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Smart Cities - The future of green and energy-efficient cities

January 14, 2016

More and more cities and regions in Austria are developing toward a sustainable way of life. Production, distribution, and consumption of energy are happening in a sustainable way with the help of intelligent solutions.

What Constitutes a Smart City?
Smart cities are energy-efficient and resource-conserving cities with a low rate of emissions. In addition, all of these cities provide a high quality of life particularly in the fields of housing, work, and recreation. Urban regions with zero emissions will be created in an environmentally friendly way by using green technologies. Fundamental starting points for creating “smart” regions are an increase in power efficiency, more renewable energy, and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The focus in smart cities development is on launching “systems of systems” which link individual technical systems with each other in an intelligent way. Next to the technical systems, concerns relating to public transportation, information and communication technology need to be considered in the development of a smart city.
An example of this is the new and only recently opened central railway station in Vienna . It is supplied with environmentally friendly district heating and district cooling. Furthermore, there is a photovoltaic system as large as 12,917 sq.ft. on the flat roof which provides the energy for lighting the railway station.

Future Challenges for Cities
New challenges for urban areas include matters of clean water and air, access to education, and parking space. “Smart Parking,” for instance, helps car drivers with parking by means of an application for mobile devices. It uses video analytics and sensors to detect vacant parking spaces. Another similar real time service are the “Uber” taxis. Uber is an app that allows the user to order and follow the position of a taxi and also pay for it via the application.

Establishment of Smart Cities in Austria
The city of Vienna has already established a couple of smart city projects. Besides the above mentioned railway station, there is the “Open Government Data” project. This gives companies and citizens access to plenty of data which allows them to develop new services and applications. In addition, “smartphone parking” has become popular in many Austrian cities. An application gives you the opportunity to conveniently request your parking receipt with your phone and provides you with a city map and information about your parking spot at the same time.

Not only Austria’s capital Vienna is keeping pace with the trend toward green technologies. The continually growing city of Graz in Styria is also getting “smarter”. Low floor trams of the newest generation are used to improve the public transportation network, and by 2020 Graz will have districts which generate more energy than they use. Currently there is an 1,179 acre area in Graz where an urban quarter is being built which will have extranet, geothermal energy, solar power, and a block-type thermal power station that runs on biological methane.
In the future “urban gardening” as well as “urban farming” will be fostered in smart cities to take advantage of over 2 million gardens, 1.2 million balconies, and almost a million existing patios and a number of inner courtyards in Austria. Along with these green spaces in densly populated areas, “community gardens” are planned which will create meeting places and more companionship in the public arena.