Every year the consulting company Mercer produce a study on the liveability and quality of life that different cities provide, for the past 8 years Vienna has been classified as the most liveable city in the world. They have also been one of the cities that is leading the way when it comes to smart city development, in fact they put in place their Smart City Wien framework in 2011 which puts a lot of other cities to shame.
For our latest interview with speakers from Nordic Smart Cities 2017 I managed to grab a few minutes with Andreas Trisko from Vienna, Andreas is Head of Development in the Austrian capital and has been working with smart city projects across the city for a number of years. He will also be one of the keynote speakers at Nordic Smart Cities in Stockholm on 24-25th October.
Great to speak to you today, Andreas. Vienna has been one of the cities leading the way in smart city development, how have you seen this develop since putting your strategy in place?
The Smart City Wien Framework Strategy serves its purpose and it is safe to say that it has to this point been successful. The sectoral strategies subordinate to the framework strategy and thus support the defined meta goals strategically. Within the last few years the first implementation projects that directly contribute to reaching the goals of the framework strategy got under way. There have been successful projects on all scales – from very specific to very comprehensive.
The municipal administration and the municipal companies have successfully been activated. Smart City Wien has been accepted and is now established as a common framework for future developments. From the beginning, the strategy was to be accompanied by a monitoring process. In terms of strategic development Vienna has been in a pioneering role in this field.
As far as we know, a comparable monitoring process does not exist anywhere else. The first monitoring report is going to be published by the end of the year. Its findings will significantly help the city of Vienna to (a) set priorities and (b) to adapt, develop and refine the framework strategy and its objectives.
On your website you talk about solving smart city challenges through “comprehensive innovation” – what do you mean by that?
The innovation strategy is an established component of Smart City Wien thus also stands for its own. Comprehensive innovation, however, means the explicit focus on innovative methods and activities within existing processes and systems. This is true for strategic development as well as for operational implementation. In order to ensure the best innovative results, further stakeholders are continuously invited to participate in work processes: science, entrepreneurs, citizen participation. New formats and communication principles are explored in the course of this process.
I am sure that you have piloted and implemented many projects in the years since the strategy was put in place, can you let us know a bit more about some of the successful projects?
One of our showcase projects are the Citizens’ Solar Power Plants by the city-owned energy provider Wien Energie. By investing in community-funded solar power plants, Viennese citizens have the opportunity to participate in the development of renewable energies. Since May 2012, more than 6,000 Viennese citizens have contributed to the development of renewable power within the city. Wien Energie has realised 24 solar energy projects and 4 wind turbines. The 26,000 panels of the solar power plants generate a total of approximately 6.8 megawatt-peak (MWp). The energy is fed into the Vienna power grid and provides solar power for approximately 3,000 local households.
“Smarter together” is a remarkable project too. The local inhabitants of the traditional district of Simmering as well as the City of Vienna with numerous partners and enterprises develop joint actions for an urban district with a high quality of life. In the EU subsidised Project “Smarter together” Smart City implementations such as e-mobility, shared mobility and the large-scale refurbishment of buildings blocks are carried out in dialogue with the people.
In a very recent project integrated technologies and accompanying service for elderly people are tested in 83 Viennese households. The project WAALTeR (Viennese active & assisted living test region) examines how those technologies and services influence the quality of life of the subjects. In the sense of empowerment and participation users are given room for action in the areas social integration, security and health plus the cross-cutting issue mobility. By that skills and motivation for an active life are reinforced.
As everyone in every city in the world knows not every project can be a success, can you let us know about some projects that did not work and why?
In regards to e-mobility the City of Vienna had to accept that the market was not ready yet. The demand for the funding programs for e-vehicles and charging stations did not live to our expectations. The gap between the real market situation, the technical supply, which finally reached an affordable level, and our strategic goals was too substantial.
There was a project to provide a comprehensive WLAN network. In terms of this project’s reality and the original objective drifted apart. Due to new framework conditions, demand and necessity for such a network has diminished and thus the expansion will not be realised to the extent that was originally planned.
The City of Vienna tried to further develop the renewable energy sector through geothermal energy. Unexpected geographical results and geological framework conditions thwarted this plan.
As one of the leading smart cities I am sure that our readers would be interested to know your thoughts about the future of smart city development, how do you see this taking shape in Vienna?
On the one hand the climate situation will continue to affect cities even more in the future. In the case of Vienna the big challenge will be how to deal with increasing heat in the city in summer, since we have already done a very foresighted high-water project in the 1970s with the creation of the Danube island. This a 22 km long island provides great opportunities for recreational activities as well as an very effective protection from inundations.
On the other hand I see important issues coming up in respect to technological progress. Digitalisation is going to play an increasingly important role in all stages of an urban development process. As the urbanisation trend is not expected to stop in the near future, the densification of cities will pose new challenges for city planners to plan thoroughly and sustainably. The maturing of technologies such as e-mobility and autonomous driving will support planning processes. With the rise of new technologies, it is however increasingly important to remind oneself that the human has to be in the centre of this development and to prevent the digital divide to further gap open. The Smart City Wien Framework Strategy is based on this principle and we continue to believe that a comprehensive and holistic approach is the solution for the future.
Thank you for your time today, Andreas. It has been very interesting to learn more about Smart City Wien and also to get an understanding about how you see things developing in the years to come. If you would also like to hear more then you can book tickets for the event online at www.nordicsmartcities.com