The city of Zurich is a global center for banking and finance, which lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. The picturesque lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town), on each side of the Limmat River, reflect its pre-medieval history.
Two-thirds of the world’s population live in cities. The community of Zurich is planning to increase by around a quarter in the next twenty years. Cities will drive social developments forward. This growth poses significant challenges for cities worldwide. Therefore, 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,” the city council defined fields of action with concrete perspectives for Zurich. Various projects are already using digital options to implement based on urban IT infrastructure. Such projects should continue to be the responsibility of the service departments. The Smart City Zurich strategy is to help bundle future population requirements. It should promote innovation and position the city of Zurich as a smart city. Consequently, Smart City Zurich strengthens the implementation of the Zurich 2035 strategy and numerous specialist strategies.
Citizens of Zurich
“Smart” means networking people, organizations, or infrastructures so that social, ecological, or economic added value is created. The Smart City Zurich strategy forms a framework for optimizing the opportunities offered by digital transformation. The intelligent networking of data, sensors, and applications allows new and more efficient solutions for users. The more vital networking promotes contact between the population and the administration. In such a way, the strategy extends the networking of politics, business, science, culture, and society for all. There are the following goals:
- Equal opportunities and high quality of life for everyone. Smart City Zurich actively involves the entire population, including 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: Zurich promotes a modern digital infrastructure and attractive framework conditions for innovative entrepreneurship.
Digital networking can facilitate feedback from the general public to the authorities and administration. Citizens can use a wide range of participation options to help shape the city according to their needs – digitally and directly.
Smart City Zurich Implementation
Four essential guidelines of Smart City Zurich implementation:
- Alignment with the needs of the target groups and challenges of the city. Smart City Zurich focuses on the city’s long-term goals. New technological solutions meet urban challenges. The focus is on user-oriented development and people’s needs.
- Networking and cooperation between people, organizations, infrastructures: Smart City Zurich promotes internal and external interaction across borders between service departments and the city administration, the population, business, science, and culture. In this way, digital opportunities promote the participation of the people and the shared use of infrastructures.
- Availability, self-determination, and protection in dealing with data: Smart City Zurich develops a reliable and open data infrastructure. City administration data and information should be available to the public. So, when dealing with personal data, data protection, and informational self-determination have top priorities.
- Innovation and agile developments: Smart City Zurich supports 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 Smart City Zurich 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 the sharing economy, individualization, digital booking platforms, electric mobility, and automated driving which are already changing the mobility market today.
The city of Zurich’s offer in public mobility is to expand in a resource-saving manner and be available to users in trial operations. For instance, with the replacement of diesel buses with trolleys or electric buses, establishing 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. So, This strategy includes expanding the urban online access “My Account” and the development of new online services, for example, in the tax area. This strategy consists of the modernization of digital infrastructure in schools, optimization, and digital design of administrative processes, using technologies such as the Internet of Things across the city.
Smart participation. In concrete urban projects, innovative forms of cooperation by different stakeholders should be used and evaluated. “Smart participation” combines the aspiration of involvement of 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, with the use of e-Participation.
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 different service departments submitted them jointly, and they are pilot-like.
Innovation box for employees. City administration employees have the opportunity to develop and complete their ideas. As a result, they participate in an open innovation process. This approach supports the cultural change towards increasingly goal-oriented, customer-oriented, innovative, and interdisciplinary thinking and acting.
Innovation Fellowships. The program enables the formation of expertise in ICT and innovation from companies or universities. “Fellows” work in the city administration for six to twelve months. This is the way of promotion of knowledge exchange and innovation.
Cooperation with the Smart City Zurich representatives
The Smart City Lab enables project implementation with various partners. Ideas of digital transformation are tested in pilot projects.
National and international cooperation. Participation and exchange improve collaboration with the private sector, the canton, and other cities on a national and international level.
Data pool. Internal and external data sharing with institutions or the public. Also, 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 Zurich Smart City projects on a central website. This website also makes the project concrete for the general public.
Participation portal. The population has central access to take part in urban projects and processes. Meanwhile, participation options are developing, and new forms of digital participation are being tested and established.
Monitoring and reporting. The city council, the municipal council, and the public can find information on the status of project implementation in the annual report. The instruments and their performances are regularly checked, evaluated, and, if necessary, adapted.
Lean organization control, coordinate, and gradually implement Smart City Zurich project. Clear communication is the goal of Smart City Zurich internally and externally and becomes part of the dialogue of all those involved.