The hotspots of the future are cities and urban areas. We have asked the USC Director Kari Aina Eik for an UdW interview.
What is USC about? According to the United Nations, in 2050 around two-thirds of people will live in urban areas, some of which will be very small. This poses major challenges for the cities. Each city is unique, has its own DNA, and therefore needs individual solutions to drive development forward. A smart and sustainable city approach is the right path. But the challenges can only be tackled together. This means that we need an ecosystem of committed urban management, innovative companies, investors, international organizations and citizens. With United Smart Cities, we have created a global multi-stakeholder platform where these players work together on future projects. We bring together the "architectures" of the future to deliver measurable results that enable a better quality of life for people in cities.
Ms. Eik, United Smart Cities is a successful international program. How did it start?
Kari Aina Eik: Before I joined OiER, I worked for the United Nations for many years. I was already thinking there about what sustainable city development should look like. I believe that the most important thing is to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors in order to solve future urban challenges in the best possible way.
What's the benefit for companies to be part of it?
This is a great opportunity for companies. From two perspectives. On the one hand, participation in USC opens up a large international market for companies, and they get the opportunity to projects and business opportunities. On the other hand, entrepreneurs must ask themselves: How do I design my business model not only economically and innovatively, but also ecologically sustainable? The commitment of the private sector to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals has top priority.
Have local companies already been brought on board?
Yes, a diverse range from traditional medium-sized companies to international corporations such as Siemens or Leitner Ropeways. IT and software development is another particularly exciting and progressive branch of the industry. Vienna is home to true pioneers, such as RUBICON IT and BRAINTRIBE, who are already actively involved in the USC program and are working on innovative projects
Together with BRAINTRIBE, we opened the first United Smart Cities LAB in May 2018 in Kandlgasse in the seventh district of Vienna. With this, we now offer our partners a public space for knowledge exchange, networking (universities, NGOs, etc.) and citizen participation. The idea of the LABs will be extended to other cities in the near future in order to connect globally creative minds and contribute to positive development in cities.
And on an international level? The cooperation with Deutsche Telekom can be mentioned here, for example. They are a committed and valuable partner. The design of networking and communication in cities is an important topic. Together with Europe's largest telecommunications company, we are thinking about the future and opportunities for improvement in this area.
Which industries should be addressed in particular? Our partnerships encompass a wide range of levels at which the needs of cities are addressed. Therefore, it is necessary to bring on board a wide range of companies that are active in the areas of mobility, energy, infrastructure, waste management, etc. and can implement their sustainable and innovative solutions.