State and private-sector projects have made Hungary the most attractive destination in the Eastern Central Europe region for investors. The country presented world-class development projects at EXPO-REAL, Europe's biggest property exposition, in Munich between 4 and 6 October 2017. The Budapest booth there attracted a great deal of attention – much of it directed at the Liget Budapest Project. This gave the international audience a chance to look at Europe's biggest cultural urban development project, especially at its diverse and innovative SMART techniques, which bring the visitor's experience to a new level.
The professional forums in Munich revolving around intelligent urbanisation, the central theme of EXPO REAL, provide a glimpse into Hungary's concept of smart cities. Also introduced as part of this was the Liget Budapest Project, which was selected as the best major project in the European Union in Cannes in the spring. What was presented from the comprehensive renewal of the Városliget this time was the smart systems that enhance the visitor's experience and support the operation of the institutions. The interest in this unique (in all of Europe) SMART concept drew enormous interest from the professional audience, and the future Liget was presented to a full room several times over the course of the three days of the expo.
"What makes the Smart Liget system planned for the Városliget unique is the fact that it creates an interdependent system of the various digital services of the institutions and the park, whose task is primarily to support a high-level user experience and efficient and sustainable operation," said Benedek Gyorgyevics, the CEO of Városliget Zrt., the company responsible for implementing the Liget Budapest Project.
The core principle of the SMART Liget is the efficient grouping of services and infocommunication technology solutions in a unified, Liget-level system that is easily accessible for everyone. It entails the development of a kind of unified digital ecosystem that makes spending time in the park more convenient for everybody.
Practical examples of this include the introduction of an allowance and loyalty scheme for all visitors to the Városliget which they can conveniently access with simple payment methods, as well as customised routes and event guides available with the help of mobile applications.
The SMART system being developed in the Városliget also supports accessibility for the disabled, with services that help the visually impaired orient themselves and navigate their way through the park, for example. This is a high-priority task for us, as numerous institutions for the blind are located close to the Városliget, meaning that there are greater concentrations of them in the park than there are elsewhere in the city.
The SMART Liget system addresses mobility with a mobile application that aids in orientation through audio-based guidance that combines indoor and outdoor navigation. Furthermore, bicyclists will receive assistance from the familiar service points set up in the Pavilion Garden, as well as from a Liget-wide card system, which they can use to access dressing rooms, showers and bike racks.
Visitors arriving by car will be able to find out the number of available parking spots and the route to reach them. The new underground garage will have numerous charging stations for use with electric vehicles.
Of additional assistance in all this is the fact that it will be easy to connect to the core system developed for SMART Liget using popular services like Google Maps, Waze and Bubi, and in a way that allows users to access the continuously evolving content that is especially tailored to the Városliget.
One could say, therefore, that what the SMART solutions do is make using the park simply more convenient, more predictable and safer.
As Gyorgyevics added, "Through the project, one of Europe's oldest public parks is being renewed, with unique cultural institutions being created along with architecture that is outstanding even by global standards. Through one of the most promising and innovative property development projects on the Continent, the Városliget will simultaneously become an urban public park for relaxation, a green oasis and a home for cultural, entertainment and recreational institutions. We are combining the most extensive park and landscape architectural project in the history of Hungary with an institutional development programme the likes of which have not been seen since the time of the Hungarian Millennium in 1896. Together with the new museums, the unique historic, natural and institutional attributes of the nearly 200-year-old Városliget create a complex family-friendly cultural leisure park where, as in its counterparts in other leading major cities around the world, everyone can find the form of recreation that best suits them."
The Városliget, Europe's first public park, is being renewed in a manner that preserves what is valuable from the past while addressing the present and future needs of the city's inhabitants. By invigorating cultural life and renewing the recreational and leisure functions, the Liget will become a community stage in the life of the city, as well as a renewed park that, with its network of institutions and green space, will exercise an attractive pull across Europe as well.