Leading the Czech capital to a smarter future

Creating a smarter future for Prague © City of Prague
Mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová, the leader of innovations in the city © City of Prague

The Mayor of Prague, Czech Republic, Adriana Krnáčová, answers Government Europa Quarterly’s questions on creating a smarter future for the city.

As the first female Mayor to serve the city of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová took on her role as City Mayor in 2014 as a representative of the party ANO 2011. The city of Prague is the only owner of Prague’s smart city initiative, Smart Prague, and as a result its actions and activities to create a smarter future are approved by the city.

Krnáčová answered Government Europa Quarterly’s questions about her vision for Prague as a smart city of the future, and about current plans for the implementation of innovative technologies.

Smart Prague shows great ambition in establishing best practice in smart innovation in the city. How important is it to Prague to become a fully operational smart city?

I consider the introduction of new technologies on the streets of Prague today to be a logical towards a smarter future, linked to the innovations of this century. People are used to using technologies in their everyday work and private lives. That is why the city public space has to follow this trend as well. Last year, the city management approved a historical first – its long-term strategy for introducing the smart solution in the capital.

Our ambition, however, is not to recklessly invest into technologies, but to look for projects that bring real benefits to the citizens of Prague, as well as tourists. We want to introduce such technologies that will make moving around the city easier and that will bring new services. That is the reason why we test many of the projects in trial operations on a smaller scale, after which they are assessed, and their effects determined.

The Smart Prague strategy considers smart projects until 2030. The transformation into a smart city will certainly be a longer process. As I have already mentioned, we initially test several things in a trial operation before we decide to invest large public funds in them. We try to test based upon the development of new technologies. Therefore, I think we cannot exactly know when Prague will actually become a fully functional smart city.

What is important to me is the fact that we have, for the first time in the city’s history, actually launched the process. We delegated the Operator ICT municipal company to co-ordinate the smart city solution. We have clearly defined the areas into which the innovations will be directed.

Moreover, I am glad that Smart Prague is not, by any means, only about the ideas of the Prague City Hall and Operator ICT. On the contrary, other municipal companies, universities, entrepreneurs and the public keep providing us with ideas about what a smarter future for the city of Prague city should look like. We have been forming the city’s future together and that is what I consider to be very important.

One of the key areas of the Smart Prague concept is mobility. What are some particular steps Prague is planning in this area?

Yes, transportation issues form one of the key areas that Prague faces. We will be launching two projects in the near future and they will have a fundamental impact on creating a smarter future for the city’s inhabitants.

The first project concerns the modernisation of the public transportation payment system. I have to emphasise the fact that Prague has a very good and dense public transportation system, which even visitors from Western Europe often praise. We will significantly expand the current payment system from the middle of 2018. It will make the lives of Prague’s citizens and tourists much easier. Apart from the already existing Lítačka card, passengers will be able to use bank cards, train fare cards and a new mobile application to pay. The classic paper and SMS tickets, which are used today, will remain effective.

The second project is expected to support electromobility. According to the forecasts in the Czech Republic, the interest in electric vehicles will grow exponentially in the next few years. Unfortunately, in comparison with other big European cities, Prague is not sufficiently prepared for this boom. I am talking about the infrastructure of charging stations, which are vital for the development of electric methods of mobility. This year, we will start building a preparation network for individual charging stations. There are currently about 100 charging stations in Prague, however, only about one tenth of them are of a fast-charging design, of which allow for battery charging in tens of minutes. We plan to have five times more of them by the end of 2019.

I would like to add that yet another area we would like to focus on is the area of intelligent traffic control. Intelligent traffic control utilises data analyses that can help us with, for example, planning smoother traffic flow for rescue units or detour routes.

How is Prague ensuring that historic buildings in the city become smarter and more efficient?

Prague is a beautiful, historical city. The city has many architectural gems, built during various historical periods. The city owns several of these buildings. As a part of the Smart Prague programme, we are also engaged in the energy saving issue. One of these activities is the creation of a comprehensive database about the technical conditions of the buildings, including their energy parameters.

Based on this database, we will be able to better assess which buildings need to be modernised first and where we can source the money for such modernisations. Yet another project which we are launching during these months is a pilot testing of the so-called digital energy measurements. The tenants of a historical municipal palace will have online access to data on the amount of energy currently being consumed, such as water, heat, gas and electricity. We believe that the project will bring significant energy savings since the tenants will be able to see their consumption values in real time and to modify their behaviour based on them. If the system proves to be effective, we will apply it to other municipal buildings, in order to create a smarter future of energy use.

What element of innovation infrastructure is your next priority in managing this transition?

As I previously mentioned, our vision is to introduce new technologies into several areas, in which they have the potential to bring the biggest benefits to the city inhabitants. I personally believe that data processing is of a great strategic value. Data analyses today form an effective instrument for managing not only companies, but also cities.

We are preparing a large project which we call a Data Platform. City-related data from various sources will be gathered in this environment; they will come from companies, as well as private entities. We will partially offer them in the form of open data, thus allowing students as well as anybody else to create start-up applications over them. Even this project will be introduced in a gradual manner.

We are already starting with data integration, but it will take some time before we develop a robust platform. Nevertheless, I am glad that we have managed to establish communication with many municipal organisations and that they consider this key project to be as important for an effective city management and delivering a smarter future as I do.

Adriana Krnáčová
Mayor of Prague

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