City under Microscope Toulouse

– Highlights

Toulouse – a heritage city ready to leap into the future

The LUCI City under Microscope in Toulouse gathered over 160 city representatives and lighting professionals from 34 cities on 23 – 25 May 2018 for some thought-provoking and stimulating conference sessions, keynote speeches and networking.

The main focus of the event reflected the City of Toulouse’s approach, and centred on the “smart” data economy of the future and its implications and opportunities for cities and public lighting.

See a video featuring Emilion Esnault and Joel Lavergne talking about LUCI and light

A new light on Toulouse’s rich heritage

The urban lighting strategy of Toulouse – a city of over 450 000 inhabitants, France’s third largest university town, and a centre of the aerospace industry and technological innovation – reflects the local municipal political objective to “Relight the city”: i.e. provide better lighting that enhances Toulouse’s over 200 heritage sites and creates safe and comfortable spaces for citizens while reducing energy consumption and cost.

Participants got a first-hand view of this: the event started off with the inauguration of the new lighting of the Wilson Square, a national heritage site and one of the city’s liveliest public spaces, by the Mayor of Toulouse, Jean-Luc Moudenc and City Councillor, Emilion Esnault.

Guided walks led by lighting professionals from the Toulouse public lighting department revealed the technical details of the city centre’s heritage lighting.

Maurice Pradal, the “Toulouse Centre” Project Director at Toulouse Metropol and Peter-Jan Versluys Architect and Urban Planner working with the renowned Joan Busquets at BAU, provided the larger context, with a presentation on the Toulouse city centre strategy which aimed to rethink public space and enhance the historical centre of the city.

Toulouse has moved from a purely architectural focus in its urban planning and design vision, to a more global perspective based on usage of urban spaces. While enhancing the historical heritage buildings remains important, the city’s main focus is on creating comfortable and pleasant public spaces for its citizens.

Public lighting in Toulouse – innovative processes and projects

The public lighting network of Toulouse, which consists of approximately 67 000 lighting points that consume 25 GWH per year, is managed by the city’s Public Lighting Department which has a full-time municipal staff of 35 persons.

The municipal public lighting team – Joël Lavergne, Christophe LabroCaroline Marcillou and David Moras – explained the management of the city’s urban lighting network, from purchase to design, to technical management.

They are setting up collaborative tools to better manage the public lighting, particularly for technicians on the field, and are also developing apps to better provide other services.

The municipality aims to use primarily LED solutions in the future. This is not only to save energy, but mostly because the electronic and software components of LEDs mean that the city will be ready to take the next steps towards artificial intelligence and all the possibilities and solutions that come with it ….as well as the collaborative economy it could bring.


Participants also discovered some of the innovative lighting solutions that the City of Toulouse has developed with its private partners, such as the Kara module, a plug & play smart streetlighting solution by Kawantech and Eco-fit, a retrofit lamppost tailor-made for Toulouse by Philips Lighting.

This was complemented by presentations from some of the lighting designers working with the City of Toulouse – Lionel Bessières of Quartiers Lumières, Laurent Fachard of Les Éclairagistes Associés and Sarah Debaene of Agence ON – featuring key lighting projects in Toulouse such as the Jacobins Tower and the Montaudran airport.

Exploring new opportunities for cities of the future

A thought-provoking keynote speech by Nicolas Bouzou, Essayist and Economist, raised questions on the expected impacts of the digital revolution on cities as they relate to governance, technology, economy, and urban planning.

A second keynote speech, by Vincent Gregoire-Delory from the Higher School of Science Ethics, examined the connected city through a bio-ethical lens, and questioned the nature of public lighting, its function, connectivity, and the notion of human privacy.

A city experience and feedback session saw cities from around the world talk about their smart lighting and data management policies for public service and infrastructure.

While cities are at varying stages of implementation of “smart lighting” (the definition of which is a topic of study in itself within LUCI at the moment, with the Pathways to Smart Urban Lighting research project led by the London School of Economics), many have only just begun developing policies related to data management.

Discussions through the course of the event showed that while the cities present had varying approaches towards these technological evolutions and opportunities, all agreed that it was essential that citizens, i.e. human beings, and their needs remain at the heart of all urban evolutions in the future.

Moreover, current technological advancements might also be an opportunity for municipal decision makers and lighting managers to go beyond perceiving people as classic consumers of their service, to seeing them as co-producers of public services, the city and of urban life.

Clearly, cities are excited by the opportunities now available – light is changing from something that was uniformly applied in the city, to something that is adapted to users.

This new way of lighting, using sensors, could help cities better understand the movements, uses and needs of citizens – and eventually help them provide better public services. However, it was pointed out that data and statistical numbers cannot replace discussions with inhabitants and that data should not become a substitute for community involvement.

Participants agreed that cities are not just facing a technological question, but rather a cultural challenge. Being a smart city is not the same as being a smart society. The starting point for all cities, as they face this changing future, should be to try to understand people’s needs and to find ways to improve quality of life.

Participants were also awestruck by the dinner venues, where the City of Turin hosted us in the Hall of Kings of the world-renowned Egyptian Museum the first night and in the breathtaking historic Palazzo Madama for the second night. Grazie to our hosts!

Watch or re-watch the conference

LUCI members can access the presentations made during the conferences in the


 Event pictures

We are happy to share some photos from the conference. You can access them here.

Please be sure to use the noted ©photo credits if sharing these via social media or your communication channels.

© J.Y. Soetinck; ©LUCI Association