Smarter Together – flagship project for cities of the future
AIT provides scientific support for one of the biggest smart city projects of the European Union.Today urban regions are responsible for about two thirds of energy consumption and three quarters of total CO2 emissions. This shows how important it is that our cities become sustainable, energy-efficient, and smart. The “Smarter Together” project is one of the biggest and most important projects of the European Union in this field, with funding of 24 million euros and 31 consortium partners. AIT was significantly involved in bringing this showcase project to Austria and also provides scientific support in the form of evaluation and monitoring. The project involves implementing innovative solutions for smart urban development in selected districts of Vienna, Lyon and Munich by 2020. The aim is to achieve energy and climate protection targets and to improve the quality of life of the urban population using new technologies. The kick-off meeting with municipalities, companies and research institutes from across Europe took place in Lyon at the beginning of March.
Flagship project in Vienna
AIT supports Vienna in planning and implementing a whole range of measures in the district between Simmering Hauptstrasse and Ostbahn. They range from waste heat utilisation and solar thermal energy to photovoltaics and feeding the local renewable energy into the district heating network. Refurbishing buildings with a total surface area of 75,000 m² should achieve substantial energy savings and reduce CO2 emissions by half. New mobility strategies will focus on increased electric mobility, including car-sharing and bike-sharing schemes. “All these measures follow a holistic approach in the fields of energy, mobility and infrastructure and consistent involvement of the population,” says AIT project manager Hans-Martin Neumann.
Progress check through monitoring and evaluation
This holistic approach leads to complex interactions and increases the challenge to assess the effects of the measures taken in a clear and objective way. AIT has gained substantial expertise in this area in earlier EU projects and is thus responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the “Smarter Together” project. Specially developed methods are used to assess and document the effects of the measures, and to identify the success factors and obstacles in the implementation process. “For instance, introducing a bike-sharing system does not necessarily mean that people use their cars less often and that the goal of lower energy consumption and better quality of life is achieved,” explains Wolfgang Ponweiser of AIT.
Widespread impact on the whole of Europe
The importance of this scientific support is illustrated by the fact that a two-year evaluation phase is planned after the end of the three-year implementation phase. This final evaluation is designed to determine whether the goals of the large-scale demonstration project have been sustainably achieved, as Neumann notes. “After all, the ‘Smarter Together’ project focuses not only on the development of theoretical concepts, but also on concrete implementation – and on creating a role model.” The successful measures identified in the evaluation phase will be implemented in other Vienna districts, in the follower cities Venice, Sofia and Santiago de Compostela, and finally also at a European and international level, such as in Kiev and Yokohama, which have joined the project as observer cities. This ensures a widespread impact on the whole of Europe, thus contributing sustainably to reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions and raising the quality of life in our cities.