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How Smart are the Cities in Switzerland?
By Mattia Maeder, Junior Manager – Academic Relations & Projects, May 2017
The term ‘Smart City’ is usually linked to the idea of a city using information and communication technologies to allocate resources in an efficient manner. However, there is no universal way of achieving this – priorities and solutions may differ not only from city to city, but also from country to country. What is Switzerland’s approach?
Smart City – an attempt at defining the term
Generally, Smart Cities can be defined as urban, human-made infrastructure and environments which are to some extent monitored, metered, networked and controlled. Therefore, data and information have seemingly become the new building materials of future cities.
The Swiss framework
With the help of Smart Cities, Switzerland aims at protecting natural resources, reducing the use of fossil-fuels and achieving long-term climate protection goals. A website on this topic launched by the Swiss Government, suggests an interdisciplinary approach. Six key components are considered:
- Urban Energy Master Planning: Linkage of space and energy planning
- Smart Buildings: Increase of energy efficiency and self-sufficiency
- Smart Grids: Efficient storage, shifting and exchange of energy (electricity, gas and heat)
- Smart Mobility: Enforcement of electromobility and intelligent traffic management
- Good Governance: Consistent data management
- Stakeholder: Cooperation with amongst others companies, consumers – by pushing strong communication and developing innovative business models.
In the spotlight: Greencity Zürich
Greencity Zürich is a sustainable living environment under development in the South of Zürich. While complying to the interdisciplinary path mentioned above, construction works are expected to end in 2018.
Already in 2012, three years before construction works started, it was the first project of a living area awarded with a 2000-Watt-Label. The 2000-Watt-society is an environmental vision, first introduced in 1998 by ETH Zürich. It aims to reduce the overall average primary energy usage of a world citizen to no more than 2000 watts by the year 2050 – without lowering their standard of living. On average, a Swiss citizen currently uses almost the threefold.
How will Greencity Zürich contribute to this ambitious goal?
Initially, a cooperative approach with urban city planners, public authorities and politics was essential.
From the energy supply perspective, the site will use 100% renewable energy, of which a large amount is produced self-sufficiently by means of Downhole Heat Exchangers, a small Hydropower Plant, Photovoltaics and Wastewater. Furthermore, a smart grid will meter and interconnect all energy sources and appliances in order to steer them according to demand and supply. Moreover, extracting groundwater enables a sustainable water supply.
Thanks to a new train station built within walking distance, the centre of Zürich can be reached within 10 minutes by public transport. Additionally, car-sharing platforms are promoted and bus connections are provided.
The social aspect is also of great importance. Hence, affordable housing with tenants of different backgrounds and age groups are prioritised.
Swiss Innovations coming to India
Many projects are being developed in Switzerland. Not only from a top-down, interdisciplinary perspective mentioned above, but also from a bottom-up view: Smixin offers resource-efficient hand washing solutions and TreaTech envisions to convert the liquid waste disposal industry from a costly and polluting landfill-based solution to a cost-efficient and eco-friendly treatment-based one. The Swiss start-ups embody innovative solutions which can act as puzzle pieces to a more sustainable and smart built environment.
Meet swissnex India and the Swiss startups at the Swiss Pavilion of the 3rd Smart Cities conference, from May 9th to May 12th in New Delhi, and explore the potential contribution of Swiss innovation to make Indian cities smarter.
Read more on the event page.