Bordeaux Métropole makes digital and ESG a local priority with ServiceNow

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez October 24, 2023
A 2014 law has allowed Bordeaux Métropole to prioritize digital investment and cater it for local needs, making use of the ServiceNow platform.

An image of the city of Bordeaux skyline
(Image by Emmanuel CATEAU from Pixabay)

Bordeaux Métropole, an inter-communal region centered around the city of Bordeaux in France and made up of 18 towns, is consolidating its digital services and prioritizing what residents need in the local area, whilst using more data to inform decision making. 

Part of this is being achieved through the adoption of the ServiceNow platform, both for ITSM and for a new carbon footprint app that measures the day-to-day management of the Métropole, to help shape its sustainability strategy. 

This focus on using digital to cater to local needs and requirements has been made possible because of a 2014 law (the Modernization of Territorial Public Action and the Affirmation of Metropolitan Areas), which allows conurbations with over 400,000 residents to be directly involved in their local economic development, innovation, energy transition and urban policy. 

Bordeaux Métropole now manages local services across 800,000 citizens. This includes a standardized regional information system that consolidates 1,600 digital services for residents in the area and its 20,000 public employees. 

Speaking at a recent event in Bordeaux, CIO Jean-Noël Olivier, said: 

Digital experiences are about simplification. Citizens have to have their lives improved if a service is deployed - we have to mask the administrative complexity. Everything has to be done from the point of view of the citizen.

Our approach is not to race to become a smart city, but introduce digital services that add value. Services should be resilient, but we should use data in services - and for decision making. How do we enlighten decision making? How do we use digital services for trust and transparency? 

Bordeaux Métropole has a Consultative Committee of Digital Technologies in the city that accompanies this movement and it is opening up to universities and companies too.  

Olivier’s team works closely with stakeholders in the area so that digital strategies are co-built alongside executives, civil servants and the public. Commenting on the organization’s environmental plans, for instance, Mathias Hummel, Digital Commons Director at Bordeaux Métropole, said: 

We worked for a year and a half to build our digital sustainability strategy and now that we have it, we have the ability to change things and get people moving in the same direction. If we have ambassadors promoting the strategy, then it will be all the more successful. 

Measuring carbon footprint 

As noted above, Bordeaux Métropole is using the ServiceNow platform for IT Service Management, which includes a call center that aims to optimize agents’ digital activities and provide immediate year-round responses to users’ IT requests. However, expanding on this, the area is now looking to use ServiceNow to support its ambitions of becoming energy positive and low carbon by 2050. 

The area has adopted a region-wide political objective to support an ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) approach, of which digital will play a key part. With technology being increasingly used to manage services and facilities, Bordeaux Métropole has created an IT tool to assess their impact and handle issues such as the replacement of equipment and relocation of agents. 

Simply put, it will incorporate ESG measures in decision making to assess a service’s usefulness to citizens and its environmental impact. Olivier said: 

We need to balance the value that digital services bring with any potential negative consequences - whether that be societal, environmental or around the digital divide. 

We also have to be conscious about creating new divisions across society. If we are not getting through to the most isolated people in Europe, we have to have public policy that guarantees digital rights for all. 

As part of this, in September 2021, Bordeaux Métropole launched the ‘Orientations Numériques Partagées’ - Shared Digital Orientations - strategy, which outlines its commitment to responsible digital development, including making sure services are useful and accessible, whilst being environmentally friendly. 

Working with IT consultancy Aguaro, Olivier and his team are expanding the ServiceNow platform to include data that measures carbon footprint for the management of services. For instance, Bordeaux Métropole is now able to assign colors to its IT budgets based on their environmental footprint, to quickly identify which projects and investments may not be aligning with the city’s climate commitments. 

Aguaro’s solution also allows the team to assess the environmental impact of all equipment used in the communes and track other activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions. Metrics cover areas such as maintenance services and distances traveled transporting equipment between sites. 

Olivier’s team has also set up a ServiceNow portal to help educate and engage users in the principles of carbon reduction, which features a catalog of services and equipment that displaces the environmental impact when used or purchased. Bordeaux Métropole is also offering ‘digital responsibility’ initiatives, such as Digital Clean-up Days, where staff are shown how to clean up files and optimize online storage. Staff can also return devices that they no longer use to 28 collection points throughout the region. 

Hummel said that he hopes that these plans will have an impact beyond Bordeaux: 

We are dynamically measuring the overall end-to-end carbon footprint of our digital services including digital workplace, data centers, applications. The solution My IT Footprint carries out simulations that help us to drive our transformation roadmap. Any project should go through an evaluation of its environmental impact, in the same way we would do for the financial impact. 

There will be a score we will calculate and we want to build it with other metropole areas, so we are adding value not only to our cities, but other cities, the country and Europe. 

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