In an approach of territorial intelligence, it is a question of providing the territory with capacities of action which relies on informed decisions, relevant and proactive, and sharing values, exchange of collaboration and friendship based on proximity and social ties. Information and communication technologies are then very useful in such approach.
Still, the appeal of these technologies must be effected with a surgical attitude. Now almost nothing predisposes the Moroccan university, and less the territories, to have such attitude. Media, several organizations reports and international agencies, the most prominent intellectuals and experts and of course multinationals, in particular those operating in the field of software and IT infrastructure or communication, preach the benefits of ICTs and the huge promises that they bring us.
The “ambient” language is filled with concepts like “smart city”, “open data”, “Big data”, “augmented territory”, “cloud”, … to which the marketing strategies of powerful multinationals combine values and truths that are only partial facets of an idealized reality, captures territorial and even academic strategies and takes up large portions of the budget in several national institutions without real upstream questioning or real downstream fallout.
Without the necessary recoil and a global vision of the technological mutations and the consequences that they may produce, and enclosed that they are in their biased logics and disabling disciplinary silos. For some Academics, they adhere with a naive positivism to the unlimited benefits of the technology, for others, they reject all actual technological innovations, or support them with suspicion and helplessness. The reasons handled by ones and others are not more developed than those shared by ordinary Moroccans, regardless of educational level. Only a true understanding of technological revolutions development, social, economic and geopolitical transformations that all these cause, would enable us to measure its magnitude, to seize its opportunities and to reduce their unintended consequences.
We believe that the current technological revolution presents for the university both an object-pretext of research and a means to mobilize in order to be open on its territory. If we can accept that local actors: city halls, administrations, associations, companies… have some difficulties to understand or ignore the real stakes of ICT, the University should not enjoy the same indulgence. Indeed, as a place of creation and knowledge broadcasting, its role assigns it to take which upsets and transforms deeply our society, to create the conditions, to lead the debates and to foster the crossing of the points of view and critics needed to elucidate the dynamics in progress and to propose the prescriptions that result from them. All the more this object of research is eminently rewarding for the university while its legitimacy is in phase of erosion.
ICTs are offering today an effective and unavoidable way to be open on its territory. Digital technology makes it possible to set up different types of exchange and communication interfaces between the University and its closed environment. In a previous work we showed how we have been organized inside Hassan the 1st University to design and implement a territorial information system. Several local actors are involved in this project with a triple goals :
- To lead the change for a real opening of the university on its territory,
- To experiment some theoretical models in relationship with the concept of territorial intelligence.
- To benefit the territorial actors academic expertise and support them to usefully utilize digital technology in their local development strategies.
The development of a territorial information system is a major stake for our approach.
The complexity of the context as described since the beginning of this work shows that the creation of a territorial information system must not be reduced to giving IT solutions to local actors. The approach will necessarily be through Trials-Errors-Adaptations-Experimentation. Indeed, the development process is as important, if not more important, as the quality and performance of the final solution. Moreover, this process that should be carried out at a “territorial pace”, must not have as only goal the final deliverable. At least four intermediate objectives will be taken into account :
– Serve as a pretext to animate the network of local actors
– Promote learning through exchanges around the design of the information system, and the choice of technologies to adopt.
– Identify the weak signals to be later used to define precursor projects that will help cultivate our “emergence mode” approach.
– Gather a maximum information on the territory to initiate an open data strategy
– Restore confidence of local actors in a university as a growth lever attached to its territory and as a support for the dynamics of a local development, and promote the culture of supply and sharing, by making available to all actors, solutions developed by the university.
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