In February, Johanna and Ulrike went on a press trip to Vilnius and got the chance to talk to Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius. Last week, we’ve published the first part of their interview: the Mayor shared with us his visions and strategies, told us about the new City Economic Development Agency GoVilnius and much more. Today, it’s time for the second part of the conversation.
4. Vilnius as a “Smart city”: What initiatives are there in Vilnius?
Here’s one recent example: we noticed some problems with snow accumulating on our streets and sidewalks. So we introduced GPS trackers on street cleaning trucks to track their routes. It is helping us better organise their work, to see whether they are doing the job we have hired them to do and to even identify and hold people responsible for any misuse of city property. For example, we found some trucks were being misused to transport grain to hunting fields. The individuals responsible were replaced. We also created a public tool that lets Vilnians and anyone else who is interested in monitoring the trucks in action. You can find it at http://www.vilnius.lt/map/grinda.
Many of the smart solutions being developed are conceptualised and implemented by our Code for Vilnius group. Code for Vilnius brings talented IT volunteers together to develop technological solutions to our city’s challenges. One of their projects is a bus lane control device. Installed on a bus or trolleybus, the device monitors the traffic in the bus lane ahead of the bus. If it identifies a car that is using the bus lane, it sends a report to the police and a penalty is issued. This is a great technological solution to a problem that hinders effective public transportation.
We created a “Taking Care of Vilnius” (“Tvarkau Vilnių”) app that allows anyone to report a problem to the city. If you see a broken fence or a pothole, you can take a picture and submit it through the app. The app automatically sends it to the right department in the municipality and that department must respond and provide a solution.
We also have a so-called “startup sandbox”. Basically, we invest into various solutions developed by startups, experiment with them, and try to integrate them into existing systems to improve our city. Our partnerships with private businesses include:
- Trafi – an app that provides information about public transport. We are exchanging information with them and they based their product on open data provided by the municipality.
- “VienaSąskaita” (“One Account”) – a startup that consolidates payments for utilities and other services into one simply bill.
- PlaceIlive.com – a city valuation startup that evaluates living conditions around the globe.
- We also have IoT-like devices in a few different areas
5. How can this be closely linked to international congresses?
Smart city concepts are being considered and implemented in cities around the globe. The value of accumulated international expertise and experience to any particular city considering smart solutions should be obvious. Some of the concepts we have implemented here in Vilnius follow examples set by other cities. This vitally important sharing of experience and expertise that allows us to leapfrog ahead takes place at international meetings. The advantages of modern communications technology notwithstanding, meeting peers and experts face-to-face is often still the best way to efficiently convey important information and, no less importantly, gain each other’s trust and cooperation.
6. It is very important to have leading experts in the city who represent their knowledge to attract international congresses. Do you have a plan how to do this?
We are building on the solid foundation laid by our Convention Bureau as well as our most developed and promising knowledge industries and clusters. We will be connecting more closely their development and the development of our knowledge economy as a whole to the meetings industry and raising awareness within our scientific and business communities as well as among policy makers about the value that meetings create for the economy – not just in terms of spending, but as vital forums for sharing and advancing the knowledge economy. We have a lot of expertise in certain industries. As has been the case with our city marketing in general, sometimes our people are too modest to let the rest of the world know what we are good at and what is great about Vilnius.
7. What do you love most about Vilnius?
The thing I enjoy about Vilnius the most right now is watching it get better day by day – thanks to our residents’ efforts, enthusiasm and love for our city. It’s an exciting time to be here and to be the mayor.
Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Šimašius
Your contact in Vilnius:
Head of Vilnius Tourism and Convention Bureau
Go Vilnius | The official international economic
development agency of the City of Vilnius
tel. +370 5 212 1833
Your contact at tmf:
Project Manger Content & PR
+49 931 9002 114