Ron Huldai is currently serving his fourth consecutive five-year term as Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo. His economic vision is to position Tel Aviv-Yafo as a global centre of innovation and creativity. Capitalizing on the city’s status as the centre of the Israeli start-up sector, Huldai’s aims to shape Tel Aviv as “The Start-up City of the Start-up Nation” – a Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs outside the U.S.
The accomplishments of Huldai’s administration have had a demonstrable impact on the city; Mayor Huldai has eliminated the municipal deficit and for the past twelve years managed to maintain a balanced budget while completely transforming the city’s infrastructure, public sphere, and municipal institutions. In light of this economic turn-around, Standard and Poor’s has affirmed the city the coveted AAA Stable rating. He also deepened the city’s positioning as the cultural centre of Israel, and upgraded dozens of cultural and historic assets. The city’s cultural standing received international recognition in 2003 when UNESCO proclaimed the historic zone of Tel Aviv a World Heritage Site and once again in 2014 when it declared it a Creative City for excellence in digital media activity.
One of Mayor Huldai’s most important missions is to maintain Tel Aviv-Yafo as a city of tolerance, pluralism, equality and democracy, actively promoting policies and budgets to support various groups. These activities include: affirmative action for Arab employees; the establishment of a municipal centre for the LGBT community; construction and financing of special education facilities that serve children from dozens of municipalities in Israel; upgraded services to Holocaust survivors; extensive welfare programs; and more.
Mayor Huldai’s answer to many of the modern urban challenges Tel Aviv-Yafo faces is in the implementation of technology as a tool to better connect residents and communities.
Mayor Huldai’s goal is to pursue cutting-edge technologies to enable learning, creativity and sharing for social and economic prosperity. Smart technologies should become an integral part of the city’s civic engagement framework. One such example is the “DigiTel” smart card which earned Tel Aviv-Yafo first prize in the Barcelona Smart Cities Expo. The municipality also envisions smart engagement in future decision making processes and wisdom of the crowd as a means for effective municipal management.
Tel Aviv grapples with a variety of challenges, and has formulated innovative solutions to many of them. Challenges include population growth, absorbing migrant populations, building sustainable infrastructure, encouraging active civic participation and ensuring that all sectors of society benefit from the city’s thriving high-tech industry. Tel Aviv, the Nonstop City, considers engagement a key value in implementing Smart City principles. It actively involves residents in the urban experience and urban development, while emphasising engagement in decision making processes.
The city persistently acts to create a climate that facilitates collaboration between residents, business establishments, third sector organisations and the Municipality, while making use of cutting-edge technologies that enable learning, creativity and sharing to achieve social and economic prosperity. Technological and social tools enable better use of information and communication technologies to streamline the management of existing resources, save energy costs, provide improved service, enhance the quality of life, and fulfil the “sustainable city” concept.