Are entire countries become smart?

Much is made of smart cities but who thinks about the rural regions?

Foto: Adobe Stock

Smart Cities: This term is perhaps one of the most commonly heard in recent years. One thing is clear: if mobile phones and televisions are becoming smart, then our cities certainly are as well.


As there are more factors working together in the urban context than in a small device, this IQ boost to the urban area is taking a little longer but that does not mean there is a lack of commitment to the challenging task.


Research is taking place everywhere, to ensure that the residents of future high-end cities have everything they might need. Start with the conurbations! – That is the mantra but is anyone even thinking about the infrastructure required for smart regions? Energy, mobility, city planning, administration and communication – all areas need to develop together and be interconnected in order to achieve a functioning unit.


This also applies for rural regions and, as the example of the cities shows, such a development takes time.

Project Kapfenberg

The fact that the “small”, rural regions are seldom discussed in the major area of interconnection is noticeable particularly to the areas concerned and whilst some are happy to complain about the system, others simply take matters into their own hands.


One such self-sustaining project is currently being implemented in Styria. The 1,200 residents have got together and jointly developed the objectives for their project in Kapfenberg. The objective that has emerged: e-mobility by 2030.

Martijn Kiers speaking at IONICA 2019 about smart regions and e-mobility projects. Photo: SI/Mair

Networking in the country

This project is only one of a few, which shows that change in this area is also desired in the country. Martijn Kiers from FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences in Graz goes one step further and asks whether smart cities are possible without smart regions.


“For smart cities to be able to emerge at all, it is important to think about the surrounding area,” Kiers says. “If the urban transport is converted to e-mobility but there is no investment in the required infrastructure for this in the country, you will not get very far. Of course it is not possible for everything to be converted at once but the regions should also be taken into account in the concepts of smart cities.”


Active mobility over short distances, a good public transport network and widespread car sharing offers – it is clear to Kiers that this system, already tried and tested in urban areas, would also work well in “smart regions”. Obviously this is dependent on creation of all the necessary infrastructure and on each link engaging well with the next.