Réunion Island is a French region in the Indian Ocean. With an unemployment rate of 23% in 2017, 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. The government executive, the Regional Council, is actively promoting the growth and use of ICT in order to transform Réunion into a “smart” island. ICT is particularly suited to address Réunion’s constraints (insular position, lack of economies of scale, etc). The Capstone team was asked to assess how smart infrastructure investments can create jobs and promote socio-economic development, and specifically to develop a data-centric strategy using the tourism industry as a pilot. Another critical aspect of the project was to determine how to leverage the benefits of a data-rich society while minimizing threats to individual privacy and civil liberties.
The team’s analysis and fieldwork concluded with the creation of a public centralized data unit for faithful and effective management of data with emphasis on the coordination of stakeholders and private-public partnerships. The recommendations aimed at helping the Regional Council make more informed budget and investment decisions to spur economic growth that is shared broadly across society, especially small businesses, and make the tourism industry a stronger driver of the island’s economy (which currently represents only 10.9% of GDP). The final report included a strategic roadmap with actionable recommendations that can be implemented by the Regional Council.