Launched in 2001 by then-Mayor Paul Helminger, the e-City concept has become a reality for the City of Luxembourg. Coming from the ‘e-Europe’ initiative, the electronic city was, at first, conceived with a very conceptual touch.
In 1815, the Fortress of Luxembourg (built in AD 963) became the capital of the country of Luxembourg; 105,000 inhabitants now live within about 52 square kilometres, divided into 24 major neighbourhoods and suburbs. Foreigners make up 65 percent of the population, and represent 192 nationalities. The population turnover is over 10 percent every year. More than 120,000 cross-border workers travel into the city every workday, filling 150,000 jobs.
The first step to Luxembourg becoming a smart city was the e-City strategy, described in the white paper Luxembourg: Intelligent City, City of the Future, published in 2002. The three pillars of the e-City concept are: the education of citizens in the use of new technology; the development of electronic and mobile services; and making those services available anywhere and everywhere. In order to make this concept a reality, a new department was created in the city administration: the e-City coordination team.
The e-City initiative has two main objectives. The first is to provide a high-quality urban habitat, particularly in terms of the environment, social scene and culture. The second is to ensure the integration of each and every layer of the population through pro-active approaches towards the citizens’ needs and the development of the society. In order to make Luxembourg an attractive place to live, the city has to have a clear position in a regional and international context. Focus has been placed on the city’s dynamic economy, innovative products and competitiveness.
Education in Luxembourg
Four citizens’ training centres have been built since 2004, in collaboration with
local associations. The training programmes – for both individuals and groups – allow citizens to obtain their ‘internet licence’ for free. The 98 percent occupation rate shows the success of these centres.
The first mobile payment services for citizens were based on SMS technology (e.g. µ-Payment, SMS4Ticket, Call2Park). Key agreements were made with all national telecommunication operators to maintain the neutrality of public services.
[A]ll apps should be interactive, innovative, integrated, intuitive
The City of Luxembourg has more than 100 electronic forms on its website, most of which allow users to sign with the electronic LuxTrust signature. This national signing platform allows inter-administrative processes and exchanges with prefilled forms, as the data comes from a secure personal space, unique to each user.
Since 2010, about 20 mobile services have been integrated into the City of Luxembourg’s shell application. The shell apps are available on the App Store and Google Play, with a version for Windows Mobile in production. The apps on offer can be divided into four categories: city, citizens and administration; infotainment, news and agenda; tourism, leisure and discovery; and ‘mobility’ (e.g. tickets, real-time bus and train information, cross-border assistance).
All these services have been developed and piloted by the e-City team. Their approach is that all apps should be interactive, innovative, integrated, intuitive and intelligent. By downloading a CityApp, the user can access all mobile-enabled services from the central service platform.
The rollout of the city’s wireless infrastructure began in 2007, with the introduction of meshed WiFi technology in public spaces. The objective is 100 percent coverage of outdoor public spaces in the city, and 100 percent coverage of the indoor space of city-owned buildings (e.g. City Hall, administrative offices, schools). Today, 75 percent of the city is covered, with about 800 outdoor and indoor antennas.
This wireless network has been dubbed ‘HOTCITY’: the city as a hotspot. The central management platform is an open one; all national telecommunication operators (fixed or mobile) are connected to it. All public services and information can be accessed for free. Internet access can be bought either by scratch or credit cards, or via home subscriptions.
Economy, ecology and electronics
The 2011 edited green book e3-City: The Economic, Ecological and Electronic City lays out 21 guidelines for how a city administration can incorporate economic and ecological approaches, and how they can be made available to citizens. The first 16 guidelines cover internal strategy for efficient IT equipment, future-orientated change management, innovating internal IT tools, and knowledge sharing and technology sharing.
The other five guidelines deal with the administration’s external strategy: encouraging citizens to develop sustainable behaviours, sustainable buildings and private-public partnerships. The initial 2002 white book and the 2011 green book form the general strategic framework for current and future projects in the context of the four domains of competence for the politics and the administration of the City of Luxembourg: smart governance, smart infrastructure, smart mobility and a smart economy.
The rollout of the city’s wireless infrastructure began in 2007, with the introduction of meshed WiFi technology in public spaces. The objective is 100 percent coverage of outdoor public spaces
Citizen-centred services and citizen-relationship management with a central interconnected virtual public office allow not only smart administrative processes but also e-participation and citizen participation. Tracking administrative requests and an open data policy ensure communication and transparency. The smart governance of the City of Luxembourg is based on transversal coordination and integration, automated administrative procedures, strategic planning and facility management.
Smart metering and smart grids allow economic and sustainable energy consumption in city-owned and private buildings. HOTCITY, intelligent water management for citizens, smart schools (piloted by the TechnoLink department of the city administration) and energy optimisation in administrative buildings are just some of the examples of Luxembourg’s smart infrastructure.
The City of Luxembourg’s mixed development plan involves functional, efficient and high-quality electric transport, bike rental and real-time public transport information services, and cross-regional planning. Public and alternative means of transport are promoted, and the number of corporate parking spaces limited.
The City of Luxembourg is engaged in a number of private public partnerships. Of particular note are the partnerships with the University of Luxembourg’s interdisciplinary institute SnT, and the private company HOTCITY SA. The agreement with SnT allows the institute to use the wireless communication infrastructure of the city as a test-bed for smart city research programmes. Several projects (including the Cross Border Personal Travel Assistant) have already yielded concrete results for the city and scientific results for SnT PhD students.
HOTCITY SA is a private company jointly owned by the City of Luxembourg and telecommunications provider POST. HOTCITY SA was created in 2009 to commercialise internet access on the HOTCITY network, and to mutualise the HOTCITY network and CityApps with other cities and private clients (e.g. hotels, camp sites, restaurants, banks).
The HOTCITY network now serves three cities in Luxembourg and has two proofs-of-concept in Belgium and Holland. Four new cities in Luxembourg will be added in 2014.
HOTCITY has also created six apps for cities, institutions and private companies, based on the cities’ shell app. Up to five new apps will be on the market in 2014.
With this strategic concept, the City of Luxembourg, together with its partners, is well set for a smart future.