Smart Cities

Around the world the city is the predominant model for organizing how people live together (and compete with each other) in an increasingly globalized economy. More than half the world‘s population is already living in cities – in Europe the proportion will be 85 % by 2050! In view of the global economic paradigm this trend appears stable and irreversible. Cities are first and foremost where we live. At the same time they are economic regions in which the bulk of our consumption of energy and resources takes place. They are the origin of environmental damage and of emissions of waste and greenhouse gases. But can the cities and urban regions of the future be worth living in, resource-efficient and ecologically sustainable in spite of this?

The idea of the Smart City

The idea of a Smart City takes advantage of a further trend of our time – the computerization of our domestic and economic surroundings and the associated technical infrastructure in all walks of life, i.e. equipping them with computing power and instrumentation (embedded systems) and linking them up via information networks such as the web or mobile telephony.
As previously unimaginable quantities of information become available, along with entirely new control options, they should be used in a Smart City to meet the great and complex challenges of our age, too.

The potential of the Smart City

  • New ways of informing citizens and of involving them in participative processes
  • New forms of governance
  • New business models for providing, linking up and controlling technical infrastructure (water, waste, energy, transport) across sectors, so as to enhance energy and resource efficiency and decrease the associated emissions
  • Citizens have more choice of urban infrastructure (administration, energy, transport) and using it is made simpler
  • High-quality, compact infrastructure for living, transport and production requires less space for roads and accommodation, resulting in more green and more urban space worth living in
  • Improved monitoring and better understanding of the ecological and (micro-)climatic interrelations and the resulting implications for directing urban planning
  • The high quality of the city‘s living space makes it very attractive for business

So alongside classical technological development BMVIT puts resources into researching systemic connexions and developing system solutions which are technologically, ecologically and socially compatible.

Research programmes

Researching and developing technologies relevant to the overarching social challenge of urbanization is conducted by way of the following research programmes.

The programme "City of Tomorrow"

  • Extending our understanding of the systems
  • Developing new methods and technologies
  • Demonstrating feasibility on a relatively small scale
  • Focal points: the city as system, the energy system, energy-surplus districts (new builds and renovation)

The Climate & Energy Fund's Smart Cities Initiative

Substantial demonstration and pilot projects in which established and/or fairly mature technologies and systems are linked together as pioneering interacting complete systems.

The RTI initiative "Urban Future"

Cooperation between the BMVIT programmes "City of the Future", "Mobility of the Future" and "ICT of the Future" on urban issues.

Further BMVIT activities

Developing a national RTI strategy for Smart Cities

Within the RTI Study Group 2 "Climate change and resource scarcity" urban development was selected as one of the three central coordination topics.
The Study Group worked hard on a comprehensive strategy, with experts from several ministries matching information about their respective inhouse activities and arranging for cross-programme coordination.

The Study Group has published the findings from this process in the brochure "Findings of the Stakeholder Plenum 'Urban Development/Smart Cities'" (in German only).

The event "Smart Cities Week"

Since 2013 BMVIT has organized the Smart Cities Week in collaboration with the Climate & Energy Fund. This is the central event in Austria demonstrating the latest technological, political, social, ecological and economic steps toward Smart Cities.

It was held for the third time in 2015, this time in collaboration with Salzburg City Corporation; the focus was on linking technical and social innovations intelligently, with the avowed aim of maintaining and improving future generations' quality of life.

Coordinating the JPI Urban Europe

Since 2009 BMVIT has been committed to the Joint Programme Initiative Urban Europe (JPI Urban Europe), aimed at a comprehensive, system-oriented approach to urban challenges, taking sociological, economic and ecological issues into account as well as technological aspects.

As part of this the second call for proposals for transnational implementation projects in the field of Smart Cities was launched in the winter of 2014/2015; the framework here is the ERA-NET COFUND Smart Cities and Communities, co-financed by Horizon 2020. The first joint call for proposals went out in 2012, and led to ten projects.

Coordinating ERA-NET Smart Cities and Communities

18 national and regional RTD funding programmes have joined up in ERA-NET COFUND Smart Cities and Communities to launch a common call for proposals for transnational collaboration projects to be funded jointly.

In national budgets a total of 18.5 million Euro (3.2 million Euro for Austria) is available; the European Commission will top this up with up to 50 % of the national/regional budget. The deadline for proposals expired in April 2015.

Two more structured processes are under way:

  • Negotiations with China to arrange a further international call for research proposals to do with Smart Cities topics.
  • Linking up and coordinating national RTI programmes and national/regional structural-fund programme arrangements in the Smart Cities field within the countries taking part.

Participating in the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Smart Cities and Communities

With "EIP Smart Cities and Communities" – EIP SCC (launched in 2012) the European Commission aims to push the development and implementation of Smart City technologies ahead.

Here the European Commission advocates coordinating research funding better in future, so as to promote showpiece projects in the fields of energy, transport and ICT (information and communication technology) in urban areas.

The energy, transport and ICT industries are invited to collaborate with cities and to integrate their technologies so as to cater to cities' needs better. Experts from the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) are members of the high-level steering group set up by the European Commission, of the Action Cluster which has meanwhile been organized, and of a stakeholders' platform.

Here Austrian firms, research organizations, cities and lobbies have the opportunity to follow the process and to send comments and/or questions to BMVIT on the documents and presentations drawn up in the course of the process; these can then be taken into account at the European level.

Representing Austria in the SET Plan

The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan was launched in 2007, since when it has proved its worth as a key steering instrument in the European Union for implementing the "Energy Union".

In this context the European Commission is mainly concerned to push ahead with shaping European research into energy issues and with developing a Strategic Energy Technology action plan to plug the implementation gaps in boosting energy efficiency, employing renewable sources of energy and decreasing dependence on fossil sources.

Collaborating with the technology platform Smart Cities Austria

The Technology Platform Smart Cities Austria (TPSCA) was launched in 2011 to represent the interests of Austrian industry in the SET Plan Industry Initiative Smart Cities and Communities and in the EIP SCC, which emerged from it in 2013.

Collaborating with the Austrian Smart Cities and Regions Platform

In 2013 BMVIT initiated the Smart Cities and Regions Platform jointly with the Climate and Energy Fund and the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns. Together with stakeholders from research and industry the Platform works out issues of shared interest to the Austrian municipalities in the field of Smart Cities and developing requirements to apply to the progress of technology.