Réunion has a population of about 840,000. With an unemployment rate of 24.6% in 2015 (compared to 9.3% in Metropolitan France), one of the challenges faced by the island is how to accelerate economic opportunities in the face of strong demographic growth and the decline of some of the sectors of the economy such as the cultivation of sugar cane. Currently, the economy of Réunion is heavily subsidized by Metropolitan France and the European Union, its main trading partners (the island has very little economic ties with its neighboring countries in Africa). In order to address this challenge, Région Réunion is actively promoting the development and use of information and communications technology (ICT) in order to transform Réunion into a “smart city” island.

The objective of the SIPA Capstone team will be to prepare a strategic growth plan that will help Région Réunion determine the best opportunities to pursue within the smart city concept. This will entail, among other things, analyzing how other cities/islands have used ICT to improve the quality and sustainability of urban life (e.g. mobility, waste management, water management, energy management, e-governance and services to citizens, etc.), and how such initiatives spurred economic growth. Another critical aspect of the project will be to determine how to leverage the benefits of a data-rich society while minimizing threats to individual privacy and civil liberties.