St Quentin, a medium-sized city of 56.000 residents, is not as quiet as you may think

by Auriane Cirasuolo

Based in the North of France, between Paris and Lille, the city has shown the capability of transforming its innovative ideas into pioneer technology implementation.

From parking flow management to cigarette butt collection, these innovative applications aim to create a greener, more sustainable home for its occupants. Last year, St Quentin implemented one of its most innovative and exciting sustainable solutions so far.

So exciting in fact that this innovative solution has already been acknowledged and given two national awards: The Innovative Territory Label from Les Interconnectés and a trophy in Actions to Reduce Water Consumption During Periods of Water Scarcity, granted by the Water Saving Club, instituted by the French Ministry of the Environment.

Now, what exactly have they done to save water? Let’s ask Alexandre Chaffotte, the person behind the Smart Watering Project.

“The Smart Watering Project started from a need expressed by the green space services of the city of St Quentin. We wanted to optimise water usage, by measuring and having objective data to promote decision support, as there is a tendency of overwatering [the sport pitches].” – Alexandre Chaffotte – Innovation & Smart City Manager in Saint-Quentin, France.

The project to digitally transform the city’s pitches to optimise water consumption began. Alexandre explained that through the SCIFI (Smart Cities Innovation Framework Implementation) open data innovation open call, the city of St Quentin was introduced to innovative start-ups working in smart cities. The programme offered the city of St Quentin an opportunity to choose the most tailored technology to suit their needs.

The city then began a partnership with the start-up Element IO to respond to city’s requirements. Together, they started thinking of ways to develop two layers for a watering solution:

  • Find the exact water requirements of the soil using IoT sensors
  • Develop an application to get real-time data on the status of the pitches and insights on the actions to perform (watering operation, sensor maintenance).

Fast forward a few months, the Smart Watering Project evolved from being an idea to a reality.

Alexandre and his team worked with the SME Faubourg Numérique to define the digital architecture for the project, and with Easy Global Market to deploy the digital architecture. This was done in order to develop effective decision making of the watering of the nine sports pitches in the city.


One of the challenges of this project was to teach the new watering equipment to coexist with the other devices, including mowing robots and the irrigation system. Another challenge was to teach the equipment to adapt itself to the environment (e.g. avoid watering if players are on the pitch or if it is already raining).

Within months, the innovative IoT company Hostabee found a solution to circumvent these challenges and also developed a remote maintenance dashboard for the grounds with guidance from St Quentin officials. As a result, the city benefited from an integrated ecosystem that effectively watered, mowed, and irrigated all the football pitches.

Fig 1. Water predictions on a football pitch in St Quentin


Fig 2. Planning how much watering (arrosage) is needed depending on the amount of rain (pluie)

“The idea was to unify in a single ecosystem the equipment found on a sports field. For us, this includes robot mowers, irrigation systems, and humidity sensors. This is done so that for example, when the pitch is being watered, the robot mowers return to their base so that there is no accident.” explains Alexandre.

With two awards under its belt, the beautiful city of St Quentin is heading proudly into a low carbon future and we will be watching keenly to see what will be the innovative city’s next move to reduce its environmental footprint.

Interested in this project? Join SCIFI to create your own!

The SCIFI Open Data Innovation programme aims to activate the market for innovative solutions to improve public service delivery using data. Cities collaborate on identifying shared challenges in mobility, energy and environment. They jointly explore innovative procurement methods to work with businesses in developing data-based solutions, implementing them in living labs, and demonstrating the value of opening data.

We asked Alexandre what advice he would give to similar cities trying to implement smart solutions to reduce their carbon emission. Subscribe to view the article in the Autumn Newsletter!

The SCIFI partners are putting together a report based on learnings from the 12 pilots which will be released in 2021, which will cover issues such as opening data, interoperability of solutions, co-creation and innovative procurement. If you would like to receive a copy, REGISTER HERE