19 October 2011 by Pelle Neroth
The French capital hopes to revolutionise the concept of urban transport and at the same time establishing Paris in the global public mind as a serious technology city.
Foreign journalists are swooning over the Autolib scheme, preliminarily showcased two weeks ago, which will see 3000 electric cars let loose on the City of Light; just as with the bicycle scheme, there will docking bays, with rechargers, and destination bays can be ordered and booked ahead.
The cars will be radio linked to an Autolib mission control centre, if help is needed, and max speed is 80mph for 150 miles. Rental charges are five euros for half an hour. Considering local parking fees, that is pretty cheap.
The rivalry between France and the UK is murderous, as we know.
I'd say these days France has the edge over the UK. Numerous quality of life surveys, and the UN index of development, long put France ahead: better health and transport. Recently France has overtaken UK on the nation brand index, which is more about prestige and importance in the world, not just quality of life
In contrast, I feel London leads Paris - still. Paris lost its cultural capital status to New York in 1940s, while London is still joint world capital of finance. Paris is still the favourite of tourists, gourmets, and lovers, but London is the serious city: the centre of information, news gathering, consultancy, auditing and law, but also a leader in art, theatre, and having a much bigger publishing industry.
London's Brit-art scene is thriving while some critics regard Paris as a bit culturally stuffy and conservative. London has better universities - and, according to a AT Kearney report recently, has the world best talent pool of skilled workers, witness the 300.000 French people working in the UK, many from the top Paris engineering schools.London, not Paris, is the playground of Europe's ambitious go-getting young, the so called Eurostar generation.
Even so, several bits of EU legislation on hedge funds have reduced London's heft - and a few weeks ago, finance commissioner Michel Barnier launched a new assault on the City with proposals for a financial transaction tax.
So it is all the more important that London continues to be seen to be ahead. Attracting the elite of talent becomes self perpetuating, and it attracts companies too - not least companies outside the financial sector which London is going to need for a post financial future. London needs to hold on to those smart people.
I remember meeting the head of one of France's top engineering schools who talked with great enthusiasm about Sarkozy's plan to establish a new Paris of 2030.
The school was situated in a gleaming new suburb, a "technopole", linked by fast train to the centre. Many of the students, I noticed, were international: east European, Chinese. Sarkozy's 2030 plan is the result of a nine month study to make Paris the first global (green) technology metropolis, with an expanded metro, sprawling new public parks, and big new infrastructure plans. Parisian regeneration offered a focus, my contact said, for the civil engineers leaving his school.
Presidential-style central planning has never been London's thing. Its secret has always been to let diverse communities in, let them rub shoulders, develop their own genius. I am sure Boris is up to speed on maintaining London's top status - but can he put across the message to jaded Londoners?
Pelle Neroth -- EU correspondent
Posted By: Pelle Neroth @ 19 October 2011 05:33 PM Transport
FuseTalk Standard Edition - © 1999-2013 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.
"Is augmented reality the next big thing or a marketing gimmick? Is it fundamental to the future or a fashion faux pas?"
- Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 5th Floor Highly Radioactive Debris [03:09 pm 17/05/13]
- Cluster formation on cooja simulator [01:59 pm 17/05/13]
- DSLAM Power Consumption [01:58 pm 17/05/13]
- English is not my first language. [01:23 am 17/05/13]
- Transport 2020 [09:35 pm 16/05/13]
Tune into our latest podcast