smart city innovation glossary explanation of technologies processes facts developer

Smart City Developer Glossary

This article collects short information about every aspect of the smart city, every new and innovative technology, solution, and principle that may be used in the development of our cities, our business, and maybe ourselves.

A – like Absolute

Active & Assisted Living (AAL)

ICT-based solutions to enhance the autonomy of elderly people. The aim is to maintain and promote an independent lifestyle for people until their advanced years and improve the quality of help and support services and home-based care. The user-centered technologies and applications are designed to be integrated into the immediate home environment. Therefore, the technology adapts to the needs of the user and not vice versa.

Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change (InKA) program

This program will run from 2018-2025, implementing concrete measures to mitigate overheating in the summer months as provided in the Urban Heat Islands Strategic Plan. The program focuses on measures in the following areas: “Water in the city,” “Sustainable urban space,” “Green and open spaces,” “Greening of buildings,” “Measures in the existing urban fabric,” “Air circulation and open spaces” and “Spatial planning and settlement structure.”

Automated vehicles

Also known as Autonomous vehicles, Driverless vehicles, or self-driving vehicles. Vehicles, mobile robots, and driverless transport systems are largely autonomous in their operation. The level of automation varies, from the driver assistance systems that are already in widespread use today to partial, high, and full automation. With increasing automation, the driver is successively relieved of driving tasks and delegates certain steering and control functions to the system.

B – like Be

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

An innovative digital modeling tool for planning, executing and managing a construction project across the project lifecycle. Before realization, the building is visualized as a virtual 3D model (the Building Information Model) integrating all information about every building component.

C – like Cycle

Carbon budget

Because greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for a very long time (several hundred years in the case of CO2, for example), the key indicator is the cumulative build-up of carbon emissions in the atmosphere over time. This is illustrated by the concept of the carbon budget (also known as the CO2 budget or emissions budget). The carbon budget is the amount of CO2 emissions that human activities have emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution, or conversely, the amount that humans can still emit while still having a likelihood of keeping global warming below 2°C; or preferably even below 1.5°C by the Paris Agreement on Climate Action.

Carbon neutral (or climate neutral)

Carbon-neutral or climate-neutral actions and processes cause no greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions or the emissions they produce are fully compensated for and thus have no impact on the climate. The most consistent form of climate-neutral energy supply is greenhouse gas-free energy sources such as sunlight, wind, and hydropower.


The average private motor vehicle stands unused – in most cases parked in the public space – for 23 hours a day. Several initiatives have sprung up in Austria over the past few years to promote more efficient use of cars and parking space, offering commercial or privately organized car-sharing services. At present, car-sharing services are mainly clustered in cities; nationwide coverage with a range of different forms of car-sharing and appropriate vehicles will impact the future of mobility.

Circular Economy

A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. A circular economy strategy that focuses on the most effective ways to re-use things and minimize waste, that includes making sustainable products, empower consumers and public buyers, focus on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high such as electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, food, water, and nutrients. Ensure less waste and make circularity work for people, regions, and cities.

Clean Energy Package for All Europeans

The legislative package agreed by the EU comprises a series of key energy and climate policy regulations: a new version of the renewable energy directive, an amended version of the directive on energy efficiency, the revised energy performance in buildings directive, a regulation establish- ing a modern design for the EU electricity market, and a governance regulation for the energy union.

Climate Protection Programme (KliP Vienna)

The City Council adopted the first KliP Vienna back in 1999, to run until 2009. The sequel, KliP II, runs until 2020 and comprises 37 sets of measures with 385 individual measures in the fields of energy production, energy use, mobility and urban structure, procurement, waste management, agriculture, and forestry, nature conservation, and public relations. In addition, the new climate protection program currently under development (KliP III) will incorporate the climate goals set out in this Framework Strategy and specify measures to attain them.


Carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, mainly results from the incineration of fossil fuels, coal, petroleum, and natural gas. For simplicity and legibility, the term “CO2” is used synonymously with “CO2 equivalents” throughout the Smart City Wien Framework Strategy. The latter term considers the fact that other gases (nitrous oxide, methane, etc.) also have a greenhouse effect.

D – like Deep

Decarbonization pathway

Describes the processes involved in transitioning to a low-carbon – and ultimately zero-carbon – economy and includes carbon-saving measures by individuals, businesses, and governments.

Deep geothermal energy

The utilization of the natural heat found beneath the earth’s surface at depths of between 400m and several thousand meters. Compared to near-surface geothermal energy, the temperatures at these depths are far higher and can thus be used to generate electricity and heating. The temperatures are also sufficiently high that the thermal energy can be used directly without heat pumps.

Deep Learning and Machine Learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence which develops algorithms that can learn and improve from “experience .” Deep learning is an artificial intelligence function that is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks that imitate the workings of the human brain.

Digital building technology

Also known as Smart building technology or Building automation. Building technology refers to equipment used to control and regulate technical installations in buildings and related planning. For example, it ensures that buildings are supplied with heating, water, and ventilation. The digitalization and automation of this technology open up new potentials about energy efficiency, safety, security, and comfort in the “smart home.” Systems can be programmed to make energy-efficient decisions regarding lighting and heating, for example. At the same time, active & assisted living (AAL) systems allow older people to continue living an independent life in their own home for as long as they wish to.

Digital twin

Digital twins are virtual simulations of physical objects and systems. They model the properties and behavior of these real-world objects and systems under specified conditions in real-time and transmit data to the real world via sensors. The objects and systems modeled by the twin can be material or immaterial, such as products, services, or processes. The latter may already exist in the physical world, or a digital twin can be created before they are physically built for planning and development purposes.

District heating

In district heating systems, the heat produced as a by-product of power generation and waste incineration is generally transported using a heated medium (usually water or steam) via insulated underground pipes and supplied to consumers for domestic room heating, hot water, and industrial processes.

District cooling

Since demand for district heating is lower in the warm months of the year, redundant waste heat is fed through large, environment-friendly absorption chillers or cooled using water from the Danube Canal (“free cooling”) to produce district cooling capacity. Like district heating, district cooling is supplied to consumers via insulated pipes in a highly efficient closed-loop energy system.

E – like Environment

Ecological footprint

A sustainability indicator that shows the amount of land needed to support an individual’s lifestyle in terms of food, consumer goods, energy consumption, etc., and also the amount needed to absorb the resulting carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. It also includes the land required to provide space for our infrastructure, including roads and built-up areas. The larger the footprint, the larger the burden on the environment.


In concrete terms, e-government uses information and communication technologies (ICT) by public administrations, in combination with organizational changes and new skills, to improve public services and democratic processes and facilitate the design and delivery of public policies.

European Climate Alliance

The European Climate Alliance brings together 1,700 member municipalities and districts covering 26 European countries and various regional governments, NGOs, and other organizations who are actively working to combat climate change. In terms of members, Climate Alliance is the largest European city network dedicated to climate action. In terms of tangible targets, each member must pass a resolution committing itself to cut CO2 emissions by 10% every 5 years.

European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)

The EU-wide Emissions Trading System was established in 2005. An emission allowance must be surrendered for every tonne of CO2 emitted. Since the total number of emission allowances is fixed across the EU and is annually reduced, the system guarantees emission reductions in the long run without imposing specific emission targets on individual market participants. The scarcity of allowances, combined with their tradability, has created a functioning market for emissions allowances. The “carbon price” determined by supply and demand is a yardstick that shows which carbon reduction measures are more economical than paying for allowances.

F – like Fenomenal

Final Energy Consumption

Final energy is the energy generated from converting primary energy sources, such as coal, lignite, crude oil, natural gas, hydropower, or wind. In this process, the primary energy is converted into a form that consumers can use, e.g., electricity, heat, or fuels.

Fresh air corridor

Zones that are kept undeveloped provide inner-city districts with a circulating supply of fresh air. Development in these zones (buildings, dams, woodland, etc.) is deliberately restricted so currents of fresh air can flow freely. Thus, new air corridors are an important tool for regulating the microclimate in cities.

G – like Global

Gender budgeting

Gender budgeting is the finance policy tool of the gender mainstreaming strategy. It aims to incorporate a gender perspective at all levels of budgeting, so that budget funds are allocated following social principles and in a way that promotes gender equality. It does not mean a separate budget for women but an additional dimension of the traditional budgetary process.

Gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is a gender equality strategy. Differences in social status and structural inequalities between women and men are to be identified, analyzed, and the causes eliminated. Essentially, gender mainstreaming is a way of ensuring that decision-making on policy measures, priorities, and projects takes due account of women’s and men’s different interests, needs, and lifestyles from the outset.

Gender pay gap

The gender pay gap is the percentage difference between the average earnings of men and women.


These days, traditional forms of government are no longer sufficient to ensure effective use of the volume and variety of information or the creativity available in society. For this reason, administrations are opening up and initiating collaborative action with other social groups, e.g., citizens, the business community, and other local or regional authorities, alongside the traditional hierarchical forms of government.

Grey energy

Grey energy refers to the (considerable) amounts of energy consumed (and the respective “grey” CO2 emissions produced) over the entire lifecycle of a product (incl. raw material extraction, transport, storage, disposal).

Gross Regional Product

The regional equivalent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is usually presented in nominal terms using the market prices of the respective year and is used to analyze regional economic development and make comparisons with other federal provinces. To calculate the gross regional product, the national subsidies and taxes on products are allocated to the individual federal provinces in keeping with their shares in regional gross value creation, resulting in the GRP.

H – like Healthy

Heat pump

Heat pumps take heat energy from water, the ground, or the air, bring it to a usable temperature, and transfer it into heating or hot water plumbing systems. The more efficient a heat pump is, the less electricity is required for its operation and recovery of the desired heat energy. In addition, the ambient heat captured by heat pumps comes from regional renewable resources and causes zero local greenhouse gas emissions.

I – like Individual

Indicator structure of the Framework Strategy

Indicators are parameters based on measurable proxy values to describe subject matter that is otherwise hard to grasp. To facilitate the evaluation and documentation of the Smart City objectives, an indicator structure was designed to provide a structured overview of the individual ob- objectives and their indicators. Indicator sets were elaborated for those objectives that cannot be mapped with a single indicator. These sets comprise one or more indicators to be used for evaluating the respective objective.


Refers to the combination of multiple modes of transport in a seamless travel chain, e.g. traveling to the rail or underground station by bike.

Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) is a generic term for a network of infrastructures, devices, and other objects that can interact with one another by exchanging data. These smart networks can be used, for example, to save energy, conserve resources, and for smart control of infrastructure systems.

J – Joy

K – Key

L – like Li*

Light pollution

Refers to the brightening of the night sky by artificial light sources, which can negatively impact flora and fauna and people’s health. Light pollution can come from various sources: Street lighting, Floodlighting of public buildings and landmarks, Illuminated commercial signs and advertising, Light from homes.

Living labs

Living labs embody a research concept, often collocated in a user-centered, territorial context (e.g., a city or region) that examines the integration of research and innovation processes within the scope of a public-private partnership.

M – like Matter

Material passport

A digital tool that provides information about the material composition of buildings and the quality and quantity of the materials they contain. This has multiple uses and benefits: as a planning and optimization tool to support efficient use of materials in the construction and later disassembly of buildings, to document details of the materials for later recycling and recovery at the end of the building’s useful life, and as a basis for the creation of a material inventory at the municipal level (cf. urban mining). In addition, new digital planning tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be used to create a digital material passport and manage the data over the entire lifecycle of a building.


The urban microclimate is the climate of the city or a small area of it, which directly impacts local people. The urban microclimate is influenced by several factors, including solar radiation, air circulation (wind), and building facades.

Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS)

Refers to the increasing availability of mobility solutions that are consumed as a service. Usually, this entails choosing from a wide range of mobility options (e.g., about the mode of transport or vehicle size). As a result, MaaS is expected to generate benefits in terms of efficiency (e.g., fewer privately owned motor vehicles with low intensity of use), convenience (e.g., the central provider takes care of vehicle maintenance and functioning), and also sustainability (e.g., more considered mobility decisions due to availability of alternative options and greater cost transparency). The fast-growing trend towards service-based mobility is most pronounced in urban centers.

Mobility platform

Internet-based platforms allow transport providers to be accessed at any time. From basic travel information and booking through to end-to-end organization of an entire travel chain, a wide range of digital formats opens up new avenues in passenger transport to make the whole process easier and more convenient. Apps give customers user-friendly mobile access to mobility platforms via smartphone or tablet.


Refers to the routine use of different modes of transport for different journeys over a specific period, which usually varies between a week and a month (multimodal lifestyle). A multimodal interchange in the public transport network offers alternative options for intermodal travel chains.

N – like Neutral

Nearly-zero-energy building standard

Nearly-zero-energy buildings are characterized by very low energy requirements, with a considerable share of these requirements covered by renewable energy sources, either on-site or close by. This standard can be met either through stricter specifications for the building shell (very low heating requirements) or through increased renewable energy sources. The European nearly-zero-energy building standard is being introduced step by step for all new buildings in Vienna, as it applies to all new public buildings since 2018 and all buildings from 2020.

O – like Open

Open government data

Open government data are data collected by the public administration – including, e.g., geodata, traffic data, and environmental, budget, and statistical data – and made available to the public in machine-readable form to allow automatic data processing. Open standards for interfaces and software allow greater transparency, participation, and collaboration. Alongside the technical interfaces, the administration is also required to provide a legal framework. No personal data are published.

Organic Cities Network Europe

The network of several European cities and municipalities is committed to supplying urban populations with organic produce and promoting organic farming in urban and suburban areas.

P – like Position

Paris Agreement on Climate Action

The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, is an agreement between 195 member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out a global action plan to avoid climate change as a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. Its goal is to keep human-induced global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, striving for 1.5°C if possible, and to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the 21st century.


This term defines energy sources that are constantly renewed or replenished and hence are permanently available. Renew- ables include sunlight, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal heat, and waste. Renewables are carbon neutral. However, even with renewable energy sources, sustainable use is only assured if the consumption rate does not exceed the renewal rate.

Q – Quantum

R – like Responsible

S – like Sustainable

Secondary raw materials

Secondary raw materials are raw materials that are recovered from recycled waste. They serve as raw materials for new products but differ from primary raw materials in that they are not extracted from natural resources but processed from recycled waste and fed back into the economic cycle for a second time or multiple times. Thus, the use of secondary raw materials conserves natural resources and contributes to sustainable development.

Sensitive urban renewal

The primary focus of “sensitive urban renewal,” a successful Viennese model introduced nearly 40 years ago, has always been on affordable housing based on subsidy schemes, social sustainability, and a comprehensive renewal strategy in the “core city.” The resulting positive trends in urban renewal zones’ architectural, social, and economic development are evident. In addition, targeted refurbishment and new-build projects upgrade and rejuvenate local neighborhoods. The teams of experts at the respective Local Area Renewal Offices serve as the hub for all renewal processes and all questions relating to housing, the local environment, and good community relations within neighborhoods.

Services of General (Economic) Interest (SGI/SGEI)

Prudent and reliable provision of public goods and services that entail a special responsibility for the community at large. These comprise, e.g., energy, water, waste and sewage disposal, education, culture, medical services, or public transport. They are characterized by a guarantee of equal, universal access, security, and continuity of provision and – where the state is the provider – by democratic scrutiny and public accountability. Thus, for example, in Austria, the definition of services of general economic interest and how they are delivered typically involves a high degree of municipal autonomy.

Sharing economy

The sharing economy is often seen as a route to greater social responsibility and conservation of resources. The term refers to community gardens, private cars, food-sharing initiatives, or the City Bikes bike hire scheme. Commercial sharing schemes are now gaining ground alongside private and non-profit initiatives, with online platforms frequently acting as the interface between providers and customers.

Spatial energy planning

Combines spatial planning and energy planning disciplines to ensure a stable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable energy supply. Its role is to integrate energy considerations into planning processes such as land use designation and secure the energy supply for new urban developments of the future and the existing city. To this end, the spatial structure of the power generation and distribution system needs to be aligned with the location and requirements of energy users. Spatial energy planning likewise ensures that urban planning factors are taken into account during the development and planning of energy infrastructure projects.

Start-up ecosystem

A start-up ecosystem consists of all individuals and stakeholders involved in a company start-up, interacting as a system. Thus, the ecosystem comprises many people and organizations – from venture capital donors, incubators, and business angels to large corporations, IT providers, and research institutions – all directly or indirectly influencing the various development stages of the start-up.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, comprising 17 universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, which all 193 member states are committed to implementing by 2030

T – like Territorial

U – like Unique


Upcycling is the process of transforming waste products or (apparently) useless materials into brand new products. As opposed to downcycling, this form of recycling turns waste into a material or product of higher quality. This recycling and reuse of existing materials reduce the consumption of natural resources.

Urban farming

Also known as City farming or Urban agriculture. Generic term for different types of primary food production in urban conurbations and their immediate hinterland for consumption within that same region. It comprises the growing of vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs, the products of which are chiefly used within the city, and urban forms of market gardening also include animal husbandry in predominantly urban areas.

Urban heat island effect

Urban settlement structures differ significantly from the surrounding rural areas in many respects, including climatic factors such as precipitation, wind conditions, and temperature – one consequence of this are so-called urban heat islands. Urban heat islands are mainly caused by surface development in cities that absorb heat and remove the natural layer of vegetation and moisture-retaining soil. As a result, the temperature differential between the city and the hinterland can be 12°C, placing a significant health burden on city-dwellers.

Urban Heat Islands Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan gives detailed descriptions of various possibilities for cooling urban heat islands. In addition, it contains precise information regarding the effect of individual measures on the climate in the city and the urban neighborhood and provides details of benefits and possible obstacles associated with implementing the various measures and the likely installation and maintenance costs.

Urban mining

Densely built-up urban areas are vast “repositories” or “banks” of raw materials. Urban mining is a concept for the systematic inventory mapping and reclamation of the (secondary) raw materials in buildings, infrastructure, and products that would otherwise waste. It also includes research and development of new technologies for increasingly efficient recovery of these raw materials and smart new uses.

V – like Virtual

W – like World

X – like Xenogeny*

Y – like Yourself

Z – like Zero

Last update: Jun 2021

*Xeonegny – production of offspring completely unlike either parent.
*Li – Chinese ancient study about the geometry of nature.


Subscribe to Updates

Latest Posts

Smart Cities
vienna smart city wien sq
Vienna Smart City