baisse des prix, et la structure urbaine héritée de l’époque soviétique est basée sur les mono-villes, soit des villes qui, à l’image de Detroit aux Etats-Unis, n’ont qu’une seule activité et dont les habitants n’ont qu’une seule spécialisation. Une telle structure ne favorise pas l’innovation et donc la croissance, alors que la Russie, bien évidemment, a de nombreux atouts.

Dans cette présentation, je fais le lien entre un renouveau de la politique urbaine dans le cadre du développement des “smart cities” et une politique d’innovation qui soutiendra la politique industrielle.

Modernization and Growth in Russian Economy:  « Smartization » of Urban Policy as a Lever of Multiple Fields of Innovation

 

Russian economy is handicapped by the structure of its towns coined as « monocities », that is to say towns with only one main activity and people with one skill. On one side, these cities are specialized in raw material production and on the other side mono skilled people are difficult to turn in a new type of activity.

The reconversion of monocities and the building of new cities –such as in the development of Arctic regions – is both an opportunity for Russia to comply with its objectives of reducing its energy consumption and of pollution reduction, and to reconvert its economy in innovative and increasing return activities.

We define smart cities not as an accumulation of digital devices, as it is propelled in the West by big digital companies, but as an autopoetic ecosystem – as it was the case in autonomous cities of the middle age – able to grow and being rule in an organic way, that is to say base on the dynamics of the real life of its inhabitants.

Conceiving such ecosystem implies understanding the basic laws of a city life and growth, we may sum up in conjugation of Metclafe law (The potentialities of connections in a network is the square of the size) , Von Thünen law (connections are higher in the center than in the periphery), West and Bettencourt laws (the growth of a city is subject to an increasing return of its externalities – positive and negative – and will creep without limits if not stopped) and Zipf law (or least effort law: the bigger the cities, the fewer their numbers). This conjugation leads us to a policy preferring the clusterization of medium sizes cities to a growth of metropolis. This is the choice made by China.

Digital technologies offer large opportunities of innovations:

  • Virtual modeling, with mapping of networks and flows, integration of functions (e. g. number of inhabitants, transportation, energy consumption …), rapid integration of huge amounts of data…
  • Innovations in cyber security and algorithms, in relation with the softwarization of the city functioning and the development of big data.
  • Innovations in building and energy production and consumption that allows getting free of the incumbent low of “higher density, lower energy consumption” with positive energy building, mix energy production and green transportation, all this being mixed with the evolution of the workplace thanks do digital networks the will allow deconcentration of working places.

The roadmap for Russia may be summed up as follows:

  • Basing on the present industrial basis, researching synergies between old economy activities and industrial activities and business models of the iconomy (information economy of the third industrial revolution), so as to create intelligent and attractive territories for the growth of cities.
  • Mastering system sciences as the new science of cities to allow the integration of all the functions of a city (physical functions and human life) thanks to digital technologies.
  • Defining organic rules of the bottom-up functioning and growth of the city, based on the real life of its inhabitants, thanks to a renewal of civic life based on direct democracy
  • Developing an integrated monitoring of the smart city, comprehending all the dynamics of the city (technological, physical, human and political) in the context of Iconomics.

Smart cities offer fields of innovation in all directions that help reconfigure the competitive advantage of nations:

  • While the West focusses on a techno centric vision based on digital devices (additive strategy), others worlds comprehend the smart city as a whole (systemic strategy).
  • The winner will be the ones who will define the art of this systemic architecture integration.
  • The green economy may represent an increasing returns new techno-economic paradigm shift

Russian disadvantage of Russia managed as a field of innovation may be turned into the building of a competitive advantage.

Claude ROCHET

 

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