Standards management at the City of Vienna

Using standards professionally, taking part in standardization in a targeted way

The City of Vienna manages standards professionally. Strategic responsibility for this field lies with SR Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Jarolim and Techn. OAR Christian Medits who work in the Directorate General of Urban Planning, Development and Construction in the Executive Group for Construction and Technology of Vienna's Chief Executive Office. The operative procurement of standards and ongoing maintenance of 'effects 2.0' is managed by Martina Lindtner of Municipal Department 25, Urban Renewal & Inspecting Authority for Residential Buildings. A real success story - not least owing to successful co-operation with Austrian Standards.

Vienna covers an area of 415 km2. Its population of more than 1.85 million account for around one-quarter of Austria's economic output. They live and work in more than two million buildings. Their mobility is ensured by a street network of 2,800 kilometres, and 2.5 million passengers use public transport every day. And according to the current Mercer survey, Vienna is the city with the highest quality of living world-wide.

Vienna's City Hall from Burgtheater
Credit: Schaub-Walzer / PID

The people working at the Chief Executive Office of the City of Vienna know how such a standard can be achieved. "Vienna is a growing metropolis – and therefore, of course, municipal tasks also increase," explains Dipl.-Ing. Brigitte Jilka, MBA, Director General of Urban Planning, Development and Construction. "To tackle those challenges, the city administration has to know and take account of numerous standards. Professional standards management is a must in order to make sure that the experts working in various municipal departments reliably have access to the current versions of the applicable specifications. Together with Austrian Standards, we developed a solution for the City of Vienna that optimally meets our complex requirements."

A wide range of tasks

The spectrum of tasks is extensive. They range from issuing cycling licences for children to granting the construction permit for Austria's tallest building, the 250m high DC Tower 1 in the Donaustadt district. "Within the city administration, roughly 10,000 employees need to have access to current standards," states SR Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Jarolim, who heads the competence centre for construction research, building regulations, engineering services and standards in the Executive Group for Construction and Technology at the Chief Executive Office. "Within the framework of its tasks, the City of Vienna makes available thousands of products and services. Standards always play an important part –- be it  in assessment and approval procedures, medical procurement or fire-fighting equipment."

To address its tasks, the Executive Group for Construction and Technology is structured into five competence centres. Nineteen municipal departments administer the extensive technical affairs. "At present there are around 25,000 standards in effect and half of them are relevant for the city administration," says Ing. Christian Medits. The standards management system of the City of Vienna offers him numerous advantages. "Standards are an important basis both for official procedures as well as public procurement processes –- regardless of whether we impose conditions, obtain expert opinions, issue decisions, call for tenders or award contracts. Standards allow you to describe deliverables in a precise and technically correct manner. Moreover, you can be sure that you are always up to date. Our 'effects 2.0' solution of Austrian Standards allows all the colleagues to access all the effective ÖNORM standards they need for their work. Easy, fast and unbureaucratic."

Practical and upgradeable

If a standard should not (yet) be available as a national document, standards from other countries can also be integrated into the system without any problems. Martina Lindtner of Municipal Department 25 is responsible for purchasing standards from Austrian Standards. Municipal Department 25 also is the contact for all user questions related to 'effects 2.0'. "Since we have started to professionally organize and manage the standards required in 'effects 2.0', user satisfaction increased significantly. After I explain the application to new users, I usually only get positive feedback and hear that they are surprised about how easy it all is," says Ms. Lindtner.

Managing knowledge

The City of Vienna also uses its standards management system for co-ordinating its participation in the development of standards at Austrian Standards. "Within the framework of ongoing activities, we examine which subjects and fields are topical or relevant for the City of Vienna and where we can actively contribute to standardization," declares Christian Medits who is active in a working group himself. Bernhard Jarolim reports: "Today, all the employees of the City of Vienna who take part in standardization are already registered in a database that is accessible on the intranet. Hence, the around 220 experts who are currently active in standardization committees are visible. This information is accessible to the thousands of employees of the City of Vienna, i.e. the standards users, 'on site' on the intranet. As a result, virtually the entire administration knows which committee is responsible for specific standards and who takes part in it for the City. Thus, everybody can contact those persons for learning further details, voicing concerns and suggesting improvements –- an additional form of internal networking that raises efficiency and output quality."

Sharing know-how

One of the motives for getting involved in standardization is the wish to share the expertise of the City of Vienna with the general public. "Our experts can offer excellent know-how in their fields of specialization. Given the fact that Vienna is the national capital, a province and a municipality at the same time, we have ample experience that can benefit others. Hence, when our experts take part in standardization committees, they do not only represent the City of Vienna and its interests, but contribute their - frequently unique - expertise to the standardization process and thereby help improve the output and quality of the committees in question," SR Bernhard Jarolim summarizes the commitment of the City of Vienna.

Strategic considerations

Those activities of the City of Vienna are, of course, also based on strategic considerations. Director SR Mag. Richard Gauss (Administrative Group for Social Affairs, Public Health and Sports): "Standards define the framework of our day-to-day work – from hygiene and ventilation in operating theatres to the construction of nursing homes and the operation of sheltered housing facilities. In the development and application of standards, it is important for us to find the right balance between high quality, safety and innovation on the one hand and economy, efficiency and expediency on the other hand. The strategic standards management system that we introduced allows us to shape actively the framework conditions and to co-ordinate and defend effectively our interests."

Author: Herbert Hirner

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