budapest, 4, JANUARY 2017- 14.00 CEST

Mr. István Tarlós is the current  Mayor of Budapest since 2010. Previously he served as the Mayor of the Third District (Óbuda-Békásmegyer) of the city between 1990 and 2006 (as an independent candidate).   

In your opinion, what might Budapest’s mantra be, in few words?


Above all, people are the focal point of a city. Thus a liveable city must offer its residents, workers and visitors an environment and services which foster the enrichment of their lives. At the same time, a liveable city is also inclusive as it must ensure opportunities for progress to social groups in different stages of their life.


The operation of a successful city is sustainable. This is more than an ecological criterion – it is a way of thinking and developing. Sustainability is a development process which satisfies the needs of the present without reducing the ability of future generations to cater for their own needs.

Equal opportunities

At the same time, a successful city must also provide equal opportunities for its inhabitants in terms of economic possibilities, social and cultural services, and urban use. The basis of the equal opportunities is to ensure the realisation and synergy of individual abilities and community objectives, and, in order to achieve this, the city must provide adequate infrastructural support.

What are the intangible assets of Smart City Budapest?

The nation’s capital plays an outstanding role in Hungary’s economy. In order to sustain and strengthen this, we must create an attractive financial environment for entrepreneurs. Our top economic resource is knowledge and intellectual capital. Therefore, we must give preference to industries that generate high added value through research, development and innovation. Thanks to its geographical position, Budapest is the financial and transport route centre of the Carpathian Basin: we must fully seize the opportunities offered by this unique position.

In terms of economic development, the main intangible assets are the positive Budapest image, the large labour supply, the strong performance in R&D&I (pharmaceuticals, ICT, electric machinery production), the well-developed infrastructure of logistics with high demand for the logistics sector, the strengthening start-up environment, the high level of creativity, and the rich and diverse offer of jobs in the capital.

Budapest and its agglomeration is the leading economic area within the region with the most expansive R&D and innovation budget. Budapest is a higher education centre as well, whose most important asset is its well-educated work force. One of the most important goals in regards to development politics is to improve the performance of high added value, knowledge intensive sectors within the Budapest region.

In terms of innovation the main areas of potential are the “spin-off” and “start-up” companies so the capital pays particular attention to their professional and financial support. From September 2013 the BudapestHUB working group has a target that at the end of the decade Budapest should become the capital of the start-ups in the region. Lately, the 2nd „Night of Start-ups„ was held by the Budapest Enterprise Agency which is the only organization founded by the Budapest City Council back in 1993 for the development and promotion of the micro, small and medium enterprises of the Hungarian capital.

The State plays a catalyzer role in it as well, its task is to brush aside the obstacles. The BudapestHUB working group works with the participation of the inland start-up actors and the experts of the Ministry of National Economy.

Despite the fact that Budapest has already become a significant metropolis of the region however the possibilities predestinate the capital towards further developments and expansions of its central role.

What is Smart Budapest greatest strength?

One of the greatest strenghts of smart Budapest is its geographical asset. The opportunities rendered by Budapest’s geographical position are determined by the Danube River, which flows through the capital’s axis and played a key role in the city’s evolution. The Danube is a determining element of the cityscape that fits into the city’s historic values.

Renewable energy use is in its early stage, still, Budapest has some advantageous options in this area: the city produces bio-gas at three sewage treatment sites, the solar energy never runs out, and the capital has significant geothermal potential.

The development of European cities is of main importance within the European Union’s integrated strategy (Europe 2020), which focuses on intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth. In order to fight against social exclusion, it prescribes employment, Research & Development, climate protection, sustainable energy management, education and poverty targets, to be achieved across the whole European Union.

In Hungary, the law regarding the built environmental restructuring and protection matters, impose that the Local Government of Budapest must decide on the integrated urban development strategy.

Budapest is developing and working. We are no longer chasing dreams and setting unattainable goals. What is now underway is preparatory work based on calculations, technical design and financial analysis. Budapest’s long-term urban development concept for the period until 2030 is proof of this. The Municipality of Budapest plans to carry out short and long-term development projects in close collaboration with the central government. The Municipality’s task is to survey, devise and ensure a solid, feasible technical basis for the necessary improvements and then prioritize, initiate and manage the related development projects.

At the moment the Smart City Vision is under preparation based on the target system of the Budapest 2030 Long-term Urban Development Concept covering the period of 2017-2030.

How does Smart budapest connect culture with technology and citizens?

Budapest has significant historic traditions and a characteristic identity. Budapest’s charisma comes from its cultural richness, atmosphere and image. The city’s cultural life also affects the quality of life of its inhabitants, their identity awareness, and loyalty to their town.

The heat supply with thermal water of Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is a really good example for collaboration of three organizations (Zoo, Spa & Budapest District Heating Co.) of the Municipality, it is a typical win-win- project. In 2011, Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Budapest District Heating Company joined forces to reduce the carbon emission of the Zoo and spare on energy costs by realizing the heat and hot water supply of the Zoo with the collaboration of the Spa.

Since the active participation of the inhabitants is needed to solve the challenges and to use the potentials we have, therefore awareness-raising has an important role to prepare the inhabitants to apply  modern technologies  efficiently, to get to know the principles of the sustainability, as well as to reach the environmentally-conscious lifestyle. The required institutional or infrastructural elements are built in vain if the citizens don’t use them. By using modern technology and increasing the societal engagement Budapest could be a liveable city for its residents. Budapest has an enormous potential in development and if we draw profit from our possibilities consciously we would notice high difference in the standard of living and in everyday lifestyle.

How can be a “smart day” (from morning to evening) for a “smart citizen” in budapest?

Without smart people, there are no smart cities. Citizens of Budapest are cooperative, and they welcome innovative ideas and implementations. More and more households have smart meters equipped. After leaving our residence we have the possibility to leave our car in a P+R parking place and from there we can use the public bike-sharing system named BUBI to go to our workplace.

If we choose the public transportation we could use the FUTÁR Journey Planner app on the web, on our smartphones and tablets to manage our time consciously.

During the day we can experience the results of the innovative investments at our workplaces as well, intelligent heating-, and electricity meters.

At the office we are making great efforts to eliminate or greatly reduce the use of  paper which is another aspect of a smart vision besides the others mentioned above.

Operation of the city’s infrastructure, public services and their modernisation is one of the major priorities of the Municipality of Budapest. These investments are important not only for the population, but they also affect the changes of potential development plans, and are important elements of the city’s competitiveness to help to reduce difference and fragmentation between regions. The preventive and adapted answers provided for climate change, lower CO2 emission and the improvement of the capital’s environmental conditions could be achieved primarily by modernizing and developing the city’s sub-system responsible for city-operations.

Sustainable development, livable environment, automation and digitalization are the keywords of a smart lifestyle. In addition to raising public awareness and encouraging the utilization of a variety of innovative services, events and campaigns will be organized.

How Smart budapest is connecting the internal silos?

Representatives of the Mayor’s Office specialized departments and stakeholders were involved in the development of Budapest’s strategies and concepts, such as Budapest 2030 or Balázs Mór Plan (SUMP). Besides this, the Department of Investments and Project Management, the Department of Operation, the Department of City Management and the Department of City Planning are also taking part in the planning and implementation processes, as well.

During 2017 a Climate Change Platform will be implemented, where all relevant stakeholders are invited to discuss climate change mitigation and adaptation issues and act against climate change. This may also be a valuable tool for achieving a smarter Budapest.

What are the smarter projects of Smart budapest?

Development of the Bubi public bike-sharing scheme

The MOL Bubi public bike-sharing scheme is a new mode of public transport in Budapest, which consists of 76 docking stations and 1,100 bicycles. Customers are able to use over one thousand bicycles in the city in the framework of the MOL Bubi bike sharing scheme launched in April 2014. The system is suitable for users to get automated access to Bubi-bikes in all seasons around the clock, without operators, and to return the bikes to any station. The axes of the docking station network are between Margitsziget and Budafoki út as well as between Déli pályaudvar and Keleti pályaudvar railway stations with a 300-500-metre average distance between docking stations in the city centre. As a result of joint development by consortium members, MOL Bubi features innovative solutions such as solar cell-operated docking stations and terminals with large-screen touchpads. The transportation of bicycles between docking stations are performed in an environment-friendly way mostly by special electric bikes which are also used by mechanics to reach the locations to carry out on-the-spot repairs. Also, the special “stringbikes” with auxiliary electric propulsion developed by Csepel Zrt. are used to carry out operational tasks.

FUTÁR and other developments

Real time integrated transport information system was launched in 2014. FUTÁR Journey Planner app for web, smartphones and tablets was launched: The application gives detailed information on schedules of each stop and also is able to show the real-time position of the public transportation vehicles in operation. Thanks to the developers of the FUTÁR, this app offers both the “door to door” trip planner service and also the accessible route options.

BKK’s first Electric Hybrid bus has entered scheduled service. The brand new Volvo 7900A has appeared first on bus line 7 and followed by 27 more during February and March 2015.

37 used CNG buses are purchased from Dijon, France and additional 12 used CNG buses are purchased from Laussanne, Switzerland. The current CNG bus fleet consists of 49 vehicles.

Telebus Campaign is the new way of community transport. BKK launched the Full Bus Campaign on certain lines which are operating only by ordering the bus previously on phone. The campaign aims at the commuters and students during the peak times and lead Budapest to a more efficient bus usage, thus less CO2 emission. The service improves the transport in low-traffic areas in a cost-effective way.

Implementation of door-to-door selective waste collection system in Budapest

 The main goal was to establish an integrated waste management system that allows the installation of household selective waste collection system in the whole area of Budapest. The need for this development was due to EU standards and national acts aiming to reduce waste dump. The selective waste collection service is provided free of charge to the citizens.

Enlargement of environment-friendly technologies of waste management system in Budapest

Implementation of a complex waste treatment and recycling system. By increasing the proportion of waste treatment and recycling, it is possible to recycle waste as secondary raw material or as energy. The investment provided a more efficient waste treatment (sorting plant, waste shredder, metal separator, mechanical pre-treatment system); and a more environmentally-conscious process management. Construction of a Selection Centre Awareness-raising and Re-use Centres – to raise the environmental public awareness in an interactive way.

Purchase of waste collection vehicles – development of the tool park of waste management system of Budapest and IT development

The main goal of the project was not the development of the selective waste collection system, but the modernization of tool park of mixed waste collection by replacing machines with high running expenses and purchase of lacking types of machines and the development of the IT system. The aim is to improve the quality of public service, to reduce harmful emissions and increase the cost-efficiency of public service. During the project 64 machines will be purchased in order to develop the waste management public service.

Energy- rationalisation of street lighting (KEOP 5.5.0/A/12-2013-0067)

The main objective of the project was to modernize street lighting in Bartók Béla street and Gázgyári lakótelep in Budapest.

in your opinion, are there different types of smart cities taking into account different political ideologies?

We believe that every city management works out their development policy and development plans for the benefit of their citizens, bearing in mind the city’s special needs. The fact that each smart city project has a unique structure does not neccessarily reflect to political differences, it rather can explained by the various development needs.