Sustainable Cities

The sustainable development of cities and urban regions is facing new challenges in the 21st-century

Sustainable development needs a new and fair type of urban and regional planning. Politics plays an important role. It must plan for the long term and ensure that the limited supply of resources is also available to future generations. It has more than merely local responsibility to the population, it must also assume global responsibility.

Smart cities have many faces

Smart cities, sustainable urban regions and towns – these terms are often used by experts from different fields of science and often with different meanings. There is nothing wrong with this, since the topic has indeed many dimensions. It can be used for the development of multi-generation homes, for intelligent concepts for the use of resources, for public transport and mobility – all of these today come under the term "smart cities".

The term is also used to refer to sustainable urban development in harmony with the countryside. Another use is to explain how cultures and ethnic groups are integrated in the various districts of a city. And as if that was not enough, the term is also found in projects on regional governance or in connection with new technologies that help older people live more independently within their own homes. The variety of interpretations shows that "smart cities" is more than simply a technical model.

Living together needs understanding

Technology assessment (TA) looks at the basic features of the quality of life in the 21st century and tries to identify new social needs and problems before they arise. As an interdisciplinary science, it can help to discover the needs of today's society. It analyses the economic, ecological and social effects of technological developments.These research results help not only policymakers to identify the changes that are needed. They also help citizens to become familiar with new ways of living together. The interdisciplinary methods of TA assist decision-making based on knowledge.

The ITA has been examining the topic of smart cities and sustainable urban regions from a variety of points of view since 2008:

New technologies can help older people be more independent. We have analysed the challenges that older people living in urban regions face every day, in order to identify the technologies that should be developed.

As part of the UN Decade for Sustainable Education, the role of the technical universities as centres for education, research and social commitment in the cities was examined from 2008 to 2010.

Since 2011, we have been observing the tensions between rural and urban regions that result from the different use of resources.

Sharing is in – a City Bike terminal in Vienna