Smart Cities: The Transformation of Bolzano/Bozen, Innsbruck, and Trento

Launched in 2014, the SINFONIA project aimed to remodel districts in Bolzano and Innsbruck into “Smart Cities”: places with improved energy efficiency and quality of life. The transformations included the renovation of social housing condominiums, the expansion and improvement of the district heating network, and the installation of smart service points for citizens. In 2018, Eurac Research coordinated an additional local project, STARDUST, to convert Trento into a smart city.

On the morning of January 23rd, the scientific managers, mayors, and representatives from these municipalities will recount the story of the transformation of these cities through various round tables and speeches. After the conference, the 2019 edition of Klimahouse, the national reference exhibition for energy efficiency in buildings, will be held in Bolzano from the 23rdto the 26thof January 2019.

Five years into the SINFONIA project, the goals set out for Bolzano/Bozen are nearly accomplished. Of the five social housing condominiums (amounting to 31,000 m2and 345 apartments) involved in the renovation work, three have been completed, with the remaining two finalizing construction in the upcoming months. The renovations, all certified as CasaClima A and CasaClima R, have been managed by the Municipality of Bolzano/Bozen and IPES, along with researchers from Eurac Research. Novel technologies were implemented to reduce energy consumption and improve the interior comfort for tenants. These include new types of facades, integration with renewable sources, and innovative mechanical ventilation systems. Currently, the project is in the monitoring phase to analyze the levels of internal comfort, reduction of emissions and energy needs. IDM-South Tyrol has organized guided tours of these new buildings during this edition of the Klimahouse exhibition to offer the chance of exploring the novel technology installed in these buildings.

Green energy company Alperia has modified Bolzano’s district heating network for the SINFONIA project. Two of the renovated buildings have been connected to the heating network and a new real-time monitoring system has been created for better management of the entire network. Additionally, pollutants have been reduced through the use of hydrogen as a co-fuel for a new type of power supply for the district heating network power plants.

SINFONIA has also introduced smart points to Bolzano. More than 20 new sensors to monitor traffic, air quality, and environmental parameters have been created at various points in the city. The sensors, known as Smart Point Totems, process these parameters and provide useful information to citizens along with offering other services such as recharging electric vehicles. The inauguration of these smart points is set for 2019. 

The conference on 23 January will address several questions about SINFONIA and the impact of the project in the districts where it took place. What worked in Bolzano and Innsbruck? How will STARDUST, the twin project of SINFONIA, modernize Trento? What can be improved in these complex initiatives? And what ideas can be used by cities interested in such projects in the future? The conference hopes to answer many of these questions and more through the several presentations. The morning will be introduced by a leading international expert on smart cities, Peter Dröge, the Director of the Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development. Also presenting during the rest of the conference will be: (1) Wolfram Sparber, the Director of the Institute for Renewable Energy of Eurac Research, (2) Wolfgang Streicher, Professor of Innsbruck University, (3) Daniele Vettorato, smart city expert and researcher at Eurac Research, (4) the mayor of Bolzano Renzo Caramaschi, (5) the mayor of Trento Alessandro Andreatta and (6) Gerhard Fritz of the city council of Innsbruck.

The SINFONIA project will additionally be hosting a booth in the upcoming edition of Klimahouse, from the 23rdto the 26thof January, together with all of the local partners involved: Eurac Research, Municipality of Bolzano, IPES, Alperia, South Tyrol Energy Agency-CasaClima, and IDM-South Tyrol.