Ron Huldai was elected Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo in 1998. To achieve his foremost goal of maintaining the city as a bastion of tolerance, acceptance and democracy, he has actively promoted policies to enhance quality of life for its diverse population. These include: ensuring affirmative action for the municipality’s minority employees; establishing a municipal center for the LGBTQ community; building and funding special education facilities to serve children from all over the country; upgrading services to Holocaust survivors; providing extensive welfare programs; and more.
Under his leadership, Tel Aviv-Yafo has become a major center of culture, high tech and business development, education, social welfare and environmental responsibility. As “the Startup City of the Startup Nation,” the city is the global leader in technological startups per capita, with the world’s highest density of accelerators, several top-ranking research universities and R&D centers for global enterprises.
Mayor Huldai has emphasized returning the public sphere to the residents, with the creation of over 120 kilometers of bike trails, 14 kilometers of beachfront boardwalk and several new parks.
He instituted an ongoing program to renovate the city’s numerous historical assets, which were internationally recognized in 2003 when UNESCO proclaimed Tel Aviv-Yafo a World Heritage Site. In 2014, UNESCO named Tel Aviv a Creative City for its excellence in digital media activity.
As a global city, Tel Aviv-Yafo is part of many international networks including C40; OECD’s Inclusive Growth; the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact; and U20.
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.