District management and instrumentation

This research programme aims on the one hand to extend urban system monitoring capacity beyond the generally very much silo-based conventional approaches, and on the other to develop algorithms to optimise the dimensioning and management of these systems so as to maximise energy and environmental performance while at the same time improving their quality of use, resilience, etc.


In practice, the management of urban systems remains very much silo-based, with data continuing to be handled independently by each operator, often with no guarantee of its reliability. Little is known of local phenomena (micro-climate, air quality, nuisances, density of occupation and use, etc.), which may nevertheless be crucial.

Accessing local and real-time data poses a technical challenge given the wide disparities in data management systems and protocols. New devices are emerging from the Internet of Things (IoT) that will gradually make it possible to overcome these constraints. They will need to be tested in a variety of real-world contexts.

Our vision: extended monitoring and performance-based management of urban systems

The urban systems of tomorrow will communicate with one another for optimal operation, responding to changes in context (microclimate, user flow, air quality, etc.). The interconnection and expanding use of low-cost sensors associated with the various urban systems and spaces will open up possibilities for concerted responses to issues such as network overloads, countering the effects of heat islands and heatwaves, predicting and reducing pollution peaks, securing travel routes and traffic-calmed areas for users, or for effective predictive maintenance of infrastructure.

The ability to measure and monitor performance on a day to day basis will bring about a revolution in contractual and partnership relations within districts, relying on “eco-managers” to identify real performance and quality of use warranties. The data generated will feed into new services for urban users and will help fuel better understanding and management of public space and its qualities.

Our general R&D method

Efficacity is developing libraries of simplified operating models for all the components of urban systems: escalators, street lighting, ventilation of underground spaces, water supply, watering systems, signage, charging stations for electric vehicles, etc., compatible with an approach based on optimisation and management.

Efficacity is working with its partners to define the protocols for instrumentation and linkage to existing modelling tools in order to characterise urban phenomena (microclimate, air quality, etc.) with the requisite degree of accuracy, partly as a contribution to the evaluation of project performance and partly in order to produce simplified models that can be integrated into optimisation and management algorithms.

Efficacity incorporates these simplified models into multi-criteria tools for the optimisation and management of local multi-energy systems, so as to determine optimum operating criteria to maximise synergies and overall quality of use in the urban space.

Division into projects

The programme is divided into two projects, as follows: