Vienna’s Smart City Framework


Vienna is the capital city of the Republic of Austria, a small land locked country in Central Europe. It is the country’s largest city and seat of many international organisations (official UN seat, OSCE headquarters) (Urbact, n.d.). The city has been a site of continuous habitation since 500 BC and today its 1.7 million inhabitants live on an area of 414 square kilometers (Urbact, n.d.). It is known for its musical legacy, architectural heritage and high quality of life. UN Habitat recognised it as the most prosperous city in the world in 2012/13. The city center of Vienna was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and in July 2017, it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger (City of Vienna, n.d.). Vienna has changed significantly in the 25 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain amidst a climate of deep regional and international transformation. Despite these radical changes, the city has done quite well for itself: Today, it is one of the fastest growing metropolises in Europe, and if this growth continues as projected, Vienna will have two million residents by around 2030 (Vienna City Administration, 2014). This means that over three million people will be living in the greater metropolitan area (Vienna City Administration, 2014). This growth poses challenges for land development, the transport network, the housing and labor markets as well as for social services (Vienna City Administration, n.d.).

“In Vienna, as in every other major European city, immigration and diversity form part of everyday life. For effective social cohesion in an urban society, it is paramount that politics, administration and civil society openly embrace this diversity. Immigration and a diverse population contribute significantly to a city’s economic, social and cultural success. Vienna recognises this challenge with its policies in the areas of diversity and integration, which have become indispensable to openly meeting these urban developments.” 

– DI Rudi Schicker, Executive City Councilor for Urban Development and Transport

Vienna’s Urban Framework

The state of Vienna is headed by the federal administration, which is composed of federal state and decentralised districts. The municipality of the state of Vienna has three constituent bodies namely, the City Council, the City Government and the Mayor. The City Council is the highest authority of Vienna, which has the task of supervising the municipality, its budget and allocating functions to the constituent City Government and the Mayor (City of Vienna, n.d.).

One third of Vienna’s entire urban land is made up of conservation areas, protected landscapes, a national park and similar protection initiatives (Urbact, n.d.). The municipal area of Vienna has allocated projects in various sectors such as building and infrastructure, education and research, transport, energy, environment, health, social services, and urban development. They are the key areas for action of the City Administration (City of Vienna, n.d.). Some of the strategies adopted by the City Council for these key areas include:

  • Climate Protection Programme (1999-2020)
  • STEP 2025 – UD Principles and Strategies (2011-2025)
  • Vienna’s Research, Technology and Innovation Strategy (2014-2020)
  • Municipal Energy Efficiency Program
  • Digital Agenda Vienna (2004)
  • Urban Mobility Plan Vienna(2013)
  • Planning and evaluation of high-rise projects (2002)

Vienna’s Smart City Framework

Vienna is considered to be one of the most livable city in the world due to its high quality urban infrastructure, educational sector, intact environment and ample green spaces, public transport network and affordable housing services. As the city sees an increase in demand for these services, there is a need to further develop the city’s capacity. The City Council of Vienna launched the Smart City Wien Framework Strategy 2050 in the year 2011. The strategy focuses on preservation of the city as a livable, socially inclusive and dynamic space by 2050. The present framework strategy began in 2013 and is directed at citizens, enterprises, non-profit institutions and the public sector (Urschitz, n.d.). The framework strategy is generated with a long-term approach by the city council and external stakeholders such as the civil society, research institutions and the private sector. Various policy groups within the city administration and other European cities that are implementing smart city development have contributed to the smart city framework. The city council, which also acts as the state parliament, adopts the municipal budget plan and allocates financial balance for the framework strategy.

The Smart City Wien Agency brings together all existing urban development projects (as mentioned) under the municipal area to support the goals of the framework. The strategy includes all existing policies and guidelines and restructures the entire development plan, encompassing all areas of municipal administration. The framework strategy acts like a lattice with various themes and concepts that work with specific targets for implementation (Urschitz, n.d.).

Objectives of Smart City Wien

Objectives and Goals of the Framework

As a smart city, Vienna’s key goal is to manage growth without growing the consumption of resources by leveraging innovation to sustain a high quality of life. The illustration on the next page summarises the three key objectives / pillars of this framework and the ten thematic areas.

  1. Resource Preservation: The foremost aim of the smart city framework is to preserve resources by developing and modifying the sectors of energy, mobility, infrastructure and building management. The objectives and milestones set by the strategy are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to improve energy efficiency and increase use of renewable source of energy (Framework Strategy).
  2. Improving Quality of Life: Creation of affordable and attractive housing, the provision of low-cost and resource conserving mobility and the financing of services of general interest on a larger scale to improve quality of life of the citizens of Vienna. This is in addition to Vienna’s work on gender mainstreaming in the urban development sector over the last two decades.
  3. Development in Innovations: Making Vienna a leader of innovation through creation of top-end research hub, strong economy and upgraded education system (Framework Strategy).

The smart city framework provides assistance for specialised ongoing strategies (as mentioned) in various sectors such as energy conservation, climate protection, and urban development etc. with a time span of 7-10 years. These are the objectives of the Smart City Wien Framework:

  • Significantly reducing emissions (CO2, greenhouse gases) and, as a result, achieving EU climate protection targets.
  • Significantly reducing energy consumption.
  • Significantly increasing the use of renewable sources of energy (e.g. in public buildings).
  • Raising awareness in the wider public about responsible use of resources (energy, water)
  • Giving citizens an active role by inclusive planning.
  • Promoting multi-modal transport systems by improving the public transport network positioning Vienna as a model European environmental city and as a leading European center for research and technological development at an international level Components of the Framework.

The Smart City Wien framework strategy is a comprehensive and long-term approach with concrete sub-projects that will be implemented effectively in short and long timeframes. These sub-projects are linked to the strategy framework broadly as depicted in the following diagram (Framework Strategy):

Smart City Wien – Components

Together with the aspects of resource conservation, development in innovation and improving quality of life, concrete details are laid down for each of these aspects and each aspect is hence subsumed under its overarching goal that is to be attained by means of thematic target projects governed by the municipality of Vienna (Schmid).

Implementation Process

The smart city framework is implemented in two ways – first, it outlines policies with dedicated resources and second, it connects the various organisational units of the city, strengthening co-operation within and outside the municipal administration (Framework Strategy). City of Vienna, over the course of time will take the following steps as a part of the implementation process of Smart City Wien (Framework Strategy):

  1. Establishment of lighthouse project to pave the way for numerous follow-up projects.
  2. Inclusion of citizens and experts in decision-making process through direct interpersonal contact and through
  3. Training, recruitment and knowledge management of employees in Vienna City Administration through human resource development.
  4. Promotion and branding of Smart City Wien Strategy Framework through strong and steady communication,
    constant information exchange and dialogue with the stakeholders and public.
  5. Solicitation and consultation from partners in corporate sector, ministries, other European metropolises to strengthen smart city objectives.

Monitoring of the Implementation Process

A set of indicators or benchmark have been established to help monitor the implementation and functioning of Smart City Wien Framework. These indicators comprise of status, target and policy benchmarks. They will measure the efficiency and performance of the three key objectives of the framework at regular intervals. This will be done through mandatory data assessment and analysis.


The framework applies to the existing city fabric, acknowledges the ongoing development strategies. It forms a comprehensive approach to smart development. Vienna’s Smart City Framework builds its objectives by leveraging the on-going interventions and strategies. It reinforces them for faster and more efficient implementation. It also ensures cooperation and strengthen the ties between policies and organisational units at the city and national level. Indian Smart cities have the opportunity to adopt a similar approach through convergence as advocated under the New Urban Agenda.