Switzerland is a well-known country for its watches, chocolate, Alps and beautiful landscapes, but it is also the origin of some engineering innovations. One of Switzerland’s remarkable revolutions happened in the 1800s when Swiss engineers built the Gotthard Tunnel that connects Switzerland to Italy. Furthermore, the country was one of the pioneers in the electrification of railway lines. Since the 1960s, the entire Swiss railway network has been solely powered by electricity, where from 2019, 90% of its energy comes from hydropower.
However, today Switzerland is not only a country known for its beautiful heritage, but also for its sustainability and technology. In this age of increased automation and surge in smart devices, smart cities are progressing swiftly. What sets the Swiss smart cities apart? Keep reading to discover more.
The era of smart devices and smart cities
The term ‘smart’ is everywhere, but it’s not just a trend—it’s real. Many of today’s devices and technologies are becoming smarter. Technology advancements mean that machines now handle more tasks on their own, and we have a lot more smart devices around us. This shift towards automation means our cities are becoming smart cities, using technology to make urban life more efficient and robust.
Swiss cities that embrace technological evolution
Several Swiss cities are at the forefront of embracing technological evolution. According to the Swiss Smart City Survey 2022 performed by ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences), more than 50 Swiss cities and municipalities have already begun to actively engage in the development of the smart city concept.
Below, you will find examples from Switzerland’s rapidly expanding tech landscape, specifically focusing on the integration of LoRaWAN technology and smart city initiatives across several Swiss cities.
A catalyst for smart cities, LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology, has emerged as a pivotal enabler in the journey towards smart cities. Its wide coverage and cost-effectiveness make it an ideal foundation for numerous Internet of Things (IoT) applications. If you are unfamiliar with this technology, you can find an in-depth guide to LoRa and LoraWAN here.
As per this Deloitte report, currently, several Swiss cities are investing in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructures designed to connect smart devices with both businesses and individuals. LoRaWAN technology is already active in eight Swiss cities (2022 data), including well-known ones like Zurich, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, and Aarau, among others. It is a key part of several smart cities’ initiatives and ambitions.
Additionally, initiatives like the Smart City Hub Switzerland emphasise collaboration and knowledge exchange between cities. This collaborative approach fosters a culture of innovation and accelerates the adoption of best practices in smart city development.
In this section, we are focusing on particular Swiss cities to illustrate their journey towards a more connected and coordinated transition. Cities such as Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva are utilising LoRaWAN technology to bring their smart city plans to life. Whether it’s monitoring air quality or optimising parking spaces, these cities are using technology to improve how they function and make urban living better.
Zurich’s Smart City Strategy
Zurich is not only the largest city in Switzerland but also a leader in the Global IMD Smart City Index 2023. Zurich is now in front of Copenhagen, Canberra, and Oslo. The Swiss city topped the list with scores that were way above average in almost every category. It received top marks for its buildings in the categories of governance, activities, work and school, and health and safety. Furthermore, Zurich is rated as one of the top cities in the technology area, particularly for mobility and work and school criteria.
Zurich prioritises intelligent networks that connect data and sensors, aiming to create social, ecological, and economic value. In Zurich, ewz (Swiss electricity service) runs an extensive LoRa network that serves as the basis for the city’s commitment to advancing smart city and IoT technologies, including measuring air quality and water levels, managing parking spaces (smart parking), and more.
Lausanne’s Smarter Infrastructure
The city of Lausanne is located on Lake Geneva in the Vaud area of Switzerland, which is home to many French speakers. In terms of smart transition, Lausanne is in fourth place in the Global IMD Smart City Index 2023, meaning that for all structural-related criteria, it received scores far above average. The city received the best ratings possible for its use of open space, cultural activities, and school IT programmes. Additionally, it scored high for its online services related to public transport. It seems like Lausanne is focused on LoRaWAN technology by growing the number of gateways, to make its infrastructure and services smarter.
Geneva’s Urban Green Space
Much like Lausanne, Geneva is a lakeside city with a unique position—it rests at the southern edge of Lake Geneva. It’s surrounded by the stunning Alps and Jura mountains, offering impressive views of the majestic Mont Blanc. In terms of access to education, urban green space, and citizen input on local government choices, Geneva received top marks in the aforementioned Smart City Index 2023. However, when it comes to new job opportunities and job offers online, there was little positive feedback. Nevertheless, there is potential in Geneva to utilise LoRaWAN networks for monitoring environmental parameters, optimising energy usage, and improving transportation systems.
St. Gallen’s ‘Smartnet’ Project
St. Gallen is a city in northeastern Switzerland that is located south of Lake Constance (Bodensee). St. Gallen’s ‘Smartnet’ project, a successful pilot leveraging LoRa technology, has laid the foundation for its journey towards becoming a smart city. The high reliability, cost-effectiveness, and security aspects of ‘Smartnet’ make it a cornerstone for its future initiatives.
Schaffhausen’s Vision for a Sustainable Future
Schaffhausen is the centre of a vibrant, forward-looking region between the greater Zurich area and southern Germany, and it serves as the canton’s capital. Schaffhausen, through digitization and new technologies, aims to position itself as a sustainable and livable city. Its smart city strategy exemplifies how a forward-thinking approach can transform urban living.
By embracing the integration of technology into their processes, Swiss cities are creating an encouraging precedent for the world’s urban environment. These cities are moving towards a future of increased productivity, sustainability, and urban living thanks to the use of LoRaWAN technology and a commitment to smart city plans. The Swiss experience provides helpful insights and a roadmap for effectively integrating technology into the urban fabric as other cities seek to follow suit.
Switzerland is one of the countries of major focus for Distrelec, an electronics distributor with Swiss origins. Distrelec distributes products from well-known brands in Switzerland, like ABB, TE Connectivity or ST. Head to the webshop to find out LoRa solutions and contribute to the transition of your city.