How does a city that struggles with providing reliable, convenient services blossom into a place that not only offers these basic solutions but does so in a way that is accessible to both citizens and tourists? For Albania’s capital of Tirana, the key lies in smart city solutions that address issues such as mobility, education and public spaces. During the Tirana Smart City Conference, representatives came together from the municipality, international organisations, and the community to share in the mayor’s vision of Tirana’s transformation over the next decade. Here’s a brief glance at the 112 projects designed to make a significant change to Tirana’s current infrastructure, offering sustainable solutions to the city’s urban challenges.
Crowdfunding & citizen-centric apps
In Tirana, citizen engagement and open data are two ways the city can utilize its readily available human resources to advance projects in five priority areas: mobility, society, living, economy and rural life. As the Administrative Territorial Reform increases the municipality of Tirana to 25 times its size, it’s no surprise that a majority of the 112 proposed projects focus attention on rural development. As for how to fund these projects, the city is looking at innovative financing schemes such as crowdfunding. With the help of open data, the UN in Albania discovered that out of 22 playgrounds managed by the municipality, only one is suitable for children with special needs. Through social media, crowdfunding platforms and advocacy initiatives, the #Crowdfunding4Children campaign raised its goal of $20,000 to construct the country’s first all-inclusive playground for children with special needs, offering a safe and healthy environment for them to interact with their peers. The city is also looking into reward-based crowdfunding models that allow citizens to contribute to certain projects that get private service providers involved, as well. For example, while paying an electric bill, citizens may have the option to contribute to a social project that aligns with Tirana’s smart city goals.
While these projects are still in their early development stages, Tirana has already unveiled one way it plans to step up citizen engagement with its new mobile application, Tirana Ime. In addition to accessing information on bus stations, cab companies and real-time traffic reports, the app allow citizens to report any neighbourhood issues they may be aware of, receiving a quick call to action from the municipality. With the introduction of these types of projects and inventive financing schemes, Tirana is already on its way to becoming a self-started smart city with models that others in the country may be able to easily follow in the future.