Substantial investment in cuttingedge technology is ensuring the historic city achieves giant strides in its green and smart transformation
It is now approaching a decade since Vienna adopted one of the most comprehensive and ambitious long-term city development strategies ever seen, but the series of achievements and milestones over the past eight years as the stunning Austrian capital spearheads Europe's smart city revolution are truly outstanding.
By amalgamating innovations and new technological and digital capabilities, climate action and resource conservation, high social standards and opportunities for participation into an overall vision that inspires people of all ages and prompts desire for change, Vienna is laying very solid foundations for sustainable socio-economic growth to 2050 and beyond.
"Vienna is best known for its incredible quality of life, which is due to the massive public infrastructure built over generations."
Peter Hanke, Executive City Councillor of Finance, Business, Labour, International Affairs and Vienna Public Utilities
Highlights of the all-encompassing blueprint for the vibrant, safe and attractive metropolis include major investments in new and renovated energy efficient building, developments in e-mobility and other low-carbon initiatives in transportation, new and regenerated green areas in the city and sustainable tourism focused on safe and responsible travel. Large investment projects such as the showcase aspern Seestadt development are shifting this new paradigm, boosting urban tourism regeneration and intelligent mobility, with this welcome focus on sustainability, innovation and ingenuity creating a myriad of opportunities for inclusive growth.
"Historically, Vienna has served a rich function as a bridge between the East and West; today it is a massive international hub," says Peter Hanke, Executive City Councillor of Finance, Business, Labour, International Affairs and Vienna Public Utilities, and regarded by many observers as the lead driving force behind the city's smart, green and clean vision. "It is also a growing city, which will soon reach two million inhabitants with a growth rate of more than 10 percent over the last 10 years. Vienna is also an incredibly young city, a city of students, so to speak, with over 200,000 university students. What Vienna is best known for is our incredible quality of life, which is due to the massive public infrastructure built over generations in the form of public housing and public transportation. This is a factor that makes Vienna incredibly unique within other European metropolises. We combine this with a clearly stated goal of a clean government and a green policy where we are aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, which will require a great deal of investment and public works."
Recently ranked the greenest of the 50 most visited cities in the world, Vienna is proud of its many parks and green spaces, countless sustainable developments and superior air and water quality. Officials' policy of easy—and free—access to the magnificent Danube and the miles of river banks is regarded as one of the most important political topics. "We have 20,000 square meters on one river bank and 10,000 square meters on the other," explains Ulli Sima, Executive City Councillor for Innovation, Urban Planning and Mobility.
"Unlike many other cities, we own the electricity company, public transport and waste management department. This is key to our success: we say what they do and which way to go. We have the possibility to steer these companies and their level of service for citizens. Our goal is not to make the most profit, our goal is to have the most liveable city."
The COVID-19 pandemic damaged Austria's tourism industry despite authorities taking prompt and effective action to overcome the unprecedented hurdle and numbers rebounded strongly once borders reopened. "Vienna is one of the top places to host conferences and conventions and we have put extra effort into digitization," says Norbert Kettner, CEO of Vienna Tourist Board. "We have never stopped evolving or developing ourselves and we continue to be seen as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Vienna remains the second highest in terms of tourism revenue generation in Austria; a tremendous achievement for a city destination."