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Dreaming of Brussels 4.0

Dominique Leroy, CEO Proximus
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Dominique Leroy

Proximus fervently supports the goal of making Brussels a real European digital capital. Many initiatives have already been set in motion to achieve this aim. However, we are convinced that Brussels can go further and faster. In this Carte Blanche, I would therefore like to imagine what the Brussels of tomorrow could be like. Brussels 4.0.

Imagine a region where everyone feels safe, mobility is fluid and the air is pleasant to breathe. ‘Smart Mobility’ apps are linked to data analysis and a network of cameras. This enables improvements in road safety and public safety, as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions. At the same time, the public administrations set an example with the widespread use of videoconferencing and modern communication and collaboration tools, as well as solutions designed to safeguard against cybercrime.

Imagine a region that makes more use of ICT and the Internet of Things to improve well-being and services for citizens, tourists and businesses. ‘Smart Cities’ apps are deployed for example for smart waste management, public lighting and the energy performance of public buildings. The public administrations provide services for citizens in line with expectations in the 2020s, in particular thanks to the e-counter, chatbots and the blockchain.  They have an API platform (‘Application Programming Interface’) so that businesses and the public can easily access the information they need. We are thinking here, among other things, of urban planning information needed by members of the public and architects when renovating homes. Street terminals equipped with QR codes guide tourists around Brussels, providing them with relevant information in real time, depending on where they are.

Imagine a region that innovates thanks to co-creation between members of the public, businesses, public authorities and the academic world, promoting full employment thanks to digitisation. Initiatives aimed boosting the Brussels digital ecosystem abound. And as an essential player in the Brussels economy, we are already actively supporting its digital development. For example, we organise hackathons and contribute towards Co.Station and BeCentral. And we plan to go on doing so, in order to provide Brussels start-ups and scale-ups with the tools they need to innovate and develop. We will also carry on training our young people in new technologies and robotisation so that they have the tools to create professions that do not yet exist. In particular via the Digitalent training programme, a Proximus Foundation initiative, we introduce unemployed and low-skilled young people to ICT and help them to enter the labour market.

This Brussels 4.0 does not exist solely in our imagination. The dream can take shape because all the building blocks needed to make it reality are within reach. We use fibre optics in Brussels now. This network of the future opens up new ways of living and working for the public and for businesses in Brussels. We are connecting more and more objects via our LoRa network and we can continue to lift Brussels so that it ranks among the leading European Smart Cities. That said, if this process is truly to gather pace in the next legislature, as we firmly believe it can, it seems to us essential for this transformation to be underpinned by a simplified administrative framework, conducive to initiatives and enabling all the energies available to be released, and by radiation standards that allow the networks of the future to be deployed.

We are reaching out to the Brussels Regional Informatics Centre. Let us dare to dream of Brussels 4.0 TOGETHER! Let us work TOGETHER to build a digital Brussels Region for future generations.