12. June 2012
Cities in Europe
Vienna as forward-looking digital metropolis
At its annual conference at the beginning of June in Vienna City Hall, the association Major Cities of Europe, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, discussed the future of digital information and communication technologies (ICT) in local and city authorities.
More than 300 participants assembled in Vienna City Hall, including around 30 speakers from European and American cities. The theme of the conference was digital information and communications technologies as the driving force behind tomorrow’s cities. Urban information and communication are rapidly changing, and paper is being increasingly replaced in public offices by digital and online technologies. Cities are using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their inhabitants and with their own staff. They utilise mobile services and even develop their own applications. There are open data platforms for the public, and city administrations are interested in being involved in the future of the Internet (Web 2.0). Experts from Europe and America outlined examples of initiatives, applications and strategies in the form, for example, of e-government or smart cities (sustainable, environment- and climate-friendly cities of the future).
Vienna as pioneering digital cityVienna as the host city presented itself as a digital pioneer and model. Leading members of the city administration demonstrated this on the basis of specific projects and initiatives. “The city administration is working hard to provide all citizens with quality services and to meet their expectations, answer criticism and implement suggestions without delay,” said mayor Michael Häupl in his opening address. Talking of Vienna’s ventures into e-government, he pointed out that Vienna was much more than a virtual city and offered a quality of life that would be difficult to imagine elsewhere. Sandra Frauenberger, executive city councillor responsible for ICT, presented the Vienna Charter as a forward-looking project that made possible citizen involvement “in a form not otherwise seen in Europe to date”. She described the idea of “elaborating basic principles for collaboration online and offline” (https://charta.wien.gv.at/start/charta). The city of Vienna was a “pulsating centre of modern information and communications technologies,” she concluded.
“Files should come to the citizens and not vice versa,” is the way that the city of Vienna defines its ICT policy on its huge online server (www.wien.at). ICT is meant to improve the quality of life, to make Vienna attractive as a business location, to act as a driving force for innovation and a cornerstone for modernisation of city government, to operate economically and to focus on the citizens as users. These principles and aims were illustrated by members of the city administration on the basis of specific examples. Wolfgang Müller, deputy head of the Chief Executive Office, explained general strategies. Norbert Weidinger and Rudolf Hellerschmid, (MD-OS), described how e-government and MA 14 functioned in Vienna as a large internal service provider. Waltraud Rumpl, head of information in the Press and Information Service (MA 53), described how social networks were used in the administration and the rules that had been set up in that regard. Finally, some model projects were presented: Thomas Skerlan-Schuhböck, MD-OS, explained how the pioneer project Open Government Data made official data available on the Internet. Project manager Eva Czernohorszky from the innovation subsidiary ZIT, chaired a workshop discussing the WienWin initiative (http://www.wienwin.at/), a database for innovative products and services by Viennese businesses. This innovation pool sees itself as a network for future-oriented projects in Vienna.
Vienna as giant data poolSome facts and figures from the presentations to conclude: the city administration has 4,200 servers, 56,500 computers, 26,000 printers, 54,000 telephones and 17,000 mobile devices. Some 50 service areas are available digitally. MA 14 functions as an internal service provider for 140 municipal departments and 35,000 employees. It also has 470 employees operating an information portal for department heads. There are 2,908 people actively involved in the internal staff network “wien.team”. As far as mobile phones are concerned there are now 13,500 in use by the city government compared with around 2,000 in 2002. Every month 100 new ones are added, mostly mobile smartphones and tablets, for which there are already over 58,000 apps. MA 14 also pays great attention to data security.
Major Cities of EuropeFollowing on from conferences in Rome, Paris, London, Oslo, Dublin, Zurich and Berlin, the ICT city conference met for the first time in June 2012 in Vienna. The MCE (Major Cities of Europe) is an independent group of ICT representatives of innovative European cities and authorities. It celebrated its 30th anniversary in Vienna City Hall. A total of 41 members from 18 countries are listed on the Internet. Vienna is the only member city in Austria.
Major Cities of Europe - Conference Vienna
Presentations at the ICT conference can be downloaded here:
PID/Schaub-Walzer, shutterstock, Manfred Rohrhofer, Wiener Charta, Kurt Keinrath