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Smart Cities

Building Datatropolis

Although digitization is taking the manufacturing industry by storm, it has yet to make a significant impact in public administration. This is all the more surprising, considering the enormous potential of digital technology for towns and cities.

21 Feb. 2017
Smart City
Cities get smart: Digitization is finally making an impact on urban areas. (Source: Fotolia)

When you’re in your car and stuck at the third red light in a row or driving down the same street for the nth time looking for a place to park, you might ask yourself: “Is there not a better way?” Digitization is the word on everyone’s lips in the manufacturing industry, where the Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly giving rise to new possibilities. But in cities, little progress has been made thus far.

In Germany, there are already several prominent examples of cities that have launched smart city initiatives, including Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. However, such projects are associated with large investments, which seems to be the reason they have yet to become widespread. Currently, the majority of concepts are primarily concerned with intelligently controlling urban systems. Digitization generates huge volumes of data that can be combined and analyzed to create intelligent solutions for traffic management, resource efficiency, and urban planning and living.

Automation, but Not Enough Digitization

"At present, cities are not sufficiently prepared for the digital age", says Dirk Heuser from the Urban Software Institute (Hall 7, Stand A14) , an organization that advises municipalities, cities, and metropolitan areas on their digital transformation journey. He adds, "We already see extensive automation, but that rarely produces useful data that benefits citizens or businesses."

In the future, large cities will have put information to good use and potentially share it with others. Mobility and utilities are just two areas that will quickly become difficult to master without the support of data.

A Dynamic Platform for All Data

"This requires two things in principle," says Heuser: "An infrastructure to capture data, and the ability to evaluate and share it." The Urban Software Institute has developed a platform named UrbanPulse that collects all data and provides it to the relevant groups. It uses sensors to collect information from parking machines, traffic lights, and traffic cameras and combines it with data from organizations such as transport agencies or road traffic control. This provides valuable insights in real time, enabling dynamic traffic light circuits or personalized route planning for navigation devices, for example.

ZTE (Hall 12, Stand D53) , a Chinese telecommunications equipment and network solutions company, is also taking an interest in smart cities. It has developed a model for urban and municipal digital transformation called “Smart City 3.0”. This is based on in-depth analysis, which provides cities and municipalities with recommendations on which smart city solutions they need most and which partners are best suited to implement them.

Data Must Be Constantly Available

ZTE uses a PPP model that brings together people, private enterprises, and public stakeholders. Collaboration between these three groups forms a solid economic and social basis for implementing smart city solutions. The technical infrastructure and network expansion of cities play an important part in this. After all, what use is data that is unavailable?

In addition to traffic management and goods logistics in large cities, power and water provision is also a growing global challenge. Today, around 54 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas. And the United Nations predicts that this will rise to 66 percent by 2050. Against this background, energy efficiency is also an important area for innovations.

Huge Potential

These innovations include smart meters that can measure and control values such as consumption. Capgemini (Hall 7, Stand A44) is collaborating with companies like Siemens, Microsoft, and SAP to develop solutions for efficient electricity use. IoT management platforms and cloud technology will help them achieve these goals.

There is gigantic potential for growth in this area. Commercial and residential buildings consume between 20 and 40 percent of the world’s energy. Experts therefore predict that the market for smart building technology will rise to around 36 billion US dollars by 2020. "The Internet of Things is a massive accelerator for digital transformation," says Olivier Sevillia , CEO of Capgemini Application Services. "Building a consistent strategy and providing an innovative platform for IoT services is an asset that companies can leverage for the benefit of their clients."

In just a few years, the world will be connected. Experts estimate that the Internet of Things will consist of some 50 billion connected devices by 2020. This results in new business opportunities; but it also poses risks. At CeBIT 2017 in Hall 12 , exciting scenarios will demonstrate both individual components of IoT ecosystems and complete, end-to-end solutions.

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