“This award will help us to boost our influence”

To develop the first smart street lamp, you had to overcome a number of technological challenges, didn't you? Yves Le Hénaff : It will have taken us more than two years of R&D followed by a year of testing in Toulouse before we can say we have developed truly sophisticated technology. From the beginning, the project was based on a simple observation: in the age of the smart city, why do we shine bright lights onto the streets even when there's no-one there? Why can't we find a technical solution, in a similar way to the use of presence sensors at garage entrances? Simply because there were no street motion sensors that could detect when a pedestrian arrived, especially in somewhat difficult weather conditions. To overcome the challenge, we installed an optical sensor, Kara, which detects light variations on the ground, looking for people's shadows for around 40 metres to the left and right of the street lamp. If the light levels vary, Kara then determines whether this is caused by a pedestrian, a car, or a tree branch moving in the wind. How can it tell them apart? It all depends on the trajectory: if the shadow moves forwards at a steady pace of 5 km/h, it must be a pedestrian. At 30 km/h, it's a car. And if it constantly moves back and forth, it's a branch in the wind. By determining who is moving, Kara's computer then manages the power supply to the LEDs. What are Kara's strengths? It's fairly rare to be able to combine economic and environmental benefits. That's the appeal of the initial project, which was carried out in collaboration with the city of Toulouse, which has set a target price per sensor depending on the energy saved, therefore the amount saved on the energy bill. The city had no intention of funding technological innovation by increasing taxes. And ultimately, this street lamp – which has resulted in energy savings of up to 70%, an average consumption of 37 watts for 115 watts of lighting – is a successful example of a self-funding sustainable development project! In addition, as well as being used for public street lighting, Kara will also be able to increase safety in areas where people feel worried and where there is little foot traffic, and limit the cost of wasted energy in car parks, particularly those near shopping centres. What does this EDF Pulse Award mean for you? Unlike our competitors, we sell an electrical product that is used in public areas. And for town and city mayors, there can be no better guarantor in the world than EDF – if the Group trusts us, then officials are reassured and follow suit. It also has a major effect in terms of communication. For us, this EDF Pulse Award is a significant benefit in terms of our brand image, which will help us to boost our influence. What next? We've begun fundraising to strengthen the start-up and accelerate its development. Now that we're in the production stage, we need more staff and more marketing, which means more trade shows, exhibitions and demonstrations. We need to expand to become better known. We began this process in early June by being one of the start-ups invited by Ademe (the French agency for the environment and energy control – Ed.) to exhibit at a global environment summit in San Francisco (1). (1) The seventh Clean Energy Ministerial brought together energy ministers from 23 countries and the European Union on 1 and 2 June. To go furtherKARA - smart public lighting And the three winners of the third EDF Pulse Awards are...

Li-Fi: Will the Internet soon light up?

Is it the beginning of the end for Wi-Fi? Through full-scale tests of Light Fidelity technology—Li-Fi for those in the know—in the heart of the Camille-Claudel eco-district in Palaiseau, EDF is illuminating the Internet's pathways, using light to deliver it. The concept Information is transmitted using light signals from 77 street lights outfitted with Li-Fi routers and LEDs. The light emitting diodes can turn on and off thousands of times per second, transmitting data according to the light's amplitude modulation. Scaling up LED use This experiment, launched in late 2015 as part of the "Demonstrateurs industriels pour la ville durable" (Industrial Demonstrators for a Sustainable City) (1) call for projects has already begun to demonstrate the advantages of Light Fidelity. Cost efficiency, first of all, because it renders cables and fibre optics obsolete. It will no longer be necessary to dig trenches under the roads; all that needs to be done is simply to replace light bulbs and install LEDs widely. Another advantage is that Li-Fi's performance hits the mark: its bit rate can reach an impressive 224 gigabits per second in the laboratory. From trials to industrialisation For now, the only issue is the lack of reception technology in our smartphones: Palaiseau residents must use a receptor in the form of a module that plugs into the phone via the jack socket. The next step is to produce concrete results, and move from the trial stage to industrialisation. That's the goal for EDF, which has launched a call for projects to 22 start-ups and other companies to help envision the future of this network, but they are also looking to the future of medicine and artificial intelligence through the Partager la Ville platform (2). It's up to young, innovative companies to imagine the possibilities that Li-Fi might offer: like the smart management of street lighting; information transmission for city services, residents or businesspeople; Internet access in schools; or maybe an increase in technology in all households. These 22 "mastermind" teams have until 8 June 2016 to perfect their strategies. Trials will be extended to other municipalities, and, above all, to private households beginning late 2016 - early 2017. (1) Launched by the Ministries of Sustainable Development and Housing (2) www.partagerlaville.com/projets/quartier-camille-claudel   For further information At the heart of France’s largest eco-district

Covering cities with gardens

What if cities switched from grey to green? What if urban nature was no longer confined to a few planters in squares? And what if cities became archibiotic? This concept developed by architects takes its inspiration from Chinese thinking, which seeks out harmony between humans and nature. And to achieve this goal, archibiotics focuses on the combination of architecture and biotechnology. The dream is to have cities full of green, smart buildings, which reduce the environmental impact of urbanisation. The first – and somewhat fashionable – method being used by archibiotics supporters is to use the space available on roofs to turn cities green. According to estimates, only a quarter of Paris's 80 hectares of roofs that are suitable for greening have been planted. A number of remarkable projects have been created, like the Beaugrenelle shopping centre, which is topped with a garden. Greening a roof has numerous advantages – it can retain up to 90% of rainwater, reducing the strain on drainwater systems, as well as doubling a roof's lifespan and reducing noise by 15-20 decibels. It also helps with thermal insulation and urban temperature regulation. The market is growing strongly. In 2012, a million square metres of green roofs were installed in France. However, Germany remains the world champion in the field with ten times this figure. Green roofs for all Nature can also take hold throughout the city environment, including in bus shelters. Paris now has 900 smart and eco-friendly bus shelters, fitted with USB ports, information boards that light up on request, and audible announcements for visually impaired people. Some have green roofs or photovoltaic panels that are used to power timetable display screens. But there's an obstacle to growing a canopy over the tops of a city's buildings – citizens can be put off by the cost of the work as well as by any possible maintenance difficulties. Several companies are working to make green roofs accessible to everyone, such as Montoitvert. The French firm offers simple and affordable do-it-yourself kits. This system, the first that allows roof planting without plastic, is formed of drainage rolls topped with carpets of sedums, hardy and easy-to-maintain plants. The kit also includes a hydraulic solenoid valve. The self-contained system automatically triggers roof irrigation when the plants are thirsty. It costs € 2399 to green 35 m2 of roof. Montoitvert is a finalist in the 2016 EDF Pulse Awards, in the 'Low Carbon City' category. Discover the project in more detail In the 'Low Carbon City' category, you can also discover another finalist, Kara, which offers smart public lighting To go further Green, dense and connected – the cities of the future are under construction

Start-ups that are making the night dark

At night, the blue planet turns orange. Views from space reveal that the Earth is covered with bright spots, often coming from city lighting. Although Hong Kong is still the brightest city in the world with its towers, France itself has over 11 million lights on at night. In 2014, they accounted for 12% of the country's electricity consumption. As well as hiding the Milky Way, light pollution disrupts natural cycles and affects migrating birds, plant life, and even the reproductive cycles of insects. And humans are not spared, either – effects include sleep problems, desynchronisation and even obesity. We take a look at some dark-sky initiatives. Kara: the smart lamp promises a 70% reduction in lighting and energy costs. Developed by the French company Kawantec, it turns on when needed rather than uselessly lighting up the whole night. Its sensors are fitted with lenses that analyse the various areas of the street. The lamp identifies movement, speed, size and trajectory. Using this information, the central computer – located within the lamp itself – identifies if the movement is a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver, and then decides which lighting to turn on. The lighting intensity increases as the passer-by approaches, then gradually falls. Kara's LEDs provide slow changes, preventing the streets from being filled with flashing lights, which would distract drivers and disturb residents' sleep. After several years of research and a year of conclusive tests in Toulouse, the company has launched large-scale manufacturing. It aims to become a key player in public lighting by 2018. Kara is a finalist in the 2016 EDF Pulse Awards, in the 'Low Carbon City' category. Discover the project in more detail Glowee: Cities could start looking like the ocean floor thanks to Glowee. The Paris-based start-up focuses on biotechnology, and plans to use the luminescent properties of certain marine species. It combines bacteria with animal DNA that can produce light, such as from squid. Placed together in a transparent container, the result is a soft, blueish light that is fully renewable and independent of the electricity grid. Although it will never be bright enough to replace lamps, it could be used to light up shop windows, monuments, and artworks, helping to reduce urban light levels. IDair : Currently being designed by students from Lahaye University, IDair is half lamp, half air filter, and 100% eco-friendly. Inspired by biomimetics, it is shaped like a tree, and its leaves contain photovoltaic cells, making it fully independent. The cells power LEDs that gradually brighten and alter their lighting intensity based on the time and daylight levels. They light up the street with precision, avoiding light pollution and light loss into the sky. The LEDs are also fitted with motion sensors, and give off low light levels when the streets are empty. During the day, IDair turns back into a tree – its photovoltaic cells become air filters. In the 'Low Carbon City' category, you can also discover another finalist, Montoitvert, which offers sustainable green roofs To go further The app shedding light on energy waste