News

Spirit in Alpbach

Smart City Working Group

01.09.2014
alpbach_smartcitywien

The vision of the smart city together with appropriate intelligent and sustainable solutions comprises an important focal point of our work. For this reason, Georg Wagner also took part in a working group in Alpbach called “Socioeconomic aspects of the smart city“.  It focused on the city of the future i.e. a smart city ensuring individual quality of life and development opportunities, participation and inclusion as well as the ecological quality of the location.

Thanks to its smart city initiatives, our hometown of Vienna is repeatedly awarded with renowned prizes. Numerous activities being implemented at present have emerged from the process “Smart City Charta Vienna” developed by urban planners and various stakeholders. The objective is to ensure a common understanding of the problem, motivate involvement, ensure the readiness for dialogue, define goals and measures and take diversity into account. In particular, a central role is to be played by internal and external interface management as well as the self-organization of citizens.

Experts such as Martin Krajcsir, CEO of Vienna’s utility company Wiener Stadtwerke, Birgit Murr, Head of the Science and Technology Section of the Austrian Embassy in Peking and Arnulf Wolfram, Head of Infrastructure & Cities CEE, Siemens AG Austria dealt with this issue. They reached a consensus about the necessity to optimize the lives of the population and about the significance of social aspects in cities of the future. Whereas the Internet has a great deal of importance in China with respect to the participation of citizens and is used in a coordinated manner, fears still exist in Vienna with respect to data security. In most cases cities are organized in a strongly decentralized manner, and there hardly any communication among the various departments. Great importance is attached to open data and platforms.

In Vienna, as many stakeholders as possible were integrated in a participatory process within the context of the Vienna Smart City Initiative. Nevertheless, the challenge is to reach a representative cross-section of the population and enable them to help shape the process. Spirit Design intensively focuses on the issue of the smart city and is expanding its consulting offering in this area.  For this reason, we are collecting relevant learnings and are working on preparing benchmarks to be transferred to other cities. Whereas Vienna boasts 60-70% public housing and district heat can be used very efficiently, data collection still plays a fundamental role in other large cities, for example in South America.  It is of central importance to sociologically differentiate the population, to involve citizens and get them on board. Accordingly, we are working on a tool, for example also with students at the Eindhoven University of Technology, which will enable participation via smart phones and thus contribute to coordinating the necessary processes. The Smart City Working Group in Alpbach and the opinion of the experts there has encouraged us to continue our efforts in this respect.