Smarten Tartu

University of Tartu participates in major project to smarten Tartu

The Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu Department of Geography participates in the European Union major project SmartEnCity to develop the Tartu city centre area with a Soviet-era planning into a smart city.

The project is a “lighthouse project” in the European Union research and innovation framework Horizon 2020 which has inspired other similar initiatives.


Project area

The project poses a great challenge—rebuilding an existing city district with a Khrushchev-era planning into a smart and energy efficient area. The plan is to renovate 900 Khrushchev-era apartments in 23 buildings for 8.2 million euros, and develop energy systems and an electric car network.

The task of the UT Department of Geography’s workgroup is to develop the smart city business models, which are required to put the new technologies into use, increase the efficiency of sensor technologies and implement the integrated planning model.

So far, the smart city solutions in the world have been used mainly for new buildings and city districts, one complete solution is, for example, the city of Songdo in South-Korea. Professor at UT Department of Geography, one of the developers of the smart city concept in Estonia Rein Ahas said that rebuilding an old city is much more complicated technologically and organisationally, because there are conflicts of principles and interests regarding materials, heritage protection, accepting new technologies, property ownership, social issues, logistics and various other topics.

The renovation of old buildings is done by a consortium led by the technology innovation centre Technalia, based in Basque Country in Spain, which was selected as one of the three out of 52 consortium applications to receive funding.

The SmartEnCity project partner cities are Tartu, Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) and Sønderborg (Denmark), Estonian partners also include the Tartu City Government, AS Eesti Telekom, Tartu Regional Energy Agency, Institute of Baltic Studies, Smart City Lab Cluster, AS Fortum, Cityntel OÜ and Elektritakso.

Additional information: Rein Ahas, professor at UT Department of Geography, one of the developers of the smart city concept in Estonia, tel. 5035914, e-post: /

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