An easy guide to our way into the future.
Why Smart City?
No Turning Back: Climate Change is Real.
There is a significant date each year that gets no more than a small mention in the media. In 2018, it was the first of August. This is the day on which humanity has used up all the raw materials earth is able to renew within a full year. We are producing more pollutants that the oceans and forests are able to degrade, cutting more wood than can grow back, and so on. Everyone knows by now that we are living far beyond our means. It is shocking, though, that this date has moved forward from November to mid-summer in under two decades.
The ‘ecological footprint’ of the human population keeps growing. It is also becoming more noticeable. In the 1970s, when the first warnings were voiced that we were passing the ‘limits of growth’, the forecasts might have been dramatic but concerned a far-away future. By now, climate change has caught up with us: 17 of the 18 hottest years since the start of measurements have occurred since 2000. The summer of 2018 witnessed dramatic heat-induced shortfalls in the corn yield in countries as far apart as Sweden and El Salvador. Nuclear reactors in Europe had to be shut down because the river water that is used for cooling was too warm. Forest fires and heat fatalities increased from California to Japan.
Cities, like Vienna, are particularly affected by this development. People live in close proximity. Residential, work and leisure uses share close quarters. Energy consumption and the emission of damaging greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are concentrated in cities. Urban spaces suffer the greater consequences of global warming and resource scarcity that will seriously affect people’s future life. We need to face these challenges head-on.
Annual average temperatures in Vienna (1775-2017); source: Ed Hawkins; data source: zamg.ac.at
There’s Hope in Smart Cities.
Cities have always, however, also been the driving forces behind change and innovation. Our future life designs are made in urban spaces! Across the world, more and more cities, from Chicago to Singapore, are taking responsibility and creating strategies for sustainable development.
The Viennese Vision.
‘Smart City Wien’ is the vision of a city that will continue to offer high quality of life, not by taxing the environment but by respecting it!
To achieve this, we need to make a lot of changes. These include new means of transport that give less precedence to the private car and leave more space on the streets for people to spend time and relax; new buildings with other methods of heating and cooling; new models of sharing and communal use, repairing, reusing and so on.
Vienna has developed a comprehensive strategy in order to get there. The Smart City Wien Framework Strategy builds on three fundamental elements:
- First and foremost, Smart City Wien stands for demanding a responsible approach to natural resources. In order to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, politics and administration have pledged to follow ambitious goals in core areas that include energy supply, traffic policy and the renovation of existing buildings.
- Protecting our resources doesn’t have to mean abstinence – quite the opposite! As a Smart City, Vienna will offer high quality of life to all its people, regardless of their income or background.
- In order to achieve these goals, we have one important lever: the development of new, creative solutions. Smart City Wien foots on excellent research and bright sparks. The relevance of digital technologies is sure to continue its growth in the coming years.
We have established a number of goals for all affected fields, from energy and mobility to education and research, in order to achieve these ambitious aims. These will be implemented in stages to be completed by 2030 or 2050. A monitoring process will oversee and regularly examine progress. The projects presented here show that the Smart City Wien vision has already manifested itself in many aspects of our lives.
Smart City Needs Everyone
Smart City Wien is much more than a political agenda with items to be ticked off. How are we to know exactly what will be needed in one, two or three decades from now? For Smart City Wien to be a success, we need to smarten up beyond politics and administration. A city that wants to develop responsibly and be attractive for future generations, that wants to find new residential and work designs, new forms of leisure and cooperation, needs one simple ingredient: its people. Vienna has close to two million brains. Let’s use them!
The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
This post is also available in: German