Young University Innsbruck: Day of action – How to involve the general public?

In November 2015, the “Young University – day of action”, organized by the University of Innsbruck, has taken place in Innsbruck. Beside different institutes of the university external institutions with a scientific and technical background presented the topics of their daily work to school children and teenagers from Tyrolean schools. In this framework, an ideas competition with the topic “SMART CITY – City of the future” was organized

Involving the general public as a stakeholder group and spreading the smart city philosophy was the main goal of the “Day of action”, which was organized by the Young University Innsbruck. An ideas competition can be one approach to implement a dialogue between the public, future generations and project partners.  In November 2015, SINFONIA project partners organized such an ideas competition with the topic “SMART CITY – City of the future”. Regarding to construction, design and technical features of the cities, the students led their imaginations run free. The event was also a good opportunity to increase the project visibility, popularity and to emphasize the importance of reducing energy consumption and increasing renewable energy.

Not only a large number of academically institutes presented their daily work within scientific experiments but also several external institutions took part in this academic exchange for students of all ages. In this framework, alpS, the city administration of Innsbruck and the Standortagentur Tirol organized the ideas competition referred to as “SMART CITY – City of the future”. The students were free to develop their concepts as subscriptions or as written documents. The representatives of alpS, the City of Innsbruck and Standortagentur Tirol provided proper professional background knowledge. A large number of drawings and documents were submitted. Subsequently, a jury consisting of alpS and its partners (IIG, City of Innsbruck) evaluated the submissions.

The ceremony for awarding of the best ideas took place on the 10th of December in the Municipality of Innsbruck. The eight winners were invited to receive their prizes in person, handed over by the vice-mayor of Innsbruck. Since teachers and parents of the students participated in the award ceremony, the event had a multiplier effect on the social environment of the students. Similar to the “Day of action” the ceremony increased the project visibility and the level of awareness of SINFONIA in the general public.

Conclusions:

To motivate students to participate in the ideas competition, several prices were organized. The first prize was a train journey for two persons to any city in Austria. To make the results available, a compilation of the winning designs/ideas were published at the SINFONIA website. Through the ideas competition, the students gain a playful and creative access to the different contents of the city of the future. Subsequently, a multiplier effect is expected when there is knowledge exchange between teachers/pupils and their families, friends or colleagues. Such events are a great opportunity to reach a large number of young people and to communicate the contents of the project. It is a good chance to invite children and adolescents in participating in the project aiming at reduction of energy consumption and increase of using renewable energy.

Lessons learnt:

Prerequisite for the participation in the ideas competition is to support the students during their drawings or writings with professional knowledge. Furthermore, some attractive prices should be an incentive to continue the students’ projects. A final ceremony with representatives of the city and project partners is a good framework to reward the students for their commitment.

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