Towards Smart Urban Systems

Strategies and Policies for the Integrated Design of Sustainable Urban Life

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Session chairs:
Prof. Hans Schnitzer, Graz University of Technology and CityLabGraz

DI Michael Paula, Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology

DI Theresia Vogel, Austrian Climate and Energy Fund

Call for Abstracts

According to the statistics of the United Nations, today more than 50% of world`s population live in Cities. Urbanization is a global trend and so, the development of cities will be essential for the global transition towards a sustainable world. There is no thought that the ongoing developments regarding climate change, squandering resources, changing demography and new challenges for mobility will affect cities more than the rest of the world. City planning, urban energy and mobility concepts and economic systems will have to react. The city of tomorrow has to be regarded as a system and has to use fewer resources and to provide better living qualities.

Urbanization should not be seen as a problem, but as an opportunity chance. It is one of our major challenges to develop cities as intelligent and sustainable areas in which to live. Cities are affected by the global trends more than rural areas, but the solutions for many of our global threats can be or must be developed and implemented within our towns and cities.

On the world market, cities are competing to a greater extent than nations. But what will a city look like and how will it function in order to provide for a ‘high quality of life’ and at the same time to evolve into being a modern, intelligent and effective city? In order for cities to strive to make real progress toward greater sustainability, what types of changes must be accomplished? What possibilities are there and what can we learn from other towns and cities? How do we increasingly effectively envision the future city and how do we then transform those visions into goals, objectives, strategies and timetables for transforming the visions into reality? What pathways can be taken? What can (or must) politicians do to facilitate and to empower the citizens to make the transformations?

How can the entire system and all actors be engaged, empowered and supported to make the changes with thousands of bottom-up initiatives?
Smart City development needs to be built upon consensus among all types of stakeholders from the society, including but not limited to the policy makers, educators, business people, NGOs and others. The needed transformations will require new, long-term types of governance, new system’s approaches to integrate new forms of ecologically sound techniques and technologies. Many attempts that can be seen today might not be transferable to other countries, but might act as a blueprint for locally or regionally adapted approaches.  Certainly information and communication technologies (ICT) will play increasingly important roles of the evolving smarter cities for helping them to more effectively and holistically manage all facets of their cities resource efficient systems. They will be used for a faster integration of citizens, but also for a more efficient use of resources like energy, transportation vehicles and infrastructure. Also, the empowered citizens of the new, smart cities must address the growing inequities, which are tearing many cities apart, globally! In other words, resource efficiency is not enough. Human resource equity is also essential. Few city leaders of the world have taken that challenge seriously until now! To be truly smart cities, we need truly smart leadership at all levels. How will we achieve this? This is among the challenges that must be addressed.

Research and technology policy instruments and appropriate implementation processes play an important role for speeding up the integration and implementation of smart city related technologies. Based on experiences from existing national and transnational programs, new approaches regarding the collaboration of funding institutions along the innovation chain have to be developed, tested, adapted and implemented.  Once again the issue of equity for all must be addressed and of course also making sure that the ‘technologies’ do not destroy the eco-sphere or the psych-sphere or the culture of the city.
There will be a need for new technologies, but the main challenge is how to use the known ones. New financing schemes will be necessary for involving citizens as a “prosumer” (producers and consumers) and investors at the same time. A city is more than the sum of houses and other buildings; new technologies have to address systems, not single spots (areas not only houses and buildings, mobility not cars…). Different disciplines (e.g. energy, mobility, wellbeing and health) must be addressed in an integrated manner. For sure evolving ICT concepts, tools and approaches will play important roles but they must be managed by all not just handed over to the sector experts.

What are or what should be the characteristics of future Smart Cities? There are too many different definitions in the literature. There is a consensus, that Smart Cities are complex systems that provide a high quality of life with the help of new communication techniques. Smart cities will improve resource efficiency (resources used per unit of service). From the various case studies and prototypes, some characteristics are summarized as:

  • Short distances: there is no need for private cars or public transport to cover the daily needs. Shops, schools, work places and recreation areas can be reached by foot or bike.
  • Clean and green environment: a minimum of air emissions, little noise, and abundant green and blue areas.
  • High integration and flexibility: citizens of different age, cultural background and social groups live door to door.
  • Energy system mainly based on renewable energy: no CO2-emissions from the area, houses are passive houses (for heating and cooling). The houses act as mini-power-plants and energy storage installations.
  • Goods &Tools Sharing: Many types of products such as cars, tools, books, can be shared rather than privately owned.  There is no or less need to own a car. The joint use of these types of items can be managed with the help of ICTs and good-will.
  • Informed and Empowered Citizens: Because the ‘smart citizens’ are aware of the dangers of squandering resources and of the value of energy, they behave responsibly.
  • Wise & Fair Political Leadership: The political leadership follows the rules of ‘Smart Governance’ in which citizens are involved in the decision-making processes from the early phases and in an on-going basis..

There also must be regular, respectful and constructive dialogue with societal members within the hinterland.

Themes to be addressed within the workshop:
Theme 1: Developing, and Testing Visions, Policies and Procedures for Smart Cities.
Theme 2: Sustainable Urban Technologies for Designing, Implementing and Monitoring Sustainable Urban Metabolism
Theme 3: The Roles of Funding Instruments and Implementation Processes
Theme 4: The New Roles of Smart City Planning and Developing and Testing the Relevant Indicators
Theme 5: Sustainable Urban Mobility
Theme 6: Addressing the Social Aspects of Quality of Life for All
Theme 7: The Evolving Roles of ICT
Theme 8: Smart Production and Consumption within Smart Cities and among Cities and their Hinterlands

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Abstracts:

Authors are invited to prepare and submit abstracts, in English, of 500 words by May 29th, 2015 via the Global Conference website:

After your extended abstract has been reviewed you will be invited to develop a conference paper on the topic. After the Global Conference, some articles will be selected to be developed for potential publication within one of several Special Volumes of the JCLP that will be developed based upon inputs to the Conference.

Specify that your abstract is meant to be considered for this workshop ‘Towards Smart Urban Systems’.

For more information, please contact:
Prof. Hans Schnitzer, Graz University of Technology and CityLabGraz

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Supporting Publications
Intellectual Contributors
The Creativity and Sustainability Forum
Organised by
  • Clean technology centre
  • Wines of Alentejo