about smaty cities smart city Zuerich long

The city of Zurich, a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. The picturesque lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town), on either side of the Limmat River, reflect its pre-medieval history. Waterfront promenades like the Limmatquai follow the river toward the 17th-century Rathaus (town hall).

Two-thirds of the world’s population is concentrated in cities – the population of the city of Zurich is also expected to increase by around a quarter in the next twenty years. Cities will drive social developments forward. At the same time, this growth poses major challenges for cities worldwide. The quality of life of the population should be maintained or improved – at the same time resource consumption should be reduced. New technologies and digital transformation offer great potential for this.

In its “Strategies Zurich 2035” and in specific specialist strategies, the city council defined fields of action with concrete perspectives for Zurich. Numerous projects are already using digital options to implement. Based on an efficient, modern, and highly available urban IT infrastructure, such projects should continue to be the responsibility of the service departments. The Smart City Zurich strategy is intended to help bundle future population requirements, promote innovation, and position the city of Zurich as a smart city. Smart City Zurich thus strengthens the implementation of the Zurich 2035 strategy and various specialist strategies.


“Smart” means networking people, organizations, or infrastructures in such a way that social, ecological, or economic added value is created. The Smart City Zurich strategy creates a framework for making optimal use of the opportunities offered by digital transformation. The intelligent networking of data, sensors, and applications allows new and more efficient solutions for users and for the operation of infrastructures. The stronger networking promotes contact between the population and the administration as well as opportunities for participation. The strategy thus strengthens the networking of politics, business, science, culture, and society for the benefit of all – and with the following goals:

  • Equal opportunities and high quality of life for everyone: Smart City Zurich actively involves the entire population. This includes everyone who lives, works, or visits the city of Zurich.
  • Conservation of resources and sustainable development: The city of Zurich is using the digital transformation to improve environmental quality and to achieve the 2000 watt society.
  • Innovation and an attractive business location: The city of Zurich promotes a modern and reliable digital infrastructure and attractive framework conditions for innovative entrepreneurship.

Digital networking can facilitate feedback from the general public to the authorities and administration, as well as the dialogue about it. Citizens are even better informed and can use a wide range of participation options to help shape the city according to their needs – digitally and in direct contact.

The implementation of Smart City Zurich takes four key guidelines into account:

  • Alignment with the needs of the target groups and challenges of the city: Smart City Zurich is geared towards the city’s long-term goals. New technological solutions are designed to meet urban challenges. The focus is on user-oriented development and the focus on people’s needs.
  • Networking and cooperation between people, organizations, infrastructures: Smart City Zurich promotes internal and external cooperation across borders between service departments and departments as well as between the city administration, the population, business, science, and culture. In this way, digital opportunities for the participation of the population and the shared use of infrastructures are promoted.
  • Availability, self-determination, and protection in dealing with data: Smart City Zurich promotes a reliable and open data infrastructure. City administration data and information that are not subject to any specific protection needs should be made available to the public. When dealing with personal data, data protection and informational self-determination have top priority.
  • Innovation and agile developments: Smart City Zurich promotes the agility of the city with a view to accelerated technological change. Innovative approaches are tested in experimental open spaces, in pilot projects or LivingLabs. Promising solutions are recognized early and can be implemented.

Next years of Zuerich Smart City strategy

For the next few years, the city council has three strategic priorities in the Smart City area. Future forms of integrated public mobility: Social and technical trends such as sharing economy, individualization, multimodality, digital booking platforms, electric mobility, and automated driving are already changing the mobility market today.

The city of Zurich offer in the area of ​​public mobility is to be expanded in a resource-saving manner and made available to users in trial operations: with the replacement of diesel buses with trolleys or electric buses, with the establishment of a mobility platform for the Zurich urban region, with a pilot test for demand-controlled transport options and with Automated driving tests.

Digital city: The city council wants to drive digitalization in the city administration significantly for the benefit of the population and companies. This includes the expansion of the urban online access “My Account” and the development of new online services, for example in the tax area. The digital infrastructure in schools will continue to be modernized. Administrative processes are optimized and consistently digitally designed, technologies such as the Internet of Things are used across the city.

Smart participation: In concrete urban projects, innovative forms of participation and participation by different stakeholders should be used and evaluated. “Smart participation” combines the aspiration of participation by the population and interest groups with the challenges of urban growth and technological change. Successfully tried and tested solutions are to be established across the city. The first such project is the process of reviewing the StadtQuartiere interface, in which e-Participation is used.

Promoting innovation and improvement of administration

Innovation loan for project funding: An innovation loan enables start-up financing for innovative projects by the city administration – especially if they are submitted jointly by different service departments and are pilot-like.

Innovation box for employees: City administration employees are given the opportunity to develop and substantiate their own ideas and thus participate in an open innovation process. This supports the cultural change towards increasingly goal-oriented, customer-oriented, innovative, and interdisciplinary thinking and acting.

Innovation Fellowships: The program enables the inclusion of expertise in ICT and innovation from companies or universities. “Fellows” work in the city administration for six to twelve months. This is how knowledge exchange and innovation are promoted.

Cooperation with the City representatives

The Smart City Lab enables projects to be implemented with various partners. Ideas of digital transformation are tested in pilot projects.

National and international cooperation: Participation and exchange improve cooperation with the private sector, the canton, and other cities on a national and international level.

Data pool: Internal and external data should be shared with institutions or the public. In addition, sensor data from public infrastructures can be integrated and visualized. Personal data protection is preserved.

Kickstart Accelerator: The innovation program brings startups, companies, and the public sector together. Smart City forms a thematic complex in which startups develop solutions for urban challenges.

Hackathons: Within a defined framework, various groups from home and abroad work out innovative solutions to specific questions of the city.

Communication and Dialog with Smart City developers

Project website: All those interested can find information on current Smart City projects in the city of Zurich on a central website. This also makes the project concrete for the general public.

Participation portal: The population has central access to participate in urban projects and processes. At the same time, participation options are being further developed and new forms of digital participation are being tested and established.

Monitoring and reporting: The city council, the municipal council, and the public are informed annually as part of the annual report on the status of implementation. In addition, the instruments and their implementations are regularly checked, evaluated, and, if necessary, adapted or new instruments added.

Smart City Zurich is controlled, coordinated, and gradually implemented by a lean organization. Clear communication communicates the goals of Smart City Zurich internally and externally and becomes part of the dialogue of all those involved.


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Murphy Morningstar
About Murphy Morningstar

I am Murphy. I take care of the overall Smart Cities logic, cities' architecture, and mission control. I am interested in the evolution of cities from the view of the highest standpoint of city management.