Paris imports high-tech ideas from San Francisco

24th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAN FRANCISCO, April 21, 2006 (AFP) - From wireless computer antennae affixed to public buildings to a Google billionaire bicycling to work, the San Francisco area is a trove of inspiration for thrusting Paris into a 21st century economy, the French city's mayor said on Friday.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 21, 2006 (AFP) - From wireless computer antennae affixed to public buildings to a Google billionaire bicycling to work, the San Francisco area is a trove of inspiration for thrusting Paris into a 21st century economy, the French city's mayor said on Friday.

"Even a city with a rich history must be ahead of its time," Bertrand Delanoë told reporters at a press conference in the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco.

"Paris must be a city for the 21st century — a city that takes risks."

Delanoë and a French delegation were in San Francisco to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of a "sister cities" pact with Paris.

He and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signed a "digital sister cities" pact a day earlier to foster collaboration between technology entrepreneurs.

Delanoë said Friday the San Francisco visit provided ideas for what his city government should be looking for in providing wireless computer service.

Google and US Internet company EarthLink have been chosen to do the job in San Francisco, where officials were finalizing the deal and hoped to have work started by early next year.

Delanoë saw particular merit in the fact that making San Francisco wireless came at no cost to the city, which was simply allowing signal transceivers to be mounted on public structures.

"The city of Paris has a couple of buildings," Delanoë quipped. "It is clear that this is no danger to the citizens."

Delanoë expected the winning bid to cover Paris with a "wi-fi" umbrella to be revealed in the spring.

"I'm pulling Paris into the 21st century, and this visit to San Francisco has helped speed things up," Delanoë said. "I will bring back to Paris contacts, desires, wishes and know-how."

Delanoë's remarks came as he led a delegation of French technology entrepreneurs intent on tapping into the successful techniques used by the San Francisco area's thriving digital media and Internet companies.

Delanoë beamed as he recounted running into Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page at the online search giant's Mountain View, California, campus a day earlier, when the company dazzled Wall Street with a stellar profit report.

"One came riding up on a bicycle and the other was in a T-shirt," Delanoë said with a smile. "They are nice guys. You don't come out of Google more stupid than when you started."

When asked his thoughts on concerns Google might have about regulations affecting its business in Paris, he replied that the French government, not he, makes the rules.

Delanoë also gave a nod to Earth Day, which is celebrated Saturday, pointing out that to be more attractive to foreign firms Paris needs to cut pollution, particularly from cars.

Delanoë said he uses an electric car at home and refused the gas-guzzling limousine Newsom sent to pick him up from the airport when he arrived on Wednesday.

Delanoë said there were no plans for him to meet President George W. Bush, who arrived in nearby Silicon Valley on Friday and was to spend the weekend relaxing at a posh resort in the chic Napa Valley wine region north of San Francisco.

"The world is a dangerous place and needs the United States to create peace," Delanoë responded when asked what he might tell Bush if their paths crossed. "The world needs trust."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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