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The city of Pully in the canton of Vaud has just over 18,000 inhabitants, is located on the northern shore of Lake Geneva and is part of the agglomeration of the city of Lausanne, whose centre is only about 3 km away. Pully represents other medium-sized towns that are located in the metropolitan area of a large city and face similar challenges such as high transit volumes or relatively few local companies. An official Smart City initiative was not launched for resource reasons, but a gradual and continuous development can be observed. Pully has been successfully carrying out various pilot projects since 2013 and, thanks to learning effects, has been able to increase the scope and complexity of the projects over the years, so that the city is well able to keep pace with the rest of Switzerland.

Cooperative partnerships: Pully relies on cooperative partnerships with IT companies, research institutions, NGOs, other municipalities or cantons when implementing the projects. The composition of the project consortium is handled flexibly and changes according to the challenge. Pully finds the cooperation partners in different ways: Through existing cooperation or partnerships from other areas, new contacts made e.g. at the Smart Suisse trade fair, on the initiative of private companies or through specific enquiries to other cities. The fact that at least one specialist, one decision-maker from the administration and one politician were involved in the project team proved to be advantageous, so that the projects had the necessary decision-making authority and support. The city does not have the resources to launch a major multi-year initiative and is therefore focusing on a gentle development towards a Smart City. Projects are either started out of an acute new need or when existing infrastructure and IT components exceed their lifetime. Thus, the natural procurement and renewal process can be used to achieve a gradual implementation of smart solutions, no high up-front investment costs are required and the acceptance of all parties involved is high. An example of this is the renewal of the software for the monitoring and maintenance of the urban pipelines (water, electricity, etc.), for which the idea of an open-source software was developed together with the inter-municipal service provider SIGE (responsible for the cities of Montreux and Vevey, among others). Since the cities of Lausanne and Morges also participated in the implementation, the development costs for the individual cities could be kept low. Further advantages were the pooling of knowledge of all participants, the international cooperation of developers and the modular expandability of the software thanks to open source. To ensure that the co-development of the software worked, 8 workshops were held with all partners. At the same time Pully ensured a solid project management with standardised processes, so that the participants could concentrate on the content issues and were not hindered by administrative problems. This cooperation is currently being continued for the development of a wastewater management module.

Measuring traffic flows: In 2015, the chronic congestion of the main traffic axis through the city gave rise to the most complex project to date. Local businesses protested against the plan to make the city centre traffic-free, fearing that they would lose a large part of their clientele. A systematic measurement of traffic flows was started in order to analyse the origin and destination of road users and whether they make intermediate stops. The administration had neither the resources nor the know-how for the measurement, but they found suitable partners for the project in Swisscom and EPFL. Using the connection data left on Swisscom antennas by the mobile phones of the people in Pully, aggregated and anonymised statistics can be produced. This also ensures data protection, as Pully only receives the consolidated transaction data and has no direct access to Swisscom's servers. The biggest finding was that 85% of traffic is pure transit (as of 2017). Since the current statistics are approximate values, the next phase will involve making more precise measurements on site using sensors, and the findings will be incorporated into the redesign of the city centre.

The partnership approach has some disadvantages, such as dependence on an external partner. This was Pully's undoing in the case of broadband expansion. The city has not operated its own telecom lines since 2001 and has left household coverage to its two competitors, Swisscom and UPC. The need for faster Internet was repeatedly voiced by the population, so the city began negotiations with one of the telecom companies on how Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections could be implemented on a large scale. During these negotiations, however, the provider decided that these connections would not be installed at all in future for reasons of profitability. In this case, the administration has to accept the unsatisfactory situation for the time being, as the relocation of the connections is not sustainable for the city alone.

Although Pully does not have a Smart City Initiative, some thought was given to the basic direction in 2018, as more Smart City projects are being implemented. In doing so, the HOW rather than the WHAT was defined. From then on, the selection of projects was based on the four defined basic values Human - Friendly - Efficient - Practical, which were developed together with a philosopher. This underlines the approach that technology is understood as a tool and in the services of society. Projects are often started in a try & error approach on a small scale without a detailed time schedule, budget or final goal. Combined with standardized project management, this allows participants to test creative ideas and develop existing solutions without having to worry about administrative obstacles. A distinct error culture in the pilot projects is also one of the success factors of the city administration.

Further information:


Contact person:

Alexandre Bosshard

Member of the Board, coordinator and project manager