Bernard Matyjasik
directeur de projet Infrastructures et Services à la mobilité
Published on February 03, 2021

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Covid-19: successfully transforming cities after the crisis

All over the world, the health crisis caused by Covid-19 has dealt a heavy blow to all economic sectors, first and foremost in the area of mobility. Traditional transport has seen a 90% drop in activity in the air sector and an 85% drop in rail transport. Heavy goods vehicle transit is resisting better, but car mobility declined sharply during the lockdown phases, which involved furlough measures and widespread teleworking. Even shared mobility platforms such as Blablacar, Zenpark or Getaround have seen their use drop by more than 95%. This observation is a simple one to make.

The impacts need to be understood from different angles since the approach can only be systemic. While today the principle of precaution prevails over any other consideration, it is to be expected that economic, ecological and democratic realities will transform public life in the short term.

Today, in order to prevent them from simply disappearing, companies in the economic sectors most severely affected by the pandemic crisis are being massively subsidised throughout Europe and particularly in France. Tomorrow, a much more ambitious stimulus policy on a European scale will be necessary, following the example of the $1,900 billion announced by President Joe Biden in the United States, to get the economy moving again, for greater economic autonomy and consideration for everyday living conditions, with a view to preserving the planet's resources. And the media will recall the Marshall Plan and the New Deal. We should not overlook the fact that we are witnessing an acceleration in the cycle of economic, social and health crises.

Acknowledging the empowerment of communities

Public figures will have to solve an unprecedented equation: avoid a public sector debt crisis and stimulate the economy while combating the most harmful effects of globalisation, ensure a better life for their population and provide a new democratic impetus after a period during which individual liberties have been constrained.

A new wave of devolution and regionalisation was being debated by the French Senate before the pandemic. The public health crisis has demonstrated that local government structures are more efficient than the central administration. A more sustainable city and mobility are becoming not only possible but also a burning obligation. Ecology is no longer a political alternative: it is the direction for the management of public affairs. Digital technology is no longer a necessary change: it is the way to combine ambitious objectives with tight budgets.

Egis is the only player in the value chain to have a systemic vision of cities, mobility and energy issues, but also to the only one with methods and tools to successfully deliver these transformations.

The digital twin at the heart of the transformation of communities

Concurrent engineering methods have proved their worth with BIM. The digital twin of the city inherently carries the possibility and hope of transforming communities. As a support for the necessary transformation of local public service disciplines, it is also the point of convergence of the city's public and private stakeholders. The overhaul of public service processes for a better "taxpayer experience" will generate productivity gains. Simulating scenarios, with the support of expert systems, will optimise investments while at the same time reducing maintenance costs. Opening up data will generate value creation for the entire urban ecosystem. Companies holding public service delegation contracts will be able to work in "concurrent operation-maintenance" mode.

A new systemic steering role is emerging for Egis. Neither operators of urban services nor construction giants are as well-placed in the value chain as we can be.

Orchestrating the transformation

We will see twenty-year plans for the transformation of cities taking shape. PADDs (planning and sustainable development projects) will be redesigned around the digital twin. Mobility scenarios will be injected into them on the scale of the employment catchment area as provided for in the new SCOTs (territorial coherence schemes). At Egis, we draw on the diversity of our engineering offering and our expertise in digital twinning to best meet the challenges of these local community projects.

Capacity for resilience is becoming a political priority for elected holders of office. We are ourselves convinced that we must act in favour of “levelling up” and that is what we have been doing for almost 10 years, helping our clients in the public sector to anticipate crises and acquire the tools and methods to return to nominal operating conditions as quickly as possible. This crucial levelling-up is a vector of local development from economic, social and environmental perspectives.

The economic recovery will be all the more effective if it relies on the private sector to support the public sector. Financing resources are abundant and the contrast with governments is striking. It is with this in mind that we strive to design, finance, operate and maintain infrastructure that will bring about sustainable development and reasoned economic recovery.

We are ready and prepared to support communities, in France and abroad, in the design and deployment of territorial renewal, for a better quality of life, based on the creation of value shared by all.

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