Vienna provides space (Wien gibt Raum)



Policy areas

Organisation name The city of Vienna

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Contact person: Timon Jakli, Programme Marketing Manager/ Press Relations

First prize winner in category Digital in EPSA 2021:

Public space is the flagship of a modern city, where different interests and needs come together. In Vienna, various departments of the public administration are responsible for individual aspects of approval procedures in the public space. Potential users often need to consult several municipal departments for a single project.

The project rethinks the use of public space by citizens and businesses: starting from an innovative customer interface, the underlying procedures up to the feedback to the customers are reorganised in the light of digitisation. With ‘Vienna Provides Space’, the City of Vienna has developed a target-oriented digitisation strategy that makes it easier for citizens to apply for permits and for the responsible departments to operate more efficiently. Here, digitisation acts as a catalyst for legal and procedural simplifications as well as for the development of a new approach to customer communication.

The goal is seamless end-to-end digitisation without media disruptions throughout the whole customer journey. The responsibilities for the management of public space are reorganised and the coordination between stakeholders is improved through a jointly useable, geodata-supported IT system. Furthermore, the legal framework is being modernised.

The basis for many steps of the programme is the digitisation of public space with modern surveying methods. The high-precision geodata enables virtual site inspections, data-based planning, and faster and more efficient proceedings. Based on this data, simplifications for citizens and businesses throughout the whole processes are being implemented until 2022.

The comprehensive solution approach of  this project has a high transfer potential for urban spaces. All larger cities in Europe face a similar problem: an ever-increasing pressure on the use of public spaces. By integrating the surveying and recording of public spaces into an overall concept of process digitisation, the Viennese approach exceeds conventional approaches.

International knowledge transfer has already been carried out with Berlin and Paris, both of which are dealing with similar problems. However, the linking of geodata, administrative software and internal processes in this project reaches beyond their solutions. The Viennese approach has already been presented comprehensively to representatives of the cities of Berlin, Zurich and Dusseldorf, who considered the findings by the project highly transferable. International transfers were conducted with representatives from Ethiopia and Singapore. Within Austria, there is a lively exchange on this topic with the cities of Graz and Linz.

The project ‘Vienna Provides Space’ already serves as a best-practice example within the Vienna City Administration, but also far beyond. For example, this innovative approach was discussed at several conferences such as the Smart City Expo World Congress, the World Summit Awards and the Major Cities of Europe IT User Group, as well as the Austrian Association of Cities. In the course of shortlisting the project for the iCapital Award of the European Commission 2018, the approach was also presented to, and discussed with great interest by, an international audience in Brussels.

Several ideas implemented in the programme point far beyond the actual realisation scenario, and will be used for an exchange of knowledge and best practice in national and international contexts:

  • The use of geodata in official procedures to obtain aggregated representations, geobased queries or in medium term, automatically created cadastres is a big chance for administrations to redevelop data-based decision-making.
  • The model is a participative reform process of administrative proceedings, to obtain first-hand information about the needs of the stakeholders.
  • The process design strives for a seamless end-to-end digitisation without media disruption throughout the whole customer journey. It is a holistic concept of software that embeds ICT solutions into organisational change.
  • The organisational model of the project has a strong focus on internal and external stakeholder engagement with maximum transparency.

In the framework of this project, two ‘mobile mapping’ campaigns have been completed (in 2018 and 2020) – digitising more than 4200 km of road axes in the urban areas. The resulting 400 TB of precise geodata serve a growing user base of 2000 users in more than 45 organisational units. Its use as Open Government Data is being prepared and the data has already been used in research cooperation with universities and research institutes.

More than 100 000 objects in the public space have been digitised at very low cost. The image data service was used for digital on-site inspections. About 9 000 inspections and 13 400 hearings offer great potential for cost, time and effort-saving for the administration as well as citizens and business owners.

An operational team has been established, ‘decluttering’ public space and ensuring fairness. In 2020 a total of 29 792 locations were checked, showing that 30 % of the objects in public space lacked permission. Fines for business owners who did not comply with the applicable laws and regulations amounted to nearly EUR 1.5 million per year.

New digital applications for all common use cases of public space were made available within the framework of the city’s ‘One-Stop Shop’ platform. This has been extended into a participative process with citizens and business operators. By now, more than 2000 applications have already been submitted digitally, resulting in more than 500 proceedings every month.

After analysing the underlying processes a new process model was created, which is now fully supported by the common ICT system. The software for the relevant departments is currently being rolled out. It is integrated in the One-Stop Shop, SAP, the electronic file system and the geodata created by the programme, replacing a total of 37 individual systems.

With the involvement of administrative experts in various platforms, new relations with customers have developed. The direct informal (e.g. festivals) and formal (e.g. consultation days) contact acted as a catalyst for productive solutions on both sides. By picking up feedback, numerous legal changes helped eliminate duplications and make responsibilities more transparent for customers.

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