The programme “Wien gibt Raum” captures and maps Vienna’s public space and the objects that are in it. The collected data is used to centralise official permit procedures for e.g. street cafés, parklets, street festivals and many other projects in public space. Thus, the use of public space for citizens and businesses is to be simplified.
Urban public space is like a modern city’s calling card: locals spend a significant part of their daily lives in public areas, and for visitors, public space makes up a major share of the city’s special flair and ambiance. At the same time, public spaces are expected to meet a variety of different, often conflicting needs and interests.
City administrations are faced with the task of providing an adequate legal and organisational framework for these needs and interests. In this context, it is important to keep public spaces usable and freely accessible while at the same time guaranteeing safe, speedy and smooth traffic flow.
300 000 objects in public spaces
The so-called urban furniture – i.e. objects and structures present in publicly managed areas or intended for them – constitutes a central factor in using and managing public space. Urban furniture is a blanket term for a wide variety of functional and design elements, including, for example, bike stands, newspaper boxes, advertisements and signboards, benches and seats, fountains, snack stalls, kiosks, street cafés and seasonal outdoor eating areas (dubbed “Schanigärten” in Vienna). According to estimates, over 300,000 pieces of urban furniture can currently be found in Vienna’s public space – without even counting pending applications for temporary events, markets and structural elements.
Different departments of the Vienna City Administration are in charge of different aspects of public space management, depending on the intended purpose or type of use. As a result, prospective users of public space may be required to submit applications to different municipal departments for a single event or structural measure. This, in turn, complicates information exchange among the different units and services of the City Administration due to variety of internal information interfaces and different ICT solutions for the management of special uses in public space. At the same time, many official approval procedures require on-site inspections, e.g. as a basis for drawing up expert statements on safety aspects or protecting key aspects of the urban landscape.
One-stop shop for official permits
Against the backdrop of this challenge, the City of Vienna decided to launch a new public space management programme termed Wien gibt Raum. The programme aims to reorganise the distribution of tasks and responsibilities for official permits and the management of objects and activities in public space. Internal administration processes are restructured; at the same time, users are provided with a new customer interface in the form of a (digital or physical) one-stop shop, which is based on customised software solutions.
Moreover, the entire legal framework for official permits regarding public space is evaluated and modernised where necessary. Some of the measures defined by Wien gibt Raum, such as “Implementing an information platform on urban furniture” (task 21) or “Centralising and simplifying approval procedures” (task 22)“ have also been included as specific tasks in the Thematic Concept on Public Space. The programme Wien gibt Raum is scheduled for five years, 2017 to 2022, and combines several projects focusing on different organisational or technological aspects of public space management. Its overall goal consists making it making it easier for local residents and businesses to use public space. Geodata, surveying data and image data of the status quo, as well as data on permits granted and applications submitted are integrated in a single database to facilitate effective networking between City Administration departments. The local population and business community benefit from the programme by getting a single contact – a digital or physical one-stop shop – for all inquiries and applications regarding public space to a single. At the same time, the database provides a reliable, comprehensive overview of all objects and structures present in the city’s public space, making it easier for the City of Vienna to manage public space as a whole. This also provides the basis for “decluttering” urban public space, i.e. removing illegal structures and objects, thus making more room for all user groups in the city and guaranteeing fair use of public space for everyone. So far Vienna has been the only European city to adopt this novel and comprehensive approach.
Mapping the city
The basis for many steps taken for Wien gibt Raum is provided by comprehensive surveying of all objects and structures currently found in public areas. More specifically, mobile mapping is used to document the city’s actual status quo at a given point in time. This task is implemented by Municipal Department 41 (MA 41 – Surveyors), which serves as an internal provider of geodata for the City of Vienna. The MA 41 mobile mapping campaign employs modern imaging technologies to produce a detailed image of the city, which is subsequently used to extract the three-dimensional features of public space in Vienna. In future, the City Administration will have access to a systematic catalogue of all objects and structures in public space, including image data and specific GIS layers for different categories of urban furniture. The GIS layers are a prerequisite for visualising the data (i.e. inventory data and information on official permits granted) in jointly used ICT systems and for administrative monitoring processes. The image data obtained by mobile mapping are made available to the departments of the Vienna City Administration in the form of an easy-to-use, web-based image data service. The new solution can replace some of the on-site inspections or expert opinions required for future administrative processes, thus saving both time and expenses.
Programme Manager David Vladar
Municipal Department 65 – Legal Affairs: Transport and Traffic
This post is also available in: German