Visualizing the Agenda 2030 in the city – the theme of the Venice City Solutions 2020 takes the participants on a digital journey to imagine the future through the eyes of cities. The yearly event aims to advance in the local implementation of the SDGs by identifying and sharing existing tools available to local, regional governments and its manifold partners from universities, businesses, NGOs and civil society. It is organized by AICCRE, UCLG, UN-Habitat, UNDP, UN SDGs Action Campaign, Platforma and the European Commission.
One of the two panel discussions on Day 1 dealt with how to link the SDGs to the spacial and territorial dimension and was moderated by Petr Suska, Head of the team Urban Economy Innovation from Fraunhofer IAO. Erna Polimac, global goals project leader from the municipality of Eindhoven, Netherlands, explains that visualisation of measures and respective consequences helps to attach citizens to a common goal as well as getting them engaged much easier. A similar thought was shared by Fabian Dembski, Visualization Department of HLRS High Performance Computer Centre in Stuttgart. He states that inclusion and creating visions through VR has proven very promising in this context. Cyril Klepek, CEO of Cyrkl, adds that digitalization needs to be an essential part of a circular economy that requires the joint efforts of citizens, municipalities, and companies. To turn cities into data providers is the vision of Karim Tarraf, CEO and Managing Director of Hawa Dawa, as a transparent collection of data helps local governments to understand for instance sources of pollution, and an open access to the data raises awareness for the issue among citizens. Helena Muller, Co-founder of Doconomy, finally highlights the importance of connecting consumption with impact and combining it with a gamification approach. Digitalization is not only closely linked to innovation, but also a mean to empower cities by making both causes and impacts visible and laying the foundation for making the agenda 2030 a reality. However, social and cultural aspects of a city may not be underestimated and maintaining the dialogue with citizens is essential. A smart city is one, that observes and responds to the needs of its people.