A city on the move, Zurich aims for climate-neutral mobility that won’t slow it down

Zurich Insurance Company Ltd is helping the City of Zurich find innovators who can develop ways to reduce emissions without putting the brakes on transportation.

At HackZurich on Sept. 27-29 we will present a challenge to hackers that must be solved in 48 hours. The challenge will center on how to enable climate-neutral mobility for citizens in a “smart city”.


The Zurich Smart City initiative supports innovative, responsible and sustainable development in the areas of transportation, industry, agriculture and others, largely through new technology. For this year’s largest hackathon in Europe, the City of Zurich has joined forces with Zurich Insurance Company, with additional support from ClimatePartner, an organization that develops carbon offset programs, to take on the task of achieving software solutions as to how technology can help citizens to reduce or offset their carbon footprint. Winners will have the opportunity for further funding to develop their offerings into solutions available to the City of Zurich and Zurich Insurance Company customers.

"The Smart City initiative is an important one for the citizens of Zurich", says Andreas Németh, Director of City of Zurich Informatics Office. "HackZurich will give us the opportunity, through solutions using modern technologies and ingenuity, to develop the City of Zurich into a more sustainable and livable city."

Zurich Insurance Company believes its commitment to sustainability leaves it “uniquely positioned to support our stakeholders and society more broadly to deepen the understanding of climate risks and improve decision-making around it,” said Linda Freiner, Group Head of Sustainability, “Because we believe climate change is real and caused by human actions, it is our goal to change those human behaviors and encourage climate-friendly practices.”

Residents and visitors of the City of Zurich can make transportation choices that have a sizeable impact on CO2 emissions, as illustrated by ClimatePartner’s research. “Each kind of transport has an impact on the environment. Our work at ClimatePartner is to make this impact transparent and to show the amount of carbon emissions. With this information, consumers understand how many emissions they can reduce by choosing a different kind of transportation. The remaining, unavoidable emissions should then be offset by a high quality carbon offset project.” Moritz Lehmkuhl, ClimatePartner

ClimatePartner’s data shows the difference in CO2 emissions among various types of transportation in Zurich, expressed in percentages. Assuming that a car using diesel fuel is at 100%, a bus using the same fuel has a far lower impact at 31%. Even better, ships on Lake Zurich have a 28% rating and E-bikes are further down at 6%. Trams weigh in at 4% and, of course, there are no emissions generated by walkers, swimmers and cyclists in the city.

CO2 emissions from passenger transport graph

“Sustainability is a strategic priority for the City of Zurich,” said Ms. Freiner “We are committed to creating value for all our stakeholders on some of their biggest challenges, including climate change, a changing world of work and the digital society,” all of which are issues faced by a “smart city”, she noted.

“Zurich Insurance Company’s sponsorship of HackZurich is aligned to our ambition to inspire confidence in a digital society,” says Giovanni Giuliani, Group Head of Strategy, Innovation and Business Development “We want to enable better decision-making on mobility and help offset carbon emissions through the use of innovative technologies that add value to our service ecosystems. That’s why we collect all these brilliant ideas and collaborate together with the City of Zurich, a community in which we live and work, to make a real impact to society as a whole.”

Hacka-what?

A hackathon is a sprint-like design event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects.

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